Pommes Croustillantes. Crunchy Apples. This recipe has been vexing me for the last month. Really driving me crazy. It’s been sitting in my recipe file at work for years. My students make it all the time and it never disappoints. It’s so easy. Anyone can make it (high schools students included). Except that, for the past month or so, I couldn’t.
I first decided to make it for book club, but I had to get cheeky, making the ill-fated decision to substitute pears (what was I thinking??). It was ok, but the pears were a problem. They turned a weird shade of copper-y pink and were quite bland. Lesson learned (no more unripe pears!), though Barb graciously pointed out that the fruit part is really just the vessel for the delicious crumble. But they weren’t anywhere near as good as the other German-inspired recipes we sampled that day, like Barb’s rouladen and Wendy’s sauerkraut and kielbasa. Not to mention Norma’s contribution of German Potato Salad. Among all this German deliciousness, my crumble was sadly not worth mentioning.
So be it, but I was determined to start over, following the recipe exactly, for our up north dinner. I lugged the ingredients to A’s cottage to try again. Determined though I was, laziness and fullness set in and the crumble didn’t get made until I got home. At which point I messed it up again (!) by severely decreasing the butter, in an attempt, of course, to exercise some restraint after a pasta-filled weekend. Mauvaise idée.
Which leads me to Deb’s Pear Cranberry Crumble: maybe crumbled ginger cookies were the answer (what was the question?). I decided to give it another go, this time for my Halloween party. Except that it didn’t happen, and I won’t bore you any further with my failed attempts (this is getting old) to present the perfect apple crisp.
I bring you instead to a pretty darn good one. This was a crisp to be proud of, and it’s quite likely that the best part of it were the crunchy ginger cookies on top. I finally, finally, made it on Halloween and took it to Barb’s where I hosted a dinner without Barb (!). Barb may not have been there, but her delicious gumbo was. I heated that while Maeve and Penny handed out candy and Scott carved pumpkins. The crisp was our dessert and was topped, slightly inelegantly, with a scoop of dulce de leche frozen yogurt. Success was mine at last!
Halloween was certainly, above all, memorable this year; from the gumbo to the crisp to Penny’s Scottish accented requests for “tricks” before “treats” (as Maeve repeatedly explained, we just get right to treats here in the US, no songs or poems required). Évidemment, it was a lot more fun than staying home!
And those ginger cookies, they are excellent crumbled on oatmeal or with afternoon tea. In fact, I suspect they will be a regular resident of this girl’s grocery cart.
Adapted from La Cuisine de Veronique (a website I can no longer find) and inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s latest crumble.
3-4 apples (I used honeycrisp), peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
2 ripe red pears, peeled (etc., see above)
1/2 cup flour (cutting back on the flour made for a crispier crust)
1 cup brown sugar + 1 tablespoon
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
5-6 ginger cookies (I used Jules Destrooper Belgian ones)
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in microwave while you prepare the apples and pears. Place peeled and diced apples and pears in a smallish baking dish (coated with cooking spray). Sprinkle with one tablespoon brown sugar.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and egg in a bowl with a fork until combined but still kind of crumbly and quite lumpy. Sprinkle with cinnamon and pour the melted butter over topping. Crumble 5-6 (or more to your delight!) ginger cookies and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the fruits are tender.
Serve with a scoop of ice cream of your choice. And, Barb claims leftovers make a delicious breakfast. I believe her.