A Laid-Back Take on the Classic Dessert
It's an odd thing, but a fresh-baked dessert can make even the most hurried, slapped-together meal feel homey and comforting. The trick to pulling off this feat, when you're already time-stressed and trying to get dinner on the table, is to start dessert ahead of time in your Crock-Pot. A perfect example is this Crock-Pot apple crisp, which requires just a few minutes of prep and then hours of peaceful, hands-off simmering in the slow cooker.
Total Time: Up to 3 hours, 15 minutes | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6
- 3 to 4 pounds of apples (approximately 6 to 9 apples depending on size)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, tightly packed, divided
- 2 tablespoons flour, or 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, cardamom or ginger (optional)
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- Peel and core the apples. If you're using firm baking apples such as Granny Smith, slice them into 1/4-inch slices. With less-dense apples such as Jonathon or Braeburn, chop them coarsely into chunks. Toss the sliced apples with the lemon juice, to inhibit browning.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the brown sugar with the flour or cornstarch, half of the cinnamon, and other spices if you're using them. Mix with your fingers until the flour and spices are distributed evenly through the sugar, then add the apples; toss until they're evenly coated.
- Place a Crock-Pot liner bag into a 6-quart slow cooker's insert, or butter the insert generously. Pour the apples into it, spreading them evenly.
- In the same mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, and toss them until the butter is thoroughly incorporated. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples.
- Cover the top of the Crock-Pot with a clean kitchen towel or three to four layers of paper towels, then place the lid on top. Cook on your Crock-Pot's high setting for about 90 minutes, or on its low setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, whichever fits best with your day's schedule.
- Turn the Crock-Pot to its "keep warm" setting once it's finished cooking, and keep it warm until mealtime. Serve the apple crisp warm, with or without vanilla ice cream.
- The towels absorb condensation from the lid, so it doesn't drip onto the crumb topping and make it soggy. Crock-Pots operate at a low temperature, so this is not ordinarily a fire risk, but if you use an off-brand slow cooker and you know it tends to run hot, you should check the towels after an hour to make sure they aren't scorching at the sides.
- The quantity of sugar you use with the apples is flexible. If your apples are tart you might add a little more, while sweet apples might need less. For very sweet apples, you can also add another tablespoon of lemon juice to provide acidity.
- If your Crock-Pot has a timer, you can make up the crisp in the morning and have it start a few hours before dinner. If it doesn't, you can buy an inexpensive plug-in timer, and use that to control your slow cooker instead.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.