Apple Hazelnut Crisp
I’ve been keeping a secret from all of you. Apple crisp might be one of my favorite desserts of all time. There’s something about that warm, gooey apple filling and buttery oat topping that speaks to me.
In my mind, a great fruit crisp is lightly spiced, perfectly balanced in sweetness and tartness, and unpretentious. Easy comfort food that delivers on flavor, texture, and deliciousness.
I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to share an apple crisp recipe with you, but today’s the day. If you are swimming in freshly picked apples, looking for a simple Thanksgiving dessert, or craving apple crisp (it happens), this recipe is for you.
It is the best apple crisp recipe that I’ve made to date.
Best Apples for Apple Crisp
Just as we did in this apple cranberry pie, the best apple crisps are made with a variety of apples.
This crisp recipe uses an equal combination of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples to achieve that. These are readily available and each contribute varying levels of sweetness, tartness, and texture.
My favorite apple crisps have a good mix of cooked down apple pieces and some pieces that are slightly firmer (yet not at all crunchy or dry).
Granny Smiths contribute tartness and hold their shape better as they cooked. Honeycrisp apples are sweeter, give off more liquid, and become softer (without becoming too mushy) during baking. It is the perfect mix.
Chopped Apples vs. Sliced Apples
There are all sorts of apple crisp fillings. Ones made with sliced apples, others made with large apple chunks, and some made with smaller chopped apple pieces.
After trying a variety of methods, I discovered that chopped apples (specifically, 1/2-inch-thick pieces) produce the most consistent, best results for homemade apple crisp. I highly recommend this method if you’ve had mixed results with other crisps.
Smaller apple pieces cook down more quickly, more evenly, and, in my experience, ensure that you won’t be left with any undercooked, slightly crunchy apple piece or dry filling. Chopping the apples also has the added benefit of making the crisp easier to serve and, in my opinion, a lot more enjoyable to eat.
Apple Hazelnut Crisp Topping:
A classic apple crisp is as much about the crisp, butter-flecked oat topping as it is about the warm apple filling.
My ideal crisp topping is made with wholesome ingredients, like flour, old fashioned rolled oats, cold butter, brown sugar (which offers more flavor than granulated sugar), spices, and salt.
For this recipe, I turned to my favorite Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats. They are milled from high-quality fresh oats, certified organic, and come in a super convenient resealable bag. We always have a bag (or two) in our pantry.
I love the chewy texture and flavor that they add to apple crisps, and always use a generous portion in my crisp toppings. To add more texture, we’re also throwing in some chopped hazelnuts.
The topping for the recipe comes together quickly in a mixing bowl (using your hands) and can be prepared in advance – refrigerated or frozen – if you’re looking to get ahead during the holiday season. Doesn’t get easier than that!
What Makes This Apple Crisp Different
I know what you’re thinking. There are a million different apple crisp recipes on the internet. Why is this one any different?
- Variety of Apples – similar to this apple cranberry pie, this crisp uses a combination of tart and sweet apples, specifically Granny Smith and Honeycrisp, for flavor and texture.
- Warming Spices – this apple crisp recipe uses a lovely mixture of ground cinnamon, allspice, and ginger in the filling and crisp topping.
- Lemon Zest and Juice – in my opinion, there’s not many desserts that don’t benefit from the addition of citrus zest or juice. It helps balance sweetness.
- Apple Cider – to take the apple flavor up a notch, we’re adding apple cider to the apple filling mixture. It adds moisture (which quickens the cooking), concentrates down with the apples, and becomes almost caramel-like in texture. So good!
- Chopping the Apples – after testing a variety methods, I’ve discovered that chopping apples (as opposed to slicing or leaving them in large chunks) yields the most consistent and best textured crisp.
- Hazelnuts – this apple crisp topping contains chopped whole raw hazelnuts. They’re subtle, but I love the added texture they add to each bite. Feel free to substitute them with other chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, etc.) or leave them out.
This apple crisp takes about 55 to 70 minutes to bake in the oven. It will vary a bit depending on whatever apples you are using that day.
The crisp topping should be golden brown and the apple filling should be bubbling lightly around the edges of the baking dish. I like to use a paring knife to poke the apples and make sure they are tender. If the knife meets any resistance, continue baking for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Allow the crisp to cool slightly out of the oven before serving warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream. Enjoy!
Apple Hazelnut Crisp
- 2 and 1/4 lbs apples (roughly 5-6 large apples or 8-9 smaller apples), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (*I like to use an equal combination of tart and sweet, such as Granny Smith and Honey Crisp)
- 1/3 cup (70 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) apple cider
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons (16 grams) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (90 grams) unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (50 grams) Bob's Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 1/4 cup (55 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cubed
- heaping 1/4 cup (35 grams) whole raw hazelnuts, chopped
- vanilla ice cream or heavy cream, for drizzling (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 C) with a rack in the center position. Set aside a half sheet pan.
Prepare the Filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped apples, brown sugar, apple cider, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt. Toss until well combined. Set aside while you prepare the topping.
Prepare the Topping: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the all purpose flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt. Add the cubed butter and toss until coated. Using your fingertips, work and press the butter into the dry ingredients, until the butter is dispersed and there are a good mixture of smaller and larger crumbs. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.
Assemble: Transfer the apple mixture (and any juices) to a 2-quart capacity baking dish (or alternatively, an 8-inch square baking pan) and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the crisp topping over the apples into an even layer (do not press down). Set the baking dish in the center of the half sheet pan.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 C) for 50 to 65 minutes, or until the crisp topping is golden brown and the apples are fork tender and the filling is bubbling slightly around the edges. If the topping is gaining too much color, lightly cover the baking pan with foil for the remainder of the baking time.
Allow the crisp to cool on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm and top with vanilla ice cream (or a drizzle of heavy cream), if desired.
Tips For Success:
- I like to use an equal combination of tart and sweet apples, such as Granny Smith and Honey Crisp, for apple crisps.
- The crisp topping can be prepared, stored in an airtight container, and refrigerated for up to week. It can also be frozen for up to two months. It can be used straight from the fridge or freezer to the oven.
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