As I am rebuilding my cookbook collection I buy new books that have been recently published to replace old ones I can no longer find. With fall in the air I turn back to baking and have a few favourites I tend to go back to over and over.
Last night I was up in the middle of the night, awakened by stormy winds that overturned chairs on the rooftop patio, blew away cushions and pushed over still standing umbrellas (we are optimistic, haven’t put away summer “stuff” just yet). Since I was up I thought I’d look through a dessert book I recently purchased and begun reading the previous evening. This is a little risky, because I am known to get up in the middle of the night, read a recipe, get excited and go into the kitchen to make or bake it. Thankfully it didn’t happen that way this time. After skimming the entire book I marked the page and reluctantly went back to sleep and waited until morning to make this dessert (a friend once told me that “a balanced life is a life without passion“).
The book, titled Sinfully Easy and Delicious Desserts, was written by Alice Medrich. Medrich is apparently credited with introducing the chocolate truffle to the US when she begun making and selling them at the Cocolat, the Berkley dessert shop she used to own. She also offers video classes through her site, showing you how to work with chocolate, make fabulous birthday cakes and more. This is a wonderful book and the recipes seem easy and are very inspiring. I intend to cook a few of her creations and hope to post some of them here. I have of course made apple crisps hundreds of times and consider the dish one of my signature desserts so I was quite surprised that I have not posted an apple crisp on the blog yet. I have posted baked apple recipes a couple of time here and here. The recipe I am offering here is adapted from the book by Medrich.
I have written about apple varieties in another post. I said it there and I can say it again: you may be a chocolate addict but for me it’s apples for dessert. The sweet and tangy flavours balanced by a buttery, flaky crust or crispy topping is just what my palate requests at the end of dinner, especially served warm with a scoop of creamy ice cream. Nothing surpasses the humble apple pie or the more sophisticated French apple galette, the famous Tarte Tatin, or the chic and stylish apple crisp. So there.
Recently I have been cooking for two so I try not to cook in the usual large quantities I was accustomed to before. The recipe here is enough for about 6 servings but you could make it for just a couple of people. My suggestion is to make a full recipe of the topping and keep the unused portion in the freezer, ready to be used on another occasion. You can easily cut the apple filling proportions in half for a couple of servings. Medrich suggests using crisp apples, not too sweet, not too acidic, such as Granny Smith, Pippin or Jonathan. These type of apples tend to hold their shape through cooking rather than melt into a jam-like consistency, but really, any apple you have would work just fine.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
6 medium apples
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon cold butter, cut into bits.
Combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. The mixture should be crumbly.
Place cranberries in a bowl, pour enough hot water to cover and let soak while you prepare the apples.
Cut apples into chunks without peeling (can peel if you wish) and place in a bowl.
Add orange juice and mix.
Add sugar-cinnamon mixture, reserving 1 tablespoon for topping.
Drain cranberries in a sieve and add to apples together with apricots.
Butter a baking dish and add the apple mixture, spreading it evenly.
Scatter 1 tablespoon cold butter bits over the apples.
Spoon the crumb topping over the apples and scatter remaining 1 tablespoon butter bits over the topping.
Sprinkle reserved 1 tablespoon sugar-cinnamon mixture over the topping.
Bake in a preheated 350℉ oven for about an hour or until the topping looks golden and crisp.
Spoon into individual dishes and serve with fresh cream, whipped cream or ice cream.