The restaurant in Vermont where I started my cooking career was famous for their apple crisp- fragrant with cinnamon, and boasting a delightfully crunchy walnut and brown sugar topping. Each fall, as soon as the Santa Anna winds subside here in Los Angeles and brisk weather arrives, I think about my autumns in New England and want to cuddle up with a warm bowl of fruit crisp, with vanilla ice cream melting into the tangy filling.
Today it finally cooled down enough to get enthused about planning our Thanksgiving menu, and I want to serve an apple crisp for dessert.
This will be my second gluten-free Thanksgiving. Last year my sister-in-law brought her signature fall offering- a big bowl of pomegranate arils and blackberries, topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream. We will enjoy that again this year, but I am prepared to bake a gluten-free dessert to add to the feast.
Since changing my diet, I like to serve sweets that are naturally gluten free or a treat that doesn’t rely on wheat flour for its success. The fruit crisp here is a good example. I fill a baking pan with sliced pippin apples and dried tart cherries, and then top the fruit with a simple mixture of oats, dark brown sugar, spices, walnuts, butter, and just a little gluten-free flour mix. Crystallized ginger is my all-time favorite addition to desserts, and I couldn’t resist slipping some into the crunchy topping.
This recipe is easy to put together on the busiest cooking day of the year. I will make the topping a couple of days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Late on Thanksgiving morning, while I am busy getting the turkey and side dishes ready, Steve will peel, core, and slice the apples. I’ll assemble the dessert, and have it ready to slip it into the oven as we sit down to the feast. However, this sweet is also great at room temperature, so if it fits your schedule better, bake it early in the day.
One more tidbit: If there is any leftover crisp, it will make a special breakfast the next morning, especially with creamy kefir or yogurt poured over the top.
Apple Crisp (Gluten Free) with Crystallized Ginger
- 1¼ cups gluten-free oats
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ¾ cup gluten-free flour mix, I like Cup4Cup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ¾ cup 1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 4 pounds Pippin or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1½ cups dried fruit such as cherries, tart cherries, cranberries, or raisins
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour mix, I like Cup4Cup
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Vanilla ice cream
- For the topping: In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar. Add the butter and rub in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the walnuts and crystallized ginger. (The topping can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate.)
- For the filling: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Combine the apples, dried fruit, sugar, lemon juice, flour, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Spoon the filling into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
- Sprinkle the topping over the filling. Bake the crisp until the topping is golden brown, about 55 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.