Combining caramelization with a bit more crunch creates a quite nice apple crisp

In Gourmandistan it is once again the season for apples (or as Michelle likes to say, “It’s decorative gourd season, motherfuckers“). Steve has begun his tradition of hauling home about as many GoldRushes (along with Stayman Winesaps and the end of the Paula Reds) as he can carry, while Michelle continues her habit of figuring out better things to do with apples than simply eat them out of hand. Steve, who likes snacking on apples, would like to say that’s at least one way apples are a better seasonal signifier than decorative gourds, motherfuckers. Michelle’s latest idea may be a permanent evolution in the way Gourmandistan approaches apple crisp.

We both enjoyed our first “crumble” made following the recipe in Nigel Slater’s Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard, especially Slater’s idea of cooking the apples before baking, which made for a delightfully slumpy, chunky and caramelized filling. But we agreed that, for us, it could use a little more crisp. On the second go, Michelle bumped up the lemon juice and added a generous glug of Calvados to the apple filling, then topped it with a more robust topping containing oats and nuts.

Caramelized apples plus crunchy topping, crowned by a scoop of silky Calvados ice cream. It may be decorative gourd season for some of you motherfuckers, but at the moment we prefer filling our baskets with fruit.


(apple filling adapted from Nigel Slater’s Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard/topping adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)


  • 2 lbs. apples
  • Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
  • 1/2 c. Demerara sugar
  • 3 TB butter
  • Calvados

Peel and core apples. Cut into thin slices, tossing as you cut them in a large bowl with lemon juice and half of the sugar.

Melt butter in a large skillet over what Slater calls “frisky heat” (i.e., pretty high). Add apple mixture. Toss occasionally (not too much) until apples are soft. Add remaining sugar and continue to cook, tossing occasionally (not too much) with a spatula, until apples are caramelized and even a little browned in places. Turn off heat, then add a generous splash of Calvados and stir in. Place apples and any liquid into a shallow baking dish or gratin pan.


  • 6 TB butter, cut into small chunks
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. rolled oats
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Place all ingredients except nuts in a bowl. With your fingers, work the ingredients together with the butter until crumbly. Add nuts and toss together.

Spread topping evenly over the apples in the baking dish. Bake in a 350° F oven until top is browned and filling is bubbling, about 30-35 minutes.

Serve with this delicious Calvados ice cream.


  1. Yvette

    Looks yummy! I had dinner at Bills last night!! It was amazing! Your mother has told me about this restaurant and finally went! .. BTW..this is Yvette Dexter ramsey!! The lady that makes your mom and ( my boyfriend) hair.. Buffy gets a kick out of me telling her that her dad is my boyfriend!.. I feel like I know both of you through your parents.. Love them both.

  2. Can I just say that any post that includes multiple uses of motherfucker is a good post in my book? AND a fab-looking recipe for apple crisp–that makes it a perfect post!

    • Agreed. It’s all about the quality of the ingredients and the local apples are so delicious in season. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me to cook the apples first. (And I think rum would be fine.)

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: