I mentioned a couple weeks ago that we had plans to flee this so-called winter we’re having in New York and jet to a place where it’s always summer. It was dreadfully boring, by the way, all silky white sand that was cool under your bare feet, blazing aqua waters that you could walk a full city block into before you were in deeper than your waist and oh so quiet (rumor has it that they don’t even let these on the island!). Blissfully, there was nothing to do but read books, stare at the horizon and not think about life for a while. The most profound conversation we had in three days was whether a spot out on the water where the color slipped from a piercing aquamarine to a deeper cerulean to was due to a change of depth, or just the cast shadow of a cloud. The shadow of a cloud. Man, times were tough.
What I forgot to mention is that we weren’t bringing our son with us. Lest you think I’m immune to Mom Guilt — au contraire, it is the very pitch to which my life is auto-tuned, the backbone, nay, doctrine of my existence, governing all decisions from “Is that my son picking up a stray cheddar bunny from the seat of a random stroller and do I really have to stop him?” to whether or not I should admit that I was late to call yesterday because I was, in actuality, reading with my eyes shut for the 9th time that afternoon. Ahem, so, Mom Guilt in full swing, I decided to leave something special — petite apple crisps — in the fridge that he could have as a treat on the days I’d be away.
Alas, the longer I am a mom, the harder it is for me to not question everything. Why all that butter? I bet he’d like it just as much with a healthful oil! Why all that refined sugar and flour? I know it could be endlessly delicious without it. I haven’t yet reached the Hiding Spinach in the Brownies level of madness and with all due respect, I hope I never do as spinach and brownies are too wonderful apart to mash them into something greater than neither of their parts, and lie to a child at the same time, oh look at that, I’ve digressed again. So, yes, stopping short of what I call the spinach-in-the-brownies line in the (powdery Caribbean) sand, I made him some tiny multigrain apple crisps.
There’s brown sugar, and a little bit of butter. Cinnamon and a solid crumb-to-fruit (by solid, I mean “high”) ratio. But there are also oats a-plenty and oat flour, whole wheat flour and almond meal. And it’s good enough that we’ve already stolen
one two, I mean, made a second batch. You might want to make a habit out of them, too.
One year ago: Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers and The Best Baked Spinach
Two years ago: Arroz Con Leche and Baked Rigatoni with Tiny Meatballs
Three years ago: Steak Sandwiches and Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chips Cookies
Four years ago: Big Crumb Coffee Cake, Alex’s Chicken and Mushroom Marsala and Almond Biscotti
Five years ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Loaf and Italian Bread
Multigrain Apple Crisps
As for the whole wheat flour, you could also use whole wheat pastry flour here or white whole wheat flour (as I did in one of my test rounds). You can also replace half the flour with the same amount of any pet flour you have. Yes, I said “pet” flour — I mean, whatever you’re currently obsessed with. I used 1/4 cup of barley flour in one batch, which is my current pet, as it’s silky and delightful in baked goods. I don’t think rye flour would be half-bad there either.
It’s not just the flour that you can fiddle with; coconut oil (also good for this toddler-bait) would be delicious in place of the olive oil; you could brown the butter when you melt it for extra flavor. Almonds could be replaced with any nut, etc. Have fun with it. Make it yours.
Makes 8 small crisps
4 large or 5 small-medium apples (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup raw or Turbinado (often sold as Sugar in the Raw) sugar
1/4 cup plus 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or a mix; see Note up top)
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Two pinches sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange eight 6-ounce ramekins (these are my favorite) on a baking tray. Peel, halve and core apples, then chop them into a small (about 1/2-inch) dice. The smaller the pieces, the faster the crisps will bake and the less they’ll “deflate” as they cool. Toss apples with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 3 tablespoons raw sugar until evenly coated, then divide apples between ramekins.
Grind 1/4 cup oats with almonds in a food processor until powdery. (If you have both almond meal and oat flour, you can replace this with 1/4 cup of each.) In a medium bowl, mix oat/almond mixture with remaining rolled oats, wheat flour, remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, sea salt and baking powder. Melt butter in a small saucepan (or in microwave), then stir in olive oil. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir until crumbly. Divide crumbs over each dish of apples, packing them on with your palms if needed to get them all on (don’t worry, the apples will deflate a bit when they bake).
Bake apple crisps for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until you can see the juices from the apples bubbling around the crumbs. If tops brown too quickly, put a sheet of foil over the whole tray for remaining baking time. Let cool on rack and serve when lukewarm. Store remaining crisps in fridge. They are quite excellent with a dollop of plain yogurt.