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Maple apple walnut crisp, celebrating fall.

November 4, 2013

Autumn in NY: fall leaves

The word “crisp” always reminds me of fall. In all of it’s meanings, it applies to autumn: the weather is (usually) crisp, apples are crisp when you bite into them, the leaves are crisp- they crunch under your feet, and of course, you can bake things like crisps without your face melting off.

It’s nice to be able to put the oven on & have the windows open… instead of cranking the A/C higher to compensate.

Beautiful, shiny fall apples... just waiting to be baked!

Well, here in New York, anyway.

And it’s about time. I shouldn’t really complain: we didn’t have ONE day over 90° in August this year, and September was relatively pleasant. A bit humid & muggy at times, but all in all it was mostly very cool, sunny days & nice breezes (and some positively cold evenings). October started off HORRIBLE with 86° weather & humidity like crazy, but it evened out into nicer “fall like” temperatures. And lately it’s been really nice… not too cold, sunny, and… wait for it… crisp. I have to say it always dismays me when the weather skips past fall & goes right from sweltering to freezing. Ya gotta give me a little crisp fall weather, Mama Nature!

I say that knowing tonight it’s supposed to dip down to 37 degrees.

A delicious maple apple walnut crisp recipe!

Anyway, can we talk about “crisps”? No, not the U.K. version of a crisp. The baked, dessert-y, fruity, sugary cobbler-like version.

A crisp is different from a cobbler, a pandowdy, a galette/crostata, a brown betty or a pie. But to me they’re all so similar that they’re in the same family: fruit combined with sugar & added to a dough or batter or flour mixture of some sort. According to Wikipedia:

crisp is a type of dessert, usually consisting of a type of fruit, baked with a crispy topping, hence the name. The topping usually consists of butter, flour, oats, brown sugar and usually spices such as cinnamon and/or nutmeg. The most familiar type of crisp is apple crisp, where apples are baked with this topping. However, many other kinds of fruit can be used, such as cherriespearspeachesblueberries, etc.

It’s one of those really easy desserts to throw together. It doesn’t require a lot of prep, there’s no dough to roll out or chill, etc. For cobblers & crisps, you can use any kind of fruit or any combination of fruit, and you can toss in anything you like: nuts, berries, dried fruits, etc. It’s basically one of the most fool-proof desserts you can make. And unlike a crostata or galette- there’s not even any tricky pie dough to make!

Maple apple walnut crisp recipe.

However, similar to my infamous peach & bourbon crostata, I didn’t really use a recipe for this. I kind of winged it. But I’ll do my best to write one up… because I knew I’d be asked for one eventually!

I threw this together because as much as I love looking at big bowls of apples… they have to be used eventually. Indy loves them but really how many apples can one dog eat?! Not that many! (do not ask him that question, the answer will be vastly different than mine) I didn’t really know what to do, seeing as how I already made a giant apple cake this year & I didn’t want to make applesauce. Then I got to thinking. Last year, I went maple crazy- maple pumpkin butter, maple pumpkin pasties, etc. The combination is fantastic. But this year I thought I’d lend the maple-y goodness to some apples. The result? Equally fantastic. So if you went apple picking this year, & you’ve got loads of apples to use up, then this is something you’ll want to try.

Plus it’s a great alternative to the pumpkin-everything that goes on in the fall. It’s still got a rich flavor, but it isn’t pumpkin. ‘Cause not everyone loves pumpkin.

MAPLE APPLE CRISP

Ingredients:

  • around 3 1/2 lbs. apples (baking apples preferred, but not required)
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup, not imitation
  • 1/2 cup quick or regular oats (optional- I didn’t use them)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional- I didn’t use them)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, black walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans (optional- I used black walnuts)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Core & slice apples. The thickness of the slice depends on you- I prefer them to be not very thin, but not terribly thick. If you’re using softer apples then cut them a little thicker or else they’ll turn mushy. If using firm baking apples, you can also coarsely chop them and/or peel them first, if you prefer.
  3. Combine the apples with the maple syrup, walnuts & raisins (if using) in a large bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the apple mixture to a glass baking dish or pie plate. Set aside.
  5. In another medium bowl, mix the butter into the flour. Then add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg & brown sugar.
  6. Sprinkle the flour mixture on top of the apple mixture. Bake for anywhere between 35-65 minutes; depending on apple type- or until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven & let cool until it’s room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream (not required, but a definite recommendation).

An easy maple apple walnut crisp, perfect for fall.

A mixture of different apples works well in this, but so does any kind of apple, really. If you’re using a soft apple, I’d be sure to throw in some firmer ones just for better texture, but technically you can use any apples you like. You only want to avoid Mcintosh & Red Delicious apples, which are far too sweet & way too soft. Save those for applesauce or snacking.

Like tomato jam or shoo-fly pie, crisps aren’t all that attractive to look at. They kind of look like a mess, actually… but they’re DELICIOUS.

Do not underestimate the apple crisp!

An apple crisp made with real maple syrup. A great alternative to pumpkin-everything in the fall.

If you’re having trouble picking an apple to use, the Farmer’s Almanac has a list. I usually have no trouble with all-purpose apples, or a mixed bag of different ones. Try not to stress the whole “what kind of apple do I use” thing too much.

Oh- and I know some people will find this too sweet; between the sugar & maple syrup, etc. If you’re one of those people, or if you like a more tart apple flavor, go all Granny Smith. Also- this is not a firm crisp. There’s a lot of juice & maple-y goodness. Just go with it!

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