November 17, 2009

TWD- Cranberry Caramel Apple Crisp with Walnuts

Now that I have two kids I figure it's about time to be a grown up. Part of that entails nuts, since my mom always told me I would like them when I got older. You know how grown ups always opt for the nuts on their sundaes and in their banana bread (blasphemy!)? But I'll be honest... I'm not quite there yet. I love certain nuts but I'd never want nuts in my cookies and heaven forbid they get sprinkled on top of something creamy like pudding and ruin the texture. And cocoNUT? I don't want that in any form (am I the only person who thinks it tastes like sunblock?) However, one thing I've decided actually really benefits from the addition of nuts is any sort of crumb topping, so I added walnuts to topping of this delicious crisp and then threw in some chopped up caramel since I'm really still a kid at heart.

Now in all seriousness, one thing I've learned since I started baking too often is that you should follow your instincts with a recipe. Too often I've thought- I should add some whatever and decided to follow the recipe instead, only to try the final product and wish it had cinnamon or whatever I'd left out. I'm still up for trying new things and techniques but when I saw this recipe I knew it needed orange zest so I added it and it worked out great. The flavor enhanced all the others and was nice and subtle.

I'd also recommend subbing some whole wheat flour in the topping. With all the spice and flavors no one will be the wiser (how's that for grown up!) Don't forget you can easily sub in the fruits or nuts you have on hand or in the freezer- this recipe is good like that. Here's the recipe with my changes. I'm definitely going to make this again! Thanks for the fun choice, Repressed Pastry Chef! See the original there and don't miss the other versions from all the TWD peeps. This really is a delicious and quick recipe- perfect with all the holiday craziness already creeping up.

Cran-Apple Crisps
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

For the topping
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup old-fashioned oats
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces

For the filling
5 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch chunks
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, don’t thaw)
½ cup moist, plump craisins (if you are like me and bought the enormous bag at Costco and they've seen better days, plump them up in some hot water, or orange juice even, before mixing in)
1/2 cup chopped up Peter's caramel (or kraft caramels if you haven't succumbed and bought this yet, but you should!)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter eight ovenproof cups or bowls, each with a capacity of about one cup. Put the cups on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To make the topping:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms big curds, about 1 minute. (You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate it in an airtight bag.)

To make the filling:
Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide the fruit evenly among the cups then spoon an equal amount of topping over each portion of fruit. Bake the crisps for 40-45 minutes or until the topping is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling up around it. Transfer the cups to a rack and let them rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for the perfect fall dessert.


  1. Looks fabulous! I've always loved nuts for snacking, it's only been recently (last 5 years I guess) that I like them in baked goods, though I still opt for sundaes without them :) I'm 42, so it took me a while! LOL I made this this week too and I loved it! Though I think I'll cut the sugar back next time.

  2. I bet that the orange zest in these cookies adds a wonderful flavor. I'm going to make a note to try this sometime. I'm with you, I like nuts only sometimes. I'm not all the way there on liking nuts in my baked goods though. Your crisp looks lovely.

  3. Looks terrific. I was thinking of tossing some caramel into mine when I make it for Thanksgiving. Sounds divine!

  4. I love the idea of caramel in the topping -- when I finally get around to making the crisp, I'll try that for sure. Thanks!

  5. oooooooo yum!
    O my gosh, I missed your PW post !
    Wow !
    If you come out with a book,please go on a tour !
    Hugs to the babies,
    Auntie Queen B

  6. Orange zest sounds like a delicious addition! Your crisp looks wonderful. I like nuts in some things but my husband doesn't like them in almost anything, so they usually don't end up in my baking.

  7. This looks great! I thought I was the only one that wasn't crazy about nuts in my cookies. And I can definitely do without shredded coconut in my desserts.

  8. I used only whole wheat flour in the topping and I think it worked out really good. Looks fabulous, Anne.

  9. Looks delicious and sounds like the orange zest made this! Who wants to be a grown up I am not a nut girl either!

  10. Looks beautiful.

    I added caramel to mine.

  11. I love your tweaks! I haven't made this one yet but will definitely add nuts to the crisp, and orange zest too. And extra cranberries (I saw that on Nancy's post) and vanilla ice cream. I should just make the thing before it gets any more evolved!

  12. I actually added orange zest too and just like you said.. it makes a world of difference. I love the way this dessert turned out. Yours looks awesome!

  13. Awesome crisp! I've always loved nuts. But I hear you about parents saying someday you'll like...whatever. Let's see, Mom, I've always hated onions, still do and just turned 40. Nope, not looking like I"ll ever grow up!

    But great job trying out walnuts. I added walnuts to my crisp, too, because I think they should have nuts as well! Ooh and the orange zest sounds great.
    Love your photos.

  14. Hurrah for being grown up!

    I agree with you that crumb topping needs some sort of nut. Your crisp looks delish!

  15. Thanks for the great substitution and addition ideas,especially caramel! I may have to try one or two when I make this next week. Yours looks divine!

  16. Loved this post. I feel the same way about nuts. I had to ask my mother-in-law (in the smallest voice possible) to leave a couple of cinnamon rolls nutless just two weeks ago. And coconut is definitely for sunscreen and shampoo!

  17. I never want to grow up!

    I'm going to try using whole wheat flour in the crisp part next time.

  18. A lovely post! I'm still not grownup enough for cranberries, so I used plums.

  19. This looks super-tasty, I'll definitely be bookmarking this to bake soon (though I think it might be something I bake for my parents instead of my friends-- most of my college friends aren't real big fans of nuts in their baked goods, either).

    Also, agreeing with the coconut-tasting-like-sunblock thing. Blech.