September 23, 2011

Apple Crisp

In our house, September means family birthdays, back to school, Michigan football, and apple picking.

I’m not sure if apple picking is a typically New England activity. But it’s not something I did growing up in New Jersey.

We went apple picking for the first time a few years ago and we were hooked. It quickly became an annual tradition that we all look forward to.

We usually choose a Saturday in mid-September when the MacIntosh, Cortland and Honeycrisp apples are ripe for the picking. My husband makes sure we pick some Bosc pears too.

We start off with a hayride into the orchard, then eat and pick our way through the fruit trees. This year we got great weather – bright blue skies and just enough nip in the air to remind us that fall is on its way.

A trip to Honey Pot Hill Orchards is never complete without a stop at their farm store to pick up some cider donuts and a peanut-covered caramel apple. 
Check out all the nuts on this caramel apple!

As usual we picked many more apples than we could possibly eat. Good thing I’ve got lots of apple recipes to try. Some went into this apple crisp. I love this recipe because it’s heavy on the nuts and doesn’t have oats in the topping. I’ve tried crisp recipes with oats and they always end up soggy or chewy.

This recipe goes easy on the spices so you can really taste the apples. The topping is just sugar, cinnamon, flour and nuts. It’s sweet and crunchy and delicious enough to eat on its own. And it’s a great topping for the sweet, gently spiced apples underneath.

Start with some (freshly picked!) apples.

Peel the apples.

Then core them (I don’t have an apple corer so I just cut around the core).

Cut the apples into small chunks.

In a bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Toss the apples with the sugar/cornstarch mixture as well as the lemon juice and cinnamon. You can add other flavorings like nutmeg, crystallized ginger or orange rind if you’d like.

Put the apples in a baking dish and bake until the apples are hot and have released their juices.

In the meantime make your topping. Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and nuts (I used walnuts) in a food processor.

Pulse a few times.

Add the melted butter and pulse again until the mixture looks like wet sand.

Put the topping in a bowl and work it with your fingers. I added some more walnuts at this point because I wanted to some bigger pieces of walnuts mixed in with the finely chopped nuts.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the hot apples.

Put the baking dish back into the oven until the topping is golden brown and the apples are bubbling underneath. Let the crisp cool for 10 minutes before diving in.

Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream.

Apple Crisp

Apple filling:
3 pounds (6 to 9) apples
1 tsp cornstarch
2 to 4 Tbsp sugar (use less if your apples are sweeter, more if your apples are tart)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp cinnamon

¾ cup chopped, toasted slivered almonds, walnuts or pecans
¼ cup chopped, toasted slivered almonds, walnuts or pecans (optional)
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1.      Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.      Peel, core and cut the apples into ½-inch chunks.

3.      In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch.

4.      In a large bowl, toss together the apples, sugar/cornstarch mixture, lemon juice and cinnamon.

5.      Transfer fruit filling to an 8-inch square baking dish. Cover with foil and set on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (for easy cleanup).

6.      Bake the fruit until it is hot and has released its juices, 20 to 25 minutes. (This step took me closer to 40 minutes.)

1.      Pulse the nuts, flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a food processor until the nuts are finely chopped, about 9 pulses.

2.      Drizzle the melted butter over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles crumbly, wet sand, about 5 pulses.

3.      Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. (Add the remaining ¼ cup chopped nuts, if using.) Pinch mixture between your fingers into small pea-sized pieces (with some smaller loose bits).

1.      When the apples are hot, remove the fruit from the oven, uncover, and stir gently.

2.      Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.

3.      Bake the crisp until the topping is deep golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 15 minutes, rotating the dish halfway through baking.

4.      Let the crisp cool for 10 minutes before serving.

5.      Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6 to 8

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