Shawn Hubbell's Apple Crisp with Cranberry-Oatmeal Topping

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8 servings

About 1 ½ hours

Really the “secret” here is that the topping is not granola-like, or streusel-like, but pretty much a cookie. Which would make it a cobbler in my book, but regardless of what you call it - it’s fantastic. Part of its appeal is the unusually aggressive (and really good) spicing. 

You can bake this in individual crocks, or any baking dish or ovenproof skillet that will hold all of the apples. Just remember, the more surface area the pan has, the thinner the layer of apples will be (I like a nice thick layer of fruit). 

Depending on how generous a scooper you are, you may have a little of the cranberry-oatmeal topping left over. If you want, you can use it to bake a few extra cookies on the side (scroll down to the bottom for directions), store it in the freezer for later, or just use it all up on top of the crisp (it’ll increase the ratio of cookie to apples, but if that sounds like your jam, go for it).  


For the topping:

2 eggs
½ cup dried cranberries
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus a little more for greasing the pan)
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup chopped nuts, optional  

For the apples:

3 pounds Honeycrisp or other sweet, firm apples, like Pink Lady, or Northern Spy, peeled and diced into ¼- to ½-inch cubes (you should wind up with about 9 cups of chopped apples)
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup 
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon cardamom 
1 teaspoon salt
Ice cream for serving, optional


1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Stir in the cranberries and vanilla, and set aside.

2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and mix until well combined. Add the egg and cranberry mixture, the oats, and the nuts (if you’re using them), and mix until everything is combined; the mixture will be stiff (just like cookie dough). Put it in the refrigerator while you prepare the apples.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the apples, brown sugar, maple syrup, cornstarch, spices, and salt until well combined. Grease a baking pan, or ovenproof skillet (cast iron is nice), and transfer the apples to the pan. If you prefer to bake the crisp in 8 individual crocks or ramekins, grease those too, transfer a little over 1 cup of the apple mixture into each one and proceed.

4. Spoon the cranberry-oatmeal topping onto the apples, 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, (space the mounds of dough as evenly as you can, but don’t spread them out; they should be roughly 1 ½ inches apart, depending on the size of your pan. You may have a little topping leftover; see headnote). Bake until the topping is nicely browned and the apples are bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving; the topping will crisp up a bit more as it cools. Serve with ice cream if you like. 

Baking Cookies with the Extra Topping
Heat the oven to 375 degrees (same temperature as the crisp, so you can bake them at the same time if there’s room). Drop tablespoon-size mounds of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for about 2 minutes on the sheets before transferring the cookies to wire racks to finish cooling. These will keep in an air- tight container for a day or two. 


DessertMark Bittman