A few weeks ago, Smitten Kitchen (by far my favorite food blog – go check it out!) posted a recipe that sounded so good I could hardly stand it: Pear, Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble. My mouth watered just thinking about it, even more so looking at Deb Perelman’s beautiful pictures. I had to have it right away.
But I didn’t plan very well. I went to the Co-op and bought cranberries and gingersnaps, but I didn’t buy pears; I already had some.
Turns out, I had one. I got home and found out that I had one single pear. Which would, needless to say, not cut it. But I had lots of apples…. And thus is a recipe variation born.
I didn’t change much else, except I omitted the lemon juice because my apples were quite tart already, reduced the cornstarch because apples are less juicy, and played a little bit with the spices. Also, I extended the cooking time because apples soften more slowly than pears. Oh, and I added some pecans because I adore pecans. See, I hardly changed anything!
It’s really fun to make this crisp – bashing the gingersnaps into crumbs, tumbling the brilliant red cranberries into the dish on top of the pale apple slices, gingersnaps somehow popping themselves into your mouth. It smells great in the oven. But most importantly, it tastes fantastic.
The topping separates itself into two parts: the “crisp” of the title and a wonderful thick spicy sauce. The lemon zest adds a wonderful aroma and flavor note that highlights the tart cranberries, while the apples form a comforting backdrop.
This is a perfect holiday dessert, so festive and wintry and warm, with that note of spice that brightens the chill grey days of winter.
Cranberry Apple Gingersnap Crisp
1 cup flour (can use 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup crushed gingersnaps
1/2 cup roughly broken pecan halves, optional
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt (if using unsalted butter)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white (or black) pepper
6 tablespoons butter, melted
4 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1.5 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Heat oven to 350.
Make the topping: Stir together flour, sugars, gingersnap crumbs, nuts (if using), and spices. Add melted butter and stir until the mixture starts to come together in large crumbs.
In a lightly greased medium baking dish, toss together the apples, cranberries, lemon zest, and extracts. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch; add to the fruit and toss again to coat. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit.
Put the dish on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour or until the apples are soft when poked with a fork. Let cool slightly before serving with whipped cream or ice cream, or all by its delicious lonesome. Leftovers make a fabulous breakfast.