Crispy Apple-Pear Crisp

Crispy Apple Pear Crisp

Crispy Apple Pear Crisp

Happy National Dessert Day, everyone! Although I often feel that every day should celebrate dessert. And when the leaves are starting to change, as they are near my home right now, I think we should celebrate fall as well. In addition, it’s apple season and I procured local apples for my creations. So, where am I going with all of this? Apple crisps – my inspiration for today’s recipe.

It seems that everyone has a recipe for apple crisps, including me (see my Ginger Apple Crisp). But I wanted to take the recipe in a different, crispy-er direction. To achieve this, I scoured the internet and all of my many cookbooks. Ultimately I ended up at America’s Test Kitchen, the resource who does hours after hours after hours of testing for you. They found that if the topping is added after an initial apple cooking, then the top stays crispy. I took this hint, and my 20 pounds of apples (yes, you read that right), and crisped away.

When I decided to make a very large tray of the treat to make a dent in my crate of apples, my hubby’s reply was, “Apple crisp for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!” That required peeling a lot of apples. (Maybe I should have had him peel them). If you don’t want to do quite that much work, or if the recipe seems too large for you, then you can halve the ingredient amounts and make your crisp in an 8 x 8” pan.

Crispy Apple-Pear Crisp adapted from “Naturally Sweet” by America’s Test Kitchen

Topping
1 cup slivered almonds, chopped
1 cup vegan sugar
1/2 cup + 2 TBS vegan margarine, melted
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
Filling
5.5 pounds mixture of apples and pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2” wedges
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 TBS arrowroot powder
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
Vegan Ice cream, optional

For the topping: Place oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 400F. Toast almonds until lightly browned, then place on a wire rack to cool slightly. Leave oven on for filling. Working in batches, grind topping sugar in a spice grinder until fine and powdery. Whisk ground sugar, melted margarine, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold in flour and oats until mixture resembles a cohesive dough. Add in almonds and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the filling: Toss fruit, filling sugar, lemon juice, arrowroot, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Transfer to a 9 x 13” baking pan, cover with foil, and set on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until apples are juicy and tender, about 1.25 hours, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

lots of peeled apples and pears

lots and lots of peeled apples and pears

To assemble: Remove filling from oven and stir to redistribute juices. Take topping from the fridge and crumble it over the filling, leaving a few 1/2” topping pieces. Bake uncovered until filling is bubbling and topping is a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes before serving. Top with vegan ice cream, if desired.

Until next time, happy baking!

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp

The perfect bite of peach crisp

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp

Walnuts and cinnamon and peaches … oh, my! Looking at half a flat of local peaches, I was devising ways to use up a good portion of them when a crisp came to mind. The dessert turned out so velvety, luscious, and decadent that I wanted to eat the entire dish in one sitting, for dinner. A few bites were saved for breakfast, but it’s best to reheat it to bring out the full peachy flavor.

The recipe I liked had few ingredients and good preparation techniques but made a large baking dish of crisp, so I scaled it down. Then I added walnuts because I love a crunchy topping. To veganize it I used vegan buttery sticks. Fortunately, nothing needed to be changed for altitude. My final fix was to prefer mixing with my hands instead of using a stick blender. It made for easier kitchen cleanup, and it allowed me to create larger clumps of topping goodness.

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp adapted from Cinnamon-Oat Peach Crisp

3 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4” slices
1/2 cup organic granulated sugar
2 TBS + 3/4 cup all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan margarine, softened

Toss peaches, granulated sugar, and 2 TBS flour in a bowl to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup flour in a large bowl to combine. Add margarine and mix it in with your fingers, removing any lumps.

Place a rack in the center of the oven; preheat oven to 350F. Scrape peaches and any juices into a 2-qt baking dish. Evenly scatter oat topping over peaches and bake until peaches are soft, fruit juices are bubbling, and topping is a deep golden brown, 40–45 minutes. Transfer baking dish to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

The Low-Down on Rhubarb and Crumbles

rhubarb

Image courtesy of Whitney at flickr.com

In my blog on Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble I mentioned that I had to scour the internet to do research for the post. I was only briefly familiar with rhubarb and needed to learn more in order to make a tasty treat. SeriousEats.com told me that “rhubarb—technically a vegetable, but usually treated like a fruit (is) … puckeringly tart when raw (and) is especially tasty when its sourness is tempered through cooking with sugar and/or pairing with sweet fruits … Note: Only the stalks of rhubarb plants are edible, while the leaves are poisonous.”

Once I got the info on the rhubarb plant, I went off in search of ways to bake it. I saw a multitude of recipes labeled “crumble” or “crisp” that looked like the same type of recipe. They are almost identical, but a little detective work uncovered their differences. “Crumbles and crisps are very similar … They both contain fresh fruit with a streusel-like topping that gets baked until the fruit is cooked … The original difference between the two lay in the streusel topping: crisps would contain oats and crumbles would not. In an actual crisp … the oats in the topping crisp up as it bakes, hence the name.”

At that point I had enough data to start my baking experiments. Strawberry was often paired with rhubarb so that was a good place to start. Also, it’s strawberry season and fresh berries were plentiful. I ended up with a crumble and not a crisp because it seemed easier, and who doesn’t like dessert to be simple. Next I threw in a little “healthy” and my Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble was born.