Before I share this maple sweetened apple crisp recipe with you, I’m going to tell you something, and I am pretty sure you’re going to think I’m a big fat liar. But I’m going to tell you anyway.
There are 7,500 varieties of apples grown in the world. I know. Liar liar pants on fire, right?
But I’m not making this up. University of Illinois says so. Crazy huh? Even crazier to think that in all that amazing diversity, there are only 100 varieties grown commercially in the US.
Now I am tempted to spend the next 20 minutes trying to rack my brain to come up with all of the varieties I have seen/ heard of and or tried…. But I promised I would tell you about this amazing maple apple crisp. Focus Katie…. Apple crisp…..
How about a list of 5 awesome tips for making perfect apple crisp? Lists are good for focusing.
How to make the best Apple Crisp
- Use a blend of apples
The reason you want to blend your apples is that some varieties break down and get saucy when they are cooked, most notably the McIntosh, and some hold their shape, like the Gala. When you use a blend of apples you’ll get filling that is juicy and chunky. You’ll also get a more interesting flavor profile when you blend varieties, because different varieties taste sweet, tart or even floral. I had Galas, Honey Crisp and McIntosh from our apple picking adventures earlier this fall. I used a blend of them to make this crisp. My Macs were on the early-not super soft and not super sweet side. So I used about ¾ Macs, and ¼ firm. You can play around with the ratio depending on your variety, but I would use at least ½ juicy to make sure you don’t end up with dry filling. Other varieties that break down and become juicy are Winesap, Newton Pippin, Jonagold and Gravenstein. (Love those names!!)
- Sweeten with Maple Syrup
I wrote a whole cookbook about maple, so obviously I am a huge fan of it. But among the many reasons it is a great choice in apple crisp is that it is a natural sweetener so it is healthier because it is unrefined. Meaning nothing is added to it, and the only thing that is taken away from it is water… it’s just reduced sap from a maple tree. So it still retains its trace minerals and nutrients. Plus it has anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants and it is lower glycemic than other sweeteners. There are a bunch of reasons that have to do with the environment, but I am not going to get into that right this second… see I’m trying to stay focused…
- Spice it Up!
I used a heavy hand with the spice today because I wanted to make sure my house smelled 100% like fall while this crisp was baking. And I wanted the crisp to be 100% delicious. I used a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg for a perfectly classic taste, but you can also experiment with a little bit of allspice, ground ginger or clove too. Start with ¼ teaspoon. Or you can get a little more experimental and try cardamom or orange zest.
- Give Maple a Boost
In my cookbook, I refer to maple’s BFFs. These are the ingredients that naturally make maple taste more mapley. Because maple is a natural ingredient, and it’s natural maple essence has limited flavoring potential, strong flavors can overwhelm it. And I have to say that the cinnamon and nutmeg do somewhat overwhelm the natural maple flavors here. So I used two of maples BFFs, butter and pecans, to bring the maple flavor back out. When they’re paired with maple, it taste more mapley. So you can have your cinnamon and taste your maple too.
- Pile it High
I used my favorite 2 ½ quart casserole dish to make this, and it was heaping when I put the apples and crisp topping into it. But then when the apples cooked down and get all bubbly and juicy, they fit perfectly.
Okay, now we can go back to procrastinating and trying to name all of the apple varieties. Hmmm… Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Paula Red….
What apple varieties do you love?
What are your tricks for the best apple crisp?
Have you been apple picking this year?
Are there any spice combinations that you’re going to try?
This maple sweetened apple crisp is the perfect dessert to bake this Fall. It's made with a variety of apples to amp up the juicy flavor and then topped with pecans and rolled oats to really take it to the next level!
- 6 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 2 firm apples, such as Gala, peeled cored and sliced
- 3 Tablespoons plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 2/3 cup pure maple syrup, dark or amber
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup granulated maple sugar or brown sugar
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- ½ cup rolled oats
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2 ½ quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Toss apples, 3 tablespoons flour, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish.
- Mix the remaining 1/3 cup flour, butter and sugar together in a medium bowl with fingers until the butter is worked into the flour and the mixture becomes crumbly. Add nuts, oats and salt and work into the crumbs. Top the apple mixture with the crumb mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake 15 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking until the apple mixture is bubbling along the edges and the topping is golden 60 to 65 minutes longer.