Cranberry Apple Crumble

Need a last minute dessert this holiday season? Look no further. I got you.

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This cranberry apple crisp is a healthier, no fuss option for the holidays this year; sometimes it’s easy to get swept away in the details and forget what you’re really celebrating. As you read this, I’m probably on the Amtrak from Union Station in Chicago to Troy, Michigan, to see my dad’s side of the family for Thanksgiving. My paternal grandfather died last month, and my family was kind enough to postpone the funeral until my other college age cousin and I could make it without missing classes.

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Though I’ll be happy to see them, this isn’t going to be a traditional Thanksgiving, with a turkey and multiple courses and stress about the meal being perfect. Though I’m not 100% sure I’ll make this specific dessert, this is a dish that shows what it means to have a laid back, low stress holiday season. I won’t be posting again until after the holiday, so to my American followers, have a great holiday!

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Ingredients

  • 2 apples, diced (I used one pink lady, one granny smith)
  • 1 cup whole cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • ⅓ cup halved pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, mix together the apple pieces and the cranberries, and toss with the arrowroot starch.

Pour the fruit into an 8 by 8 inch baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, in another bowl, whisk together the almond flour, the nuts and the cinnamon. Add the coconut oil and the maple syrup and mix until a wet dough is formed.

Spread the crumble dough evenly over the fruit and bake for another 30-35 minutes, until the cranberries and bubbling and the crumble topping is dry and golden.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Apple Pie

I was at a local grocery store lately and I saw something I’ve never seen before: $1.88 per pound honey crisp apples. Needless to say, I bought way more than I could’ve eaten.

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Some sort of apple dessert was in order, so I decided to truly embrace the fall tradition and make an apple pie. It was the perfect Sunday night dessert after a long weekend of journalism and editing video for the school paper, and it tasted even better than I imagined it would.

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But back to apples: honey crisps are my favorite both to eat and to cook with. They have a really good balance of sweet and tart, and are perfect as hand fruit and in desserts. Their unique flavor also allows for food that really showcases apple; I’ve had apple pies and turnovers that are sugary or heavily spiced, but I kept it light with just brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, hoping to let that apple flavor shine through.

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The dough recipe I already use was also perfect for this, and made just about the right amount for my 9-inch tart pan. I even had a tiny bit extra, that I used to make a flower detail on the top, just to make things fancy. After all, it is almost November and soon all the apples will be out of season.

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If you’re ever in need of something easy and comforting, try out this pie recipe and tell me what you think of it. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

for the crust

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup cold butter, cubed
  • ½ cup ice cold water

for the filling

  • 5 mid-size apples, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons butter (for sautéeing)

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together your flour and salt.

Then, with your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter cubes into the flour, making sure not to let your body heat melt the butter. Do this until you reach a crumbly, sand-like texture.

Add in the cold water two tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

In the meantime, prep your apples. In a large bowl, mix together your diced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-low heat, and let the butter melt in it before adding your apples.

Cook the apples for 5-8 minutes, or until they’re soft and fragrant.

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Take your dough out of the fridge, and roll out into two large sheets, ¼” to ⅛” thick.

Lay one of the sheets at the bottom of a lightly greased pie or tart pan (I used a tart pan because I like how the finished product looks, but a pie pan is easier to use) and cut off the excess. If using a tart pan, be careful to get the crust into all the little nooks.

Fill the pie bottom with your sautéed apples, then lay the second piece of dough on top and use your fingers to meld the two dough sheets together. Then, vent your pie. I had excess dough, so I added a little flower design on top to make it that much more special.

Brush the crust with an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon cream or milk) and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the kitchen smells like baked apples.

Let the pie cool completely before serving

Note: if using a tart pan, make sure to use one with a removable bottom, so that the pie can be released from the pan and served.

 

Almond Apple Crisp

Apples are the hallmark of fall. I always get irrationally excited when they’re in season, and daydream about sitting outside in a sweater with a honeycrisp apple in hand. It may be a little early for sweaters and honeycrisps, but apples are officially in season, so I’m going to kick it off with a super easy fall dessert: apple crisp!

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But this isn’t your ordinary apple crisp. While the dessert is tried and true, it can oftentimes get boring. So to add a little bit of a kick to my version, I added almond extract and sliced almonds on top. Apples and almonds and vanilla ice cream on top….mmm…

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There’s just something special about the crunch of the topping, the soft apples and the flavor of all the fall spices, especially for the first time in the season. If you’re like me and love fall, make this crisp. You won’t regret it.

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Ingredients

for the apple filling

  • 2 red apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter

for the oat topping

  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, sliced or slivered

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

In a small bowl, mix the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon until each piece of apple is coated in sugar and cinnamon.

Heat the butter in a pan until it fully melts, then dump the apples in the pan and let them cook and caramelize until they are soft and fragrant. Take the pan off heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour and spices and give them a whisk. Then, add the brown sugar and the butter and mix again, until the mixture is wet and crumbly.

Finally, stir in the almond extract; you’re more than welcome to leave it out, but even if you love almonds, I wouldn’t recommend using any more than the ½ teaspoon. That stuff is strong.

Grease two or three ramekins–I say two or three because size varies–then fill halfway up with the apple mixture. Fill the remainder of the ramekin with the topping, then sprinkle with the sliced almonds.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 16-18 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

 

The Apple Orchard

This past weekend I went to the local apple orchard with my family to get apples, desserts and a little outdoor time.

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This time of year, there are tons of apple varieties in season. The orchard conveniently stocks apples up in a building so walking around isn’t necessary. We bought Galas, Heralds, Cortlands and a variety I’d never tried called Song of September. Naturally, I’m planning on finding ways to cook with these apples. I already have an apple crisp coming up soon, but I’ll definitely have more.

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At the orchard, they also have a handful of desserts to buy. We always get half a dozen apple cider donuts, most of which my brother eats. I always have a bite or so, but fried donuts don’t always sit well with me, so I’m planning on trying a baked version. And this time I got a warm, sugar-coated apple turnover. The flaky dough was packed with apple compote and I couldn’t resist eating it quickly and burning my tongue.

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But the absolute best part of the visit was this kitten I made friends with. I have two cats and, despite being allergic, love all cats more than most people. This little guy was hanging around the picnic tables and letting kids pet him, and occasionally attacking various bits of grass.

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I hope you guys are having a fun start to fall–though it’s not really fall yet–and enjoy the cute pictures of this photogenic cat.

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