This apple crisp has incredible depth of flavor and layered texture. If you could smell its divine aroma through your screen, you would already be in your kitchen baking this by now. The rosy apples, warming spices, buttery ghee, nutty almonds and hints of lemon and orange combine to swoon-inducing smell and flavor. The recipe looks like it has a lot of ingredients, but it really comes together quickly and is very adaptable (and forgiving!). We used apples we picked ourselves, which made this crisp all-the-more gratifying and delicious.
A couple weeks ago, we had a weekend getaway in the Catskill Mountains. It was a fall weekend for the books (fall-ish, due to 80 degree weather), filled with hiking, exploring, good food and apple-picking. Rarely do planned excursions with a toddler in tow live up to the idyllic picture you paint in your mind, but this weekend came pretty close to perfection. Fresh country air, a spacious airbnb and quality time together were a welcome respite from our busy urban life. It really showed in Rose with her rosy cheeks, her excitement to explore and run around in nature and her sheer joy at simply being together. This weekend got us thinking that maybe, just maybe we should move out of the city sooner rather than later.
While there, we went to the most beautiful orchard called Westwind Orchard. If you live in the NYC area, I highly recommend a day trip there. It is a certified organic pick-your-own orchard in the most picturesque setting. They also have an outdoor wood-burning oven turning out divine pizzas featuring farm fresh ingredients and they make their own hard cider. You can really make a day out of your excursion there.
We opted to fill a 20 pound bag of apples, which ended up being considerably more than I anticipated. As you may have noticed from my instagram feed, apples are dominating our meals these days. I never seem to tire of them, though — particularly apples such as those we picked. There is something about local, organic and freshly picked apples that puts imported apples to shame. They simply taste so apple-y, for lack of a better word.
Perhaps my favorite dessert is a crisp of any sort, so of course I immediately made an apple crisp with our pickings. In a moment of plan-ahead genius, I actually prepped crisp topping the night before our trip. I packed it along with a little container of apple filling mix-ins, and we had apple crisp in our airbnb less than an hour after we returned from apple picking. I will definitely be using that trick again in the future.
For the topping, I really like the combination of ghee and almond butter. For a vegan version, I have used coconut oil with great results. In addition to rolled oats, I also used almond flour and spelt. Again, both are easily swappable. For a gluten-free version, any gluten-free flour should work nicely here, except coconut flour. I kept this crisp naturally sweetened with coconut sugar, and I highly recommend you do the same. In the filling, to intensify the apple flavor I used a bit of local apple cider we had on hand, along with a squeeze of lemon and clementine. I also added lemon and clementine zest. You can use whatever citrus you have on hand. The apples cook down to tender, caramel-y perfection, while still retaining their fresh apple flavor (thanks to the brightness from the citrus).
I love this crisp, and I know it will be on repeat this fall and winter. It would be a beautiful and simple addition to your holiday menus. For Christmas, I plan to dress it up with fresh cranberries and perhaps some pears. I love how adaptable this crisp is – to the seasons and to what you have on hand. Topped with a scoop of yogurt or ice cream, dessert doesn’t get much better than this!