Why It 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 (Scotch, bourbon, or rye) added to the fruit lends complexity to sweet apples.
Easier than pie and just as delicious, if not more so, crisp is the shortest route to fruit-dessert happiness. While this recipe calls for apples, the buttery topping scented with lemon and nutmeg (loosely adapted from a recipe by Chef Suzanne Drexhage of Berkeley, California's Bartavelle) is equally at home on berries, peaches, or any other crisp-bound fruit.
- For the Crisp Topping:
- 100g all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces; about 3/4 cup)
- 165g raw sugar, such as turbinado (5 3/4 ounces; about 3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated zest from 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg (see note)
- 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
- 100g toasted pecans (3 3/4 ounces; about 1 cup)
- 145g unsalted butter (5 ounces; 10 tablespoons), cut into small cubes and chilled
- For the Apple Base:
- 4 apples (preferably a mix of firm, tart Fuji and Jonagold as well as softer Golden Delicious), skin on, cored and diced
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) bourbon, rye, or Scotch
For the Topping: Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). 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 Assemble and Bake: Toss apples, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and whiskey in a large mixing bowl until evenly combined. Transfer to a 2-quart 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 crisp cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
2-quart baking dish, food processor
You can substitute 1 teaspoon (4 blades) mace in place of the nutmeg for a more complex flavor.