I saw the first cranberries of the year in the store this week, and decided to make an apple cranberry crisp to celebrate. I based my recipe on the apple crisp recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but modified it a bit.
For the topping:
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp.)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp.)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
- 3/4 cup pecans or whole almonds (I used 100g of pecans)
For the fruit:
- 2 1/2 pounds apples, equal parts granny smith and mckintosh, unpeeled and cut into one-inch chunks (about 5 cups)
- 250g cranberries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (optional, I left it out)
- For the Topping: Place the nuts in a food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade. Pulse the nuts to a medium chop. Pour the mixture into a small bowl. Next, place the flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in the food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture moves from dry sand-like appearance with large lumps of butter to a coarse cornmeal texture, about three 4-second bursts. Add to the nuts, and distribute evenly. The mixture should resemble crumbly sand. Do not overmix or the mixture will take on a smooth, cookie-dough-like texture. Refrigerate mixture while preparing fruit, at least 15 minutes.
- For the fruit: Toss cut fruit, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in medium bowl.
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Scrape fruit mixture with rubber spatula into 8-inch square (2 quart) baking pan or 9-inch round deep dish pie plate. Distribute chilled topping evenly over fruit; bake for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees; bake until fruit is bubbling and topping is deep golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Serve warm with ice cream.
To make a larger crisp that serves 10-16, double all the ingredients, use a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, and bake for 55 minutes at 375 degrees, without increasing the oven temperature. Instead of apples, you can use stone fruit cut into half-inch wedges. If using plums, Cook’s Illustrated recommends adding one tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca to the fruit mixture, to keep it from being too juicy.
Cook’s Illustrated recommends peeling the fruit (including the apples), but I like the peels, so I leave them in.
I used an unknown quantity of apples, of unknown variety. I know they weren’t granny smith or mckintosh. They were what the lady at the farmer’s market said were good for baking. I suspect I ended up with about 3 pounds of chopped apples, which was quite a bit more than 5 cups. As a result, they wouldn’t come anywhere close to fitting in an 8×8 pan. I ended up using a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, but not doubling the topping recipe. As a result, the topping was quite a bit thinner than normal. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to enjoy it a lot. There’s something very rustic and satisfying about the big chunks of unpeeled apples stewed together with the tart, bright red cranberries.
Even with the addition of the cranberries and lemon juice, the crisp still ended up quite sweet. Next time I might try cutting down on the sugar added to the apples.
Derek: A- (He said it had more depth of flavor than a typical apple crisp, presumably because of the cranberries.)
Update Oct 21, 2102: I made this recipe again but this time made sure to only use about five cups of chopped apples, plus about 300g of (frozen) cranberries, and about 2 tsp. of chopped ginger. The apples kind of fell apart this time, however, turning fluffy and almost apple saucy. I guess they weren’t the right kind for a crisp. I liked the addition of the ginger, but it tasted different than last time. The ginger masked the nice lemon flavors. Also, I didn’t have time to chill the topping and as a result the topping started to burn a bit.