Easier than pie and just as—if not more—delicious, crisp is the shortest route to fruit dessert happiness. And while this recipe calls for apples, the buttery, lemon-nutmeg pecan topping (loosely adapted from chef Suzanne Drexhage of Berkeley's Bartavelle) is equally at home on berries, peaches, or any other crisp-bound fruit.
Why this recipe works:
- Toasted pecans, raw sugar, lemon zest, and grated nutmeg combine to form an easy crisp topping full of contrasting textures and flavors.
- A mix of firm, tart apples and softer baking apples yields a balance of flavor and texture.
- A small amount of whiskey in the fruit (Scotch, bourbon, or rye) adds complexity to sweet apples.
Note: Substitute 1 teaspoon or 4 blades mace in place of the nutmeg for a more complex flavor.
- Yield:Serves 6 to 8
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:About 1 hour
- For the crisp topping:
- 100 grams (3 3/4 ounces, about 3/4 cup) all purpose flour
- 165 grams (5 3/4 ounces, about 3/4 cup) raw (Turbinado) sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated zest from 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg (see note above)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 100 grams (3 3/4 ounces, about 1 cup) toasted pecans
- 145 grams (5 ounces, 10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
- For the apple base:
- 4 apples, cored and diced (a mix of firm, tart Fuji and Jona Gold as well as softer Golden Delicious)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons bourbon, rye, or Scotch
For the crisp topping: Pre-heat oven to 375°F. In a food processor, pulse flour, raw sugar, lemon zest, nutmeg, and salt until well combined.
Add pecans and pulse just until pecans start to break apart, 2 to 3 pulses. Some whole pecans should still be visible.
Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal with pea-sized chunks. Transfer to a bowl and chill in refrigerator or freezer until ready to bake.
To bake: Toss apples, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and whiskey in a large mixing bowl until evenly combined. Transfer to baking dish and cover with crisp topping, spreading it into an even layer across the dish. Do not pack topping down with your hands. Bake until topping is darker in color, sandy, dry, and firm to the touch, about 45 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.