Our favorite desserts involve apples. Crisp, pie, tart tatine (can't wait to tell you about that one), or even a simple baked apple, sprinkled with brown sugar. They're all delicious.
Crisp is generally our go-to dessert in the fall, when we're practically guaranteed to have a giant bowl of apples somewhere in the house (we stock up at the orchards... my parents even buy a couple bushels at the end of the season at the orchard down the street from their house and give us half- so I really mean we're guaranteed to have apples). And over the years, since I first loved apple crisp, way back in middle school, the year grandma broke our oven and we were stuck cooking only with burners and a microwave while the kitchen renovation got going and finished (it was actually good timing, we needed a new range at the same time as my parents had been considering remodeling the kitchen). So starting then, and all through the rest of my childhood and young adulthood, I made apple crisp in the microwave. It was good. It was super fast. But when I moved out, I inherited great-aunt so-and-so's ancient microwave that could barely soften butter, not to mention it couldn't even fit a dinner plate. I needed a new apple crisp.
And thus began the search. I found a few that weren't really what I'd call a "crisp", they were more of a cobbler- with a cake or biscuit topping. My apple "crisp" has a topping of flour, brown sugar, oats and butter. I finally found a good-looking recipe on the food network website, which also called for tossing/soaking the apples in apple cider (bonus), but every time I baked that one, all the fruit was just soaking in butter, and that's not my ideal food.
But finally, I found the perfect crisp. I picked up the September 2010 issue of the Food Network magazine. I was offered a special subscription rate, but due to poor opinion by other foodies and food bloggers, i passed it up. But I was still curious- so when we were at BJ's one day, where all the magazines are discounted, I grabbed it. And honestly, I thought it was a nice magazine. I'm not sure why it's so unpopular.
Anyway. The magazine had a mix and match fruit "crumble" article- I gather the different between a crumble and a crisp is that the crumble has nuts added. That's cool with me! I followed their topping suggestions with my own fruit filling, and...
perfection. This is what I've been looking for.
taken from Food Network Magazine, Sept 2010
3/8 cup (1/2 cup minus 2T) chopped nuts: I like hazelnuts or walnuts, but FN also recommends pistachios, pecans or almonds
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/8 cup (3oz) AP or WW flour
dash of salt
1/2 t cinnamon, or play with other spices you like
3T softened butter
Whisk everything but the butter together, then work in the butter with your fingers or a fork, until the mixture is crumbly and well-combined.
fruit- apples, peaches, berries, pears, plums... play around!
In an 8x8 dish, place the fruit of your choice (apples, of course). I peeled and chopped about 5-6 apples, enough so that they were slightly mounded.
Top fruit with the topping, spread evenly around. The topping layer won't be all that thick, that's ok.
Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes. Enjoy straight from the baking dish, or be more civilized and put it on a plate, with ice cream.
You'll note that I haven't added anything to the apples- no sugar, no spices. This is how I like my apple crisps and pies, just pure apples. By all means, add 2-4T sugar to your apples, some cinnamon and/or nutmeg, or follow the suggestions on the FN site, linked above. They have some good ideas. I also really enjoyed this crisp made with 2lbs of prune plums and 4 apples- normally I prefer my plums cooked alone, to enjoy them completely, but there simply weren't enough plums for this, and I didn't want to bake a single serving crisp/crumble at the time.
Apple Crisp, the 2nd way
This is a fun little single serving dessert- it's great if you want apple crisp, but there aren't enough people to require an 8x8 or 9x13 dish of dessert, and/or you're really not in the mood to peel and dice all those apples. I found it on taste spotting, and it just looked so cute I had to file the idea away.
Single Apple Crisp
taken from Jamie at My Baking Addiction
2 apples, washed and cored. Note: don't fully core the apple, just cut down far enough to get the seeds, and leave the bottom part intact. Make a well, not a hole. (if you accidentally make a full hole, that's ok- it's just easier if you don't. I have yet to remember not to make a hole. Do as I say, not as I do.)
1/4 cup oats
1T butter, softened
1.5T brown sugar
1/2 t apple pie or pumpkin pie spice, or some cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
Whisk dry ingredients together, then add butter. Mix with a fork or fingers until crumbly.
Stuff filling inside of apples- don't pack too tightly, the filling might expand as it bakes.
Place the stuffed apples on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 min at 350F. Drizzle apples with maple syrup or caramel sauce before serving.