Two Mondays in a row, I’ve assaulted your eyeballs with pictures of decadent desserts. Sorry, guys.
I know Mondays are usually reserved for getting back on track with the healthy routine, recuperating from the weekend indulgences, and so on…and I guess I haven’t been helping that cause lately. This crisp, though, is so worth the calories. Plus, it has APPLES in it, so I mean, it can’t be THAT bad for you, right? Wink wink.
Seriously, though. This crisp turned out so lovely. It hit all the right dessert notes for me, which might have something to do with the fact that I’m falling into my usual “OMG-IT’S-FALL-LET’S-EAT-ALL-THE-APPLES-PUMPKINS-AND-SQUASH-WE-CAN!!!” mode. I can’t help it. I adore this time of year and the food that comes with it! I have so much nostalgia surrounding this time of year, and I get swept up in it all every time. Nevermind the fact that we’re still having 80-degree days. It’s SEPTEMBER, people. Bring it on.
Am I the only nerd who actually MISSES going back to school? Not the actual school part so much, but all the ANTICIPATION leading up to returning to school? I mean, getting new school supplies (I’m a sucker for a good pen and fresh notebook. I LIVED for back-to-school sales) and finalizing that perfect first-day outfit were the best. Seeing who was in your classes. Using that fresh notebook for the first time. The nerves associated with meeting new teachers and hoping they like you. Seeing where your locker was going to be that year. All that stuff. I loved it. My husband thinks I’m crazy. The first day of school was always his most dreaded day of the year. Not me, though. I loved it because it meant that fall was finally here (and new school supplies!!! Did I already mention that?).
As a result, I always get a little reminiscent around this time of year. The kids are now back in school, the leaves will be changing before we know it, and the AWESOME crisp air of fall will soon be here. Give me all the pumpkin spice coffee, butternut squash soup, and apple pies you’ve got! This is the time of year for it. I totally fall into those clichés. No pun intended.
So yeah, this crisp is right in line with all of that. The crisp itself is pretty standard: apples, warm spices, sugar, butter, and oats all baked together until melded and perfect. It’s the redonkulous caramel sauce situation that has me wanting to shout from the rooftops. I’ve mentioned this many times before, but I LOVE caramel sauce. It is one of my most favorite treats (and I’ll pick it over hot fudge on an ice cream sundae anytime). Add a little sea salt into the mix and I’m done for. Add a little coffee flavor into the mix and I’m super done for. It’s just an incredible combination of flavors. Salted coffee caramel. OMG. So good.
It’s kinda like having coffee and apple crisp for breakfast. Which is totally reasonable for a Monday…
…minus the (mandatory) side of ice cream.
Apple Crisp with Salted Coffee Caramel Sauce (makes 6 servings)
5 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used Granny Smith)
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
For the Streusel Topping:
1 cup old-fashioned oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cubed
For the Caramel Sauce:
1 stick of unsalted butter
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
1 teaspoon fleur de sel (or other flaky sea salt)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Vanilla or coffee ice cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Combine the apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice/zest, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well until everything is evenly coated. Place the apples in the prepared baking dish.
For the Streusel Topping: Combine the oats, flour, sugars, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mix. Add the cold butter and pulse until just incorporated and crumbly.
Evenly distribute the streusel over the top of the apples and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Top with ice cream (optional) and the caramel sauce before serving.
For the Caramel Sauce:
Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat and add the sugar. Whisk until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Slowly add in the heavy cream, espresso powder, and sea salt and whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking frequently, until the mixture thickens.
Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk in the vanilla bean paste. Use immediately over the apple crisp or transfer to an airtight container for later use. The caramel will thicken as it cools. Reheat in a microwave on low in 10-second increments until pourable and warm.
Caramel sauce adapted from here.