Fall is in full swing and one of the best parts of the season is anything and everything apple! Well, pumpkin too but that’s another post. Enter the best apple crisp I’ve ever had, made or been in the presence of. Hence the name ” crack” crisp. I know I sound like I’m over selling it but Adam’s exact words were ” this is the best apple crisp I’ve ever eaten.” As a very picky crisp eater- I’m taking his word for it. The key- fresh apples!
Wanting to take advantage of the beautiful crisp weather in Charlottesville this weekend, Adam, pup and I headed up to Carters Mountain to pick some apples and stuff ourselves with apple cider and apple cider donuts. See, I wasn’t kidding about the apple everything. If you are ever in Charlottesville- do not miss Carters Mountain. Blue ridge mountain views, cider ( of the hard and warm variety) apple cider donuts and peach swirled ice cream… need I say more. Plus it’s pup friendly, kid friendly and during the spring/summer months have a weekly Sunset series with live music and delicious food. All you cville readers- you already know what I’m talking about.
Once we had eaten our weight in apple donuts and Tilly had played with(more like tackled) as many dogs as possible, we grabbed some Pink Lady and Stayman apples. I had a crisp in mind already and wanted to get a mix of sweet and more subdued apples so the flavor was nice and balanced. This combo proved to be perfect.
Once we got home and I was ready to start- I began my research for a recipe or two to give me some guidance for the apple crisp. For classic dishes, I usually start with Ina Garten as she is incredible. My good friend and former college roommate Adam Santalla, introduced me to the wonders of Ina and her all knowing cooking knowledge. For you food network fans- she’s the Barefoot Contessa. This woman seriously can throw down in the kitchen. Plus- she’s living the dream. Cooks all day in the Hamptons for friends and see’s her beloved husband on the weekends.
Ina’s recipe was a great starting point. I pulled aspects from her recipe and this Bon Apetit recipe. Of course, I took some creative liberty too to make it my own. The goal of this crisp was to make it crunchy on top which is always my struggle with these types of dishes. Spoiler alert- I succeeded and you’re in for a stupid good treat!
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 8×8 glass baking dish and peel, core and cut apples into wedges. I use those apple cutter’s to make this really easy. Be sure to peel the apple- it will make a huge difference on texture if you leave the skin on.
Whisk the first 8 ingredients together in a medium bowl to blend. Add the diced butter and rub with finger tips until small moist clumps form and mixture is crumbly. This can take a little time- be patient. See photo below as reference.
Stir sugar and butter in large skillet over medium heat until smooth sauce forms. Add lemon juice and stir over heat until caramel sauce is a light brown, about 3- 5 minutes. Continue stirring to ensure sauce doesn’t burn. Mix in salt and apples, tossing apples until they are evenly coated and cooked slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour apples and caramel sauce into the 8×8 glass baking dish and spread evenly. This caramelizing the apples tip before baking is a life changer. It made a huge difference on how the fillings texture.
Cover the apples with topping evenly.
Bake the crisp, uncovered, until the top looks golden and crunchy, apples are tender and the sauce is bubbling and thick.* About 50-55 minutes. Let the crisp cool 10-15 minutes and top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Or in our case.. both!
The warmth of the apples, sweetness of the caramelized filling and crunch of the oats/walnuts on top covered by melting vanilla ice cream will have you calling it “crack” crisp too.
*Tip for extra crispy topping
After 55 minutes put the oven on broil for 1-2 minutes and let the top really crisp up. Don’t leave the kitchen though as broil is super hot and can burn the top of your crisp if you’re not careful. The entire goal of this crisp was to accomplish the caramelized apple inside with a crispy topping so this step was crucial!
DIG IN! If you’re anything like Adam and I- you won’t be able to help yourself from eating it for breakfast the next day with a cup of coffee. 🙂