Let’s just say I’ve been around the block with apple crisp. I make it multiple times each fall and winter, and I even keep bags of prepared topping in the freezer to have at the ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about it. But a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a baking class at Sherry B Dessert Studio with my mom friend Christine. The theme of the night? Apple crisp, reimagined.
I ended up using a big sprinkle of cardamom, which is a spice I love, but definitely don’t use enough. It tends to get pushed to the back of the cabinet and forgotten about. Usually I just reach for cinnamon, and maybe nutmeg or ginger if I’m feeling fancy. But oh my goodness, my crisp was amazing. The filling was so fragrant and warming. When he was on his second bowl, Alex even paused, spoon raised, to ask “What is this spice?”
Is there anyone who doesn’t love apple crisp? I honestly think I would conclude my last meal on earth with a giant bowl of it topped with vanilla ice cream. It’s one of those rustic, unfussy desserts that has everyone gathered around the table and digging in with a spoon. At least, that’s how we eat it in my family.
Hazelnut Apple Pear Crisp
For the filling
- 1 pound Granny Smith apples 2 or 3
- 1 pound firm-ripe pears 2 or 3
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
For the topping
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup whole unsalted hazelnuts
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick, diced
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Peel, core, and dice the apples into large pieces. Transfer them to a large bowl. Repeat with the pears. Add the sugar, flour, orange zest, orange juice, cardamom, and cinnamon and toss to coat. Transfer the fruit to a 2-quart baking dish (like an 8-x-8-inch pan).
Combine the flour, hazelnuts, light brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture begins to come together in clumps.
Sprinkle the topping over the apples and pears and bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is crisp and golden-brown, 40 to 50 minutes.