Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Apple Crisp with Oatmeal Cookie Crumble

I have a long list in the Notes app on my phone consisting of recipe ideas I'd like to try.  That way, if I am struck by a lightning bolt from the food gods, I can jot down my idea, wherever I am. This list is entirely separate from the massive folder of recipe bookmarks on my computer (8 subsections and counting). Rather than being a list of recipes, these are just idle snippets, sometimes from my food daydreams and sometimes from menu items or things I see on TV. They range from mouthwatering (bacon cheddar tater tots???*) to intriguing (crème brûlée cookies) to bizarre (chicken tikka tacos...) to patently absurd ("zucchini hash browns?"). I'm sure many of them will show up here eventually, this recipe being the first of them. I made oatmeal cookies a while ago and the idea for this came to me while I was staring at the leftovers.



First, cut your apples into thin pieces. It seems that most people are pretty averse to peels in their desserts, so feel free to peel them if that bothers you. I don't mind them, especially since I find the skin has a lot of flavor. As far as apple variety goes, anything will work, but I'm going to make a case for tart apples. I like my apples tart enough to make my face twitch, but even if you generally like sweeter apples, consider something a little on the tart side to counter the considerable sweetness of the cookies. Then pulse a few cookies in a blender or food processor - it's important just to pulse here, and not flat-out blend. The cookies will crumble easily, and you don't want to pulverize them. You could probably even do this part by hand.

Then, mix in some butter, pastry-style. This is the part I definitely like to do by hand**, but you can use a fork, two knives, or a pastry blender. You don't want the butter to completely incorporate, which is why we start with cold butter. You're done when everything is in coarse crumbs.

Finally, pop the apples into a few ramekins or, if you happen to have them, some adorable baby Dutch ovens, and top with the delicious crumbly goodness. It's fine if some of the topping slips under the apples; it will melt and mingle with the apple juices and generally be wonderful. Bake for a half hour, and when it comes out, you'll have a nice, crunchy topping with soft, melty apples underneath. The apples will sink a lot as they release their juices...


leaving just enough room for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

* If you're wondering what could possibly have been so important to stop me from making these, I honestly don't know. Please accept my apologies along with a promise to get going on a recipe.
** Until fairly recently, I had a serious phobia of touching butter. I'm pretty proud of how far I've come in this department.

Apple Crisp with Oatmeal Cookie Crumble
Yield: 2 larger or 4 smaller servings

Ingredients
1 large or 2 smaller apples (my apple was about 9 oz)
4 leftover oatmeal cookies1
2 tbsp cold butter, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches ground nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
Coarse or flaky sea salt (optional)

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Peel the apple(s), if desired, and then core and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  2. In a blender or food processor, pulse the oatmeal cookies until no large pieces remain. This should only take a few pulses, at most, so try not to overdo it. The pieces will probably vary in size a bit, which is fine.
  3. Move the cookies to a small bowl and add the butter. With your favorite tool for the job (hands are good!), mix in the butter until it is in small pieces (the usual suggestion is "pea-sized" pieces) and the mixture looks like chunky crumbs. Mix in the spices and salt.
  4. Divide the apples evenly between four 6-oz or two 12-oz ramekins or small baking dishes (I used my beloved tiny Dutch ovens) and do the same with the crumble.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, covering during the last 10 minutes if you prefer a softer topping. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve (preferably with ice cream).
Notes
  1. My cookies were about 2.5-3 inches in diameter.
  2. As mentioned above, keep in mind the sweetness of the cookies you're using and adjust your salt and the type of apple accordingly.
  3. I used leftover cookies because I thought fresh cookies would be too soft and wouldn't make very good crumble material. I haven't actually tried this with fresh cookies though, so feel free to experiment.

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