Thursday, October 04, 2007

Not a crisp autumn...but a delicious autumn crisp!

I got home awfully late Monday night, so I didn't have time to make anything too complicated for Trivia Night on Tuesday. I had originally thought to make my signature Dutch Apple Pie since I still have a tote full of Cortlands. On a side note, I think I had their album in the 80's--A Toteful of Cortlands--they were from downstate, I believe (a joke for my fellow New Yorkers). But that would involve making crusts and chilling and rolling and more chilling on top of all the requisite peeling, coring and slicing. So I quickly abandoned that idea in favor of another plan. Since the weather can't seem to make up its mind, I decided to make a dessert that combined summer and fall flavors into a warm and comforting crisp. And other than dealing with the apples, crisps are the simplest things in the world to make, and everyone loves them because they are so homey and flavorful. I got this particular recipe from Joy of Baking, but I made a few changes, as is my way. One was to double the recipe to fill a 9x13 dish (I often end up feeding half the bar where we play trivia!). But the most important amendment was to add blueberries to the mix. I used frozen wild blueberries which added a wonderful bright flavor and turned the filling into the most AMAZING magenta color (which, by the bye, was my very favorite crayon color from the 72-crayon box with built-in sharpener, circa 1972). I also added some vanilla to the filling, because I love the flavors of both lemon and vanilla with blueberries. And finally, the recipe did not call for any thickening, and I was worried about a runny result, so I threw in some tapioca flour that worked perfectly. The juices were thickened but not so much as to turn the filling into a solid mass of fruit.

My team chided me for making such a mammoth dessert, but I didn't even have any left over to take home and photograph! So I snapped this quick (flash), unstyled photo on a crappy little paper plate (on top of our Brainstormer Pub Quiz answer booklet!) just to give you an idea of what it looked like. And it was well-received, to say the least. ;-)

Blueberry-Apple Crisp
(Adapted from: Joy of Baking)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar (I used dark brown here)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh or ground nutmeg (freshly grated, puh-LEEZ!)
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I opted for walnuts this time)

2 1/2 pounds or 6 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith Apples or other firm, tart-tasting apple
1 cup fresh blackberries or raspberries, optional (I used wild blueberries)
zest of 1 lemon, optional (I say this is
mandatory--but I used one lemon for a double batch, so that would be just half a lemon's worth for this recipe)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon tapioca flour (or thickener of your choice)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray with a cooking spray, a 9-inch, deep dish pie plate or an 8x8x2 inch baking dish. (Can also make 8 individual ramekins.) Set aside.

For topping: Place all the topping ingredients (flour, sugars, spices, butter, oats and nuts) in a food processor and process until the mixture is crumbly (looks like coarse meal) and there are no large pieces of butter visible. (This can also be done with two knives or your fingertips.) Set aside while you prepare the filling.

For filling: Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Place in a large bowl, along with the berries, lemon zest and vanilla, and add the brown sugar and thickener. Gently combine and then transfer to your prepared baking dish Spread the topping evenly over the apple mixture.

Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes (25 - 30 minutes for individual ramekins) or until the topping is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat before serving.

Makes 4 servings (I would say at least 6, maybe even 8 small servings)

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