Cranberry Apple Crisp 

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CRANBERRY APPLE CRISP - The perfect balance of sweet and tart adds something special to this easy crisp, which can easily be made dairy- and gluten-free if needed.

A delightful balance of sweet and tart adds something special to this easy crisp, which can be made dairy- and gluten-free if needed.

 

 

 

 

While I will always have a fond place in my heart for my grandmother’s black raspberry and apple pies, with their flaky, buttery crusts and sweet-tart fillings, I’ve broken with holiday tradition in recent years.

My family has taken a special liking to a variety of crisps, cakes and cake/pie hybrids over traditional pies. That said, I can eat Maple Pumpkin Pie filling by the spoonful! (If interested, I’ve linked this and other holiday-worthy dessert options directly above the recipe card.)

I first made the following festive twist on the traditional apple crisp several years ago. We were celebrating an early Thanksgiving with Nana and Pops (my parents) on what was a holiday “off year” for my side of the family.

I remember being especially pleased with my turkey that night, as it was the first time I truly thought the breast meat rivaled the dark meat in terms of being tender and juicy. The turkey was, in fact, a hit. For totally different reasons, this crisp was, too.

The addition of cranberries adds vibrant color and a hint of tartness to this crisp, which along with Pumpkin Pie Cake (and a scoop of vanilla ice cream!) has become a real family favorite. As an added convenience, the crisp can be easily tailored based on personal preference and dietary needs. (The pumpkin pie cake is adaptable, too.)

For the most interesting flavor, I like to use a mix of apples, with tart apples, like Granny Smiths, making up at least half of the total amount. For the balance, I opt for a sweet variety like Honeycrisp. When available, feel free to make use of varieties like Golden Delicious, Ginger Gold, Braeburn, Jonagold, Pink Lady or Northern Spy, all of which are suitable for crisps and pies.

CRANBERRY APPLE CRISP - The perfect balance of sweet and tart adds something special to this easy crisp, which can easily be made dairy- and gluten-free if needed.

 

Conveniently, the topping may be mixed a day or two in advance, providing welcome breathing room when preparing for a big holiday meal or party.

For added ease, fresh or frozen cranberries may be used-and there’s no need to thaw when using frozen.

As mentioned, there are several options within the recipe, including adaptations for those who are dairy- or gluten-free or if you simply prefer to work with what you have on hand.

 

CRANBERRY APPLE CRISP - The perfect balance of sweet and tart adds something special to this easy crisp, which can easily be made dairy- and gluten-free if needed.

Because ice cream adds a nice extra to this dessert and dairy-free brands range wildly in terms of taste and texture, I’ve included some specific dairy-free suggestions in the recipe notes for those who may need them. None of the suggestions are advertisements, just my own opinion as someone who eats dairy but does purchase non-dairy products for some family members. (The person who can’t tolerate cream is always appreciative when there’s a tasty ice cream alternative in my freezer!)

As an added mention, I recently sampled NadaMoo!, a non-dairy ice cream brand with a flavor called Birthday Cake Cookie Dough. Though this specific flavor might not be a stellar match for a cranberry apple crisp, it would be perfect for anyone who has kids (or kids at heart) who are dairy- and/or gluten-free and enjoy the fun cookie and birthday cake flavors that are typically off limits. It was really quite good! (Locally, the brand is sold at Lemon Street Market, Wegmans and Whole Foods.)

CRANBERRY APPLE CRISP - The perfect balance of sweet and tart adds something special to this easy crisp, which can easily be made dairy- and gluten-free if needed.

Other festive holiday desserts you may enjoy

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Pumpkin Pie Cake
Crustless Cranberry Pie
Maple Pumpkin Pie
Aunt Glenna’s Flourless Fudge Pie
Apple Crumb Cake
Honeycrisp Apple Crisp

Cranberry Apple Crisp 
Yield: 8 servings
The perfect balance of sweet and tart adds something special to this easy crisp, which can be made dairy- and gluten-free if needed.
For the fruit base:
  • 5 cups peeled and chopped apples (lightly rounded cups are fine; I like a mix of sweet and tart)
  • 2 level cups fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to thaw if frozen)
  • ¾ cup (144g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot starch)*
  • Zest of 1 orange
For the topping:
  • 1½ cups (135g) old fashioned (rolled) oats
  • ½ cup (64g) all-purpose flour or almond flour (weight of latter varies slightly by brand and grind)*
  • ½ cup (96 grams) packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter, melted**
  • ½ cup chopped raw pecans (may use walnuts or omit if preferred)
  • ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and cinnamon
Optional for serving:
  • Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350℉, and grease or spray an 8×10-inch baking dish. (A 9×12 dish may be used if that’s what you have.)

Add the apples, cranberries, sugar, flour (or starch) and orange zest to a mixing bowl and toss to evenly coat. Spread over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

In a medium to large bowl, mix the topping ingredients until crumbly. Hint: you can do this in the same bowl without cleaning. Prep ahead tip: the topping ingredients, minus the melted butter, may be mixed up to a day or two in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature or in the fridge. (Just don’t forget to add the butter later!) Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apple mixture.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the topping is lightly golden and the fruit is tender and a little bubbly around the edges.

Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. Cool any leftovers completely, and then cover and refrigerate. The crisp will keep for approximately 5 days and can be gently reheated or enjoyed cold or room temperature.

Notes:

*The recipe will be gluten-free if using almond flour and one of the starches in place of the all-purpose flour. Optionally, you may use a cup-for-cup all-purpose flour substitute in both places if preferred.
**For a dairy-free version, I’ve used Earth Balance butter in place of regular butter. I haven’t used coconut oil in this recipe, but it would likely work well for those who enjoy a hint of that flavor. (If trying, I might start with half butter or butter substitute and half coconut oil the first time around.) A dairy-free alternative to the ice cream and whipped cream could be used as well. (Personal non-dairy ice cream favorites include Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss, NadaMoo!, both made from coconut milk, and Oatly ice cream, made from oat milk.)

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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