I think the title really says it all--caramel, apples, crisp topping--I mean, who can resist that combo? I've made several apple crisps and they have all been good, but this one has been calling out to me for a while--6 years in fact, since I clipped it from a Bon Appetit magazine and put it in the folder-that-time-forgot-about, otherwise known as the back of my kitchen pantry. In any case, I'm glad that I found it now!
What I love about making fruit crisps is that you get a lot of bang for the buck--it's almost as special as pie, but it is so-o-o-o much less work and can kind of be done in the spur of the moment, whereas with fruit pie, you really have to plan ahead so your crust can chill. This comes together in a few easy steps, but unlike any of the other apple crisps that I've made, you prepare a caramel sauce and then coat the apples in that before you bake the whole thing with the topping in the oven.
First you make the topping by mixing flour, sugar salt and cinnamon together and then you blend in your chilled butter with your fingers--easy as pie, I mean crisp! Then, you chill that mixture till you're ready to bake the whole thing and what's nice is that you can make the topping up to a day in advance and keep it chilled, which really saves time.
Then you make the caramel. If you're like me until a few years ago, this is when you would have put the recipe down. You see, I had experienced a few burnt sugar disasters (a pot that was so destroyed I actually had to throw it away!) and I definitely had a touch of caramelphobia. Though caramel is one of my favorite things, I had sworn off any recipe where I actually had to create it. The angst was just not worth it!! Thankfully though, I overcame this problem (that's a story for another time) and am now a caramelphile! This caramel recipe is easy and as long as you don't let yourself get distracted and walk away from the stove while it's cooking, (don't think you can throw in a laundry or help someone with a math problem that you can't understand anyway) you should be fine. Basically, after you melt the butter and sugar together and add the lemon juice here's what it looks like at minute two:
Now here's what it looks like at minute five:
Next toss all of the apples into the caramel and cook it for another minute or so.
Then you toss it all in a pan and sprinkle the chilled crumble over it and bake.
Caramel Apple Crisp
Prep Time: 30 minutes; Bake Time: 45-50 minutes plus 15 minutes of cooling before serving
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 10 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons (1 /1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 apples (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored and sliced not too thinly
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
1. To make topping, whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl. Add butter and rub with your fingertips to make small moist clumps. Set aside. (This can be made up to one day in advance. If you do, cover it and keep in fridge).
2. To make the filling, preheat oven to 375ºF. Stir sugar and butter in large skillet over medium heat until smooth sauce forms. Add lemon juice and cook, stirring until the caramel is deep brown, about five minutes--Be careful not to burn it-stop cooking it sooner rather than later. Mix in salt and then apples. Toss until apples are evenly coated for about one minute.
3. Pour apples and caramel into a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle topping evenly over the top.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes until apples are tender, sauce is bubbling thickly and topping is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.