Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A new favorite fall treat emerged in our household tonight. Please allow me walk you through the series of events that led to the creation of this decadent apple crisp.
First of all, apple crisp is one of my favorite fall desserts, so over the weekend I purchased some beautiful baking apples just for the purpose of constructing my mom's apple crisp.
Also over the weekend, I noticed a very distinct smell everytime I opened the pantry door. Once you've smelled this smell, even once, you always know just what it is: the smell of rotting potato. As soon as I noticed this stench, I quickly searched the potato bags in my pantry for the offending rotten potato. No luck. All of the potatoes in our pantry looked just fine. I quickly moved other items around in the pantry, making sure that a potato hadn't rolled off to die in peace elsewhere. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. I gave up for the moment...optimistically hoping that the smell was either a) a figment of my imagination or b) would go away on it's own. But when I opened the pantry to grab for a box of cereal on Monday morning, the smell hit me again. Okay... it was time for action. I took everything out of our pantry. It was due for organization anyhow. I did finally find the source of the smell. Two liquefying potatoes left in a bag and wedged under some bread flour and flaxseed meal. How did those get there? Yuck! I wiped down the shelves and returned the items in neat rows and stacks. During the cleaning effort, I came across a whole, un-opened bag of caramels, stashed toward the back of my baking shelf. The sell by date was January 2010, but I deemed them safe after tasting one. I made a "note to self" to use them up in the next month or so and placed them next to the chocolate chips as I wrapped up "Operation Rotten Potato".
This morning, my oldest daughter wanted to call my mom to discuss her upcoming visit. I heard them talking (via speaker phone) about our weekend trip to an apple orchard. "That's fun." my mom noted. And then she asked, "So what did you and mommy make with the apples? Has your mommy made caramel apples with you yet?" My daughter loves the chance to "tell on me" to my mom and she quickly answered, "Nope. But I know that she has caramels...I saw them when she was cleaning the pantry yesterday." Arrgh. Caramel apples. Definitely not on my to-do list for the week. It's not that I dislike caramel apples. In fact, a caramel apple was the first food I requested when I got my braces off 18 years ago. But I don't really like to make caramel apples. They are messy to prepare and messy for kids to eat. Plus, my daughter has a loose tooth right now and in my mind's eye I could see myself picking her itty bitty baby tooth out of a caramel apple after like, the second bite. Gross! I stopped eavesdropping and crossed the room to change/end the conversation. "It's your sister's turn to talk to grandma. Say goodbye!"
Once everyone had talked to grandma, I set about washing the breakfast dishes. The basket of fresh picked apples next to the sink kept staring back at me. I started thinking...caramel apples...apple crisp...caramel apples...apple crisp. And then it hit me: Caramel Apple Crisp! Now that could be good. Bonus: loose baby teeth rarely stick in baked apples.
Here's what I did:
First I decided to use my iron skillet, since I've never baked a crisp in my newly acquired iron skillet. I sliced about 6 cups of apples into the skillet. I used both Macintosh and Granny Smith apples. The tart Granny Smith apples worked nicely here against the sweetness of the caramel and the brown sugar crisp topping.
Then I unwrapped half a bag (or a little more) of Kraft caramels and transferred them to a microwave safe dish. Before melting, I added 2 tablespoons of water. Then I microwaved the caramels for about 2 minutes and stirred the mixture until smooth.
I poured the melted caramel over the top of the apples in the skillet...
until the apples were evenly coated.
Mmmm. A classic combination: apples and caramel.
Next, I combined some flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Once the dry ingredients were stirred together, I used a pastry cutter to cut in 6 tablespoons of butter, until the mixture resembled coarse crumbs. (I forgot to take a picture of this step).
Sprinkle the topping over the apples and caramel.
Even out the topping so that all of the apples are covered, then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes OR...
until the apples are tender, the topping is golden brown, and the edges are bubbly.
With the realization that my jeans were already feeling a little snug today and this dessert was probably the last thing that I needed after a cube steak and potatoes dinner, I was feeling a little obnoxious. So... I melted another 10 pieces of caramel and drizzled them over the top of this dessert. I know that this wasn't a healthy response to my predicament/emotions...but it worked for me tonight.
Now the only thing left to do was DIG IN!
Experience tells me that apple crisp is best served warm, alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Experience doesn't lie.
Caramel Apple Crisp
6 cups sliced peeled baking apples
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut up
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup quick oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
additional melted caramels and water for drizzling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place apples in the bottom of a 10-inch cast iron skillet or baking pan. Combine caramels and water. Melt in the microwave for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes and stir until smooth. Pour melted caramel over the sliced apples. Combine brown sugar, oats, flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping mixture over the apples and caramel, spreading evenly. Bake for 45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown, the apples are tender, and the sides are bubbling. Top with additional melted caramel, if desired. Serve warm with ice cream.
For a printable copy of this recipe, please click here!