If there is a more perfect (and gorgeous) dessert for fall – and everyone’s fave holiday (aka Thanksgiving) – than an apple cranberry crisp, well, I have yet to be introduced. First, it is easy to assemble, calling for ingredients that are already in your pantry and not a stitch of special equipment. Second, it is delicious and comforting and texturally exciting – I mean maybe I don’t get out enough, but crispy, sweet, buttery, oaty bits a top soft juicy fruit?? Sign me up. Third, it takes about 5 minutes to prepare – a little longer to cut the apples – and only 45 minutes to bake (in short, this all translates into dessert on the table in less than an hour. You’re welcome). And finally, the cranberries contribute to making this one of the prettiest desserts in the land, as the juices that bubble up around the edges and those that pool a bit in the dish once served, are quite literally the most beautiful garnet in color. I mean fruit-topped crisps and crumbles will always fall into the simple dessert category, but sometimes they get a little back-burner’ed – however, this apple cranberry number is going to change all that.
Now, before I do a deep-dive into why this crisp is so darn special, you may be wondering what the difference is between a crisp and a crumble and although if you asked me “off-line” I’d say zilch, the internet will tell you differently. In short, when you google this age old query, you find that although both desserts are comprised of baked-fruit, topped with something buttery and sweet, crisp toppings call for oats and crumble toppings – you guessed it – do not.
And because I am a rule-follower, this crisp does indeed call for oats in the topping and they really do contribute delightful crispiness to it. However, I call for quick-cooking ones here, for the oaty (crispy) feels they impart, but without the “health food restaurant” vibes that some oat toppings give me. But you do you – old fashioned oats will 100% work here. My topping here also calls for melted butter, as opposed to cold, because assembling a crisp with melted butter takes about a minute, and assembling one by cutting cold butter into the sugar and flour does not (ie: using melted butter is a time-saver). The results are the same, however, so if you’d rather use cold butter, go for it. And a note about melting and cooling butter: in order to save additional time spent waiting for the butter to cool, only melt it until a few large chunks of butter remain – then whisk those chunks in by hand.
Finally the apple and cranberry filling is a complete no-brainer. I just ask that you whisk the dry ingredients first, before adding the apples and cranberries, so they evenly coat your fruit. Oh, and I like my apples in half-moon wedges that are sliced in half or even thirds – just a personal preference (I dig bite-sized pieces). However, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it again: if you are an apple-wedge peep from way back, then wedge it is. Hoping this cutie gets a coveted spot at your dessert table this November, if not before (and after) – as she’s just a straight-up keeper.
Apple Cranberry Crisp
For the apples:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (99 grams)
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- pinch cloves
- 4 medium apples (a scant 2 pounds, 850 grams), such as Granny Smith, peeled and cored and cut into ½-inch wedges
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (198 grams)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the crisp topping:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (90 grams)
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats (22 grams)
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar (213 grams)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (113 grams)
- Heavy cream for drizzling
- Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 1 1/2 to 2 liter baking dish, oval-shaped, with cooking spray or softened butter.
- To prepare filling, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and cloves ina large bowl. Stir in the apples, cranberries, and lemon juice with flexible spatula and transfer the apples and cranberries to the pan.
- To make the crisp, whisk all of the dry ingredients in the same bowl in which you just prepared the filling. No need to clean it first. Pour the butter into the dry ingredients and stir with a flexible spatula until clumps form. Generously sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 45 minutes until the juices bubble up on the sides, the topping is lightly browned, and the juices are bubbling underneath it in the center, when you poke at it a bit with a wooden skewer.
- Let it cool about 15 minutes before serving with a drizzle of heavy cream. The crisp will keep tightly wrapped on the counter for up to 3 days.