Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pretty-Good-For-You Apple Crisp

Some otherwise completely sane people believe that every dish presents an opportunity to ruthlessly cut fat, salt, and calories. That's not me. While it would be recklessly dishonest of me to say that I do everything in moderation, I believe that a cook has a duty to aim for the sublime, and if transcendence is achieved with a stick of butter, then try to limit yourself to a few bites.

That being said, I’m always glad to find a healthy recipe that delivers on more than just fiber, and I’ve found that Cook’s Country – the sister publication of Cook’s Illustrated, and published by public TV's America’s Test Kitchen – actually has some pretty great ones.

Most of the excess calories in a fruit pie or cobbler are delivered by a buttery, sugary crust, and it just can't be made healthy. A whole-wheat, low-fat pastry dough is an abomination that none should endeavor to eat. The pastry part of this apple crisp is rolled oats, a few pecans, a sneaky secret ingredient, and a little bit of butter and sugar. It’s delicious and satisfying. (And begs for you to keep in mind that two tablespoons of whipped cream have only 50 calories - a little cream adds a lot to this dessert.)

Healthier Apple Crisp
Adapted from Cook’s Country
Serves 6-8


6 large Golden Delicious apples (8 ounces each), peeled and cored
1 cup apple or pear juice
1 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon juice


2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (don’t use instant or quick oats)
1/3 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whipped cream; recipe follows


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice apples into 1/4-inch-thick wedges.

Bring half the apple slices, apple juice, sugar, and cinnamon to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are fairly tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat, let cool for five minutes, and mash the apple mixture using a potato masher.

Set aside 1 tablespoon mashed apple mixture from the pan.

Return burner under the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining apple slices and cook, covered, until slices just begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and stir in lemon juice.

Process the oats in a food processor until ground pretty finely, about 15 seconds. Add Grape-Nuts, pecans, sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon, salt, and reserved apple sauce; pulse two or three times to mix. Set aside.

Scrape apple filling into 8-inch square baking dish and press into an even layer. Sprinkle topping over filling and bake until juices are bubbling and topping is deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Serve with a little whipped cream.

Vanilla-Bourbon Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons bourbon

In a chilled glass bowl, whip cream with an electric mixer until it begins to thicken. Add confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and bourbon. Continue to beat until peaks form.


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  3. One of my favorite food. I love your way of making it. I'll follow your procedures. Thanks a lot.

  4. Very good. I made this with a 10-year old - it was her first time baking, and it all turned out well. Tasted good as a dessert, as well as for breakfast the next morning.