Thursday, 1 December 2011

The 'Other' Thanksgiving Dessert: Apple Crisp

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You guys already know I'm obsessed with pumpkin, and especially with my family's pumpkin pie.  So of course when I was home in San Francisco for Thanksgiving I ate a ton of the stuff.  But what you don't know is that there's another dessert my family serves every year, and it's not pecan pie (we do serve that sometimes, in which case it's a third option) – it simply has to be something fruity.

'scuse the iphone pics – didn't bring the big camera home.*

My mom and her sisters, the current matriarchs of our big, female-dominated clan, aren't super big on sweets.  They're salt folk, and they often skip dessert altogether on Thanksgiving, preferring to eat a slice of pumpkin pie at 6am the next day, for 'breakfast' (my mom never eats breakfast, besides these rare morning-after occurrences).  So if there's going to be another dessert on their table, they require it to be something a bit less sweet, less rich, more fruit-based, and that usually means an apple crisp.

A crisp is generally less heavy than a pie, since it doesn't have all the pastry weighing it down, and it's a great addition to a dessert table because it's such an easy, quick process – you can assign the biggest job, the cutting up of apples, to some nearby underling, and then it's just a matter of putting things together and layering them in a big baking dish.

The other big draw for my family is that crisps can actually be made relatively healthy.  Especially if you have good, naturally sweet fruit, you can cut the sugar dramatically, which just leaves a bit of (well-distributed) butter as the main baddie in the recipe.  Other than that, the dish is mostly made up of fruit, spices, oats, and flour.  And, in this most recent recipe, nuts.  I'll never do without them again.  In fact, I liked this recipe so much I made another mini-crisp for the BF when I got back to London (I landed on his birthday, so I put a silly votive candle on it and he made a wish).

I found this recipe over at The Girl Who Ate Everything, and after reading the rave comments I had to try it.  However, one commenter did say that it was the sweetest crisp she'd ever made, so I cut the sugar pretty drastically and doubled the cinnamon.  Nonetheless, the addition of the pecans and the use of melted butter to bind the topping definitely made this recipe my new favorite.  Try it my way (below) if you like your crisps sweet but not overpowering, and head on over to the original source (linked below) if you have a major sweet tooth!

*As may be obvious, the photos of the mini-crisp were taken back in London, with the good SLR.  Still, I thought the iphone performed pretty well under pressure!

Apple Pecan Crisp
     adapted from TGWAE

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

In a large bowl, stir together:
     6 apples, cored and sliced (you can peel them if you like, but I like a little extra texture)
     1 Tbsp flour
     2 tsp cinnamon
     1/4 tsp nutmeg

Spread apple mix in a 9x13" baking dish, and in the same bowl, stir together:
     2c oats
     2c flour
     2c chopped pecans
     1.5c brown sugar, loose
     1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1c (225g) butter, melted (I used salted, but you can also use unsalted, in which case I'd recommend adding a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients)

Crumble the topping mixture over the apples and bake 30-40 minutes, until crumble is golden and apples are as tender as you like them – I like mine a bit firm, so I pulled it out at about 35 minutes.

Serve warm or room-temperature, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.



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