An Apple Dessert for Any Day
This post is from our resident Farm Foodie – Debra Dubief
After getting my Tarte Tatin fix a couple weeks back, but still craving the simplicity of perfectly baked apples, I was completely smitten by one of Dorie Greenspan’s recent blog posts. One of my favorite cookbook authors, it is hard not to love everything Dorie comes up with.
This adoration is mostly because her recipes are always divine, but also (let’s be honest) partially because she lives in Paris for a good chunk of the year. I feel like I vicariously take part in this dreamy life whenever I make one of her dishes; the latest being a sublimely pleasurable and ridiculously effortless apple dessert.
Basically an apple crisp, this brilliant little dessert is simple enough to whip up at a moment’s notice. There’s not much sugar other than what’s in the not-too-sweet cookies I used, so it isn’t nearly as decadent as the gooey caramel deliciousness I plied you with a couple weeks ago. Yet it is definitely satisfying enough to immensely please your autumn sweet tooth.
Apples, a touch of sugar, butter, spices, some crumbled packaged cookies and 40 minutes in the oven was all it took. Since I couldn’t find the cookies that I’m sure are available in just about every corner shop in Paris, I had to play with the recipe just a bit. And now that I know how adaptable it is I’ll be making this again and again, probably never the same way twice, just the way we like it.
In fact, I made this again over the weekend using 4 apples and 6 Seckel pears that were getting pretty ripe. I didn’t even bother peeling the pears and I think I liked it even better this time around.
I especially love the spice mixture in this and will tell you it is worth having whole cardamom pods and nutmeg on hand. When the spices are freshly ground they are infinitely more aromatic. I imagine this would also be delicious with pears and/or quince and crushed Amaretti.
Apple and Spice Cookie Crisp
Adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan
6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks (to make about 7 cups)
2 T brown sugar, or more if you use a very tart apple
1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
7 T unsalted butter, softened
3 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed with a mortar and pestle (or ½ tsp. ground)
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 approximately 225 gram package or about 1/2 pound, crispy spice cookies (*see note below)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter glass or ceramic baking dish that is large enough to hold your chopped apples – roughly a 9” square or round. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Stir occasionally as you make the topping.
Break the cookies into pieces and put them in a medium bowl. I crushed the cookies with my pestle, which seemed to be easier than trying to crumble by hand. The goal here is to end up with more chunks than crumbs, but if you end up with a lot of crumbs (like I did this weekend, as evidenced below) it works just fine too.
Place the butter in a large bowl and blend by hand with remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger until well combined. Add cookie crumbles to the butter and work them together with your fingers until the cookies and butter all stick together.
Give the apples a last stir and then put them into the baking dish, pouring over whatever juices may have accumulated in the bowl. Crumble the cookie mixture evenly over the apples.
Bake the crisp for 35 to 40 minutes – cover it with a foil tent if the topping is getting too brown, too quickly. You’ll know the crumble is baked when the topping is deeply brown and the fruit is bubbling. Transfer the crisp to a rack and let it cool until it is just warm or reaches room temperature. Serve with ice cream or frozen yogurt. Vanilla is the safe choice, but if you can find something more exotic like, say, Calvados sorbet, you should run for that one!
Note: Dorie’s recipe calls for Lotus brand “Biscoff” cookies which I found at Town & Country Markets in Seattle. I have also made this with a 50/50 combo of some off the shelf gingersnaps and crispy cinnamon cookies and it was equally wonderful.