Thanks to our early ancestors and dedicated heritage apple saviors, we can enjoy the subtle flavors, textures and aromas of dozens of varieties of America’s favorite fruit: apples. Bright red apples made into delicate pink sauce, cinnamon flecked apples in pies or crisps, tart apples for snacks, and freshly pressed apples in tangy cider.
There are hundreds of varieties, but four major categories. Firm-tart apples like Granny Smith, Rhode Island Greening and Northern Spy and firm-sweet apples like Golden Delicious and Pink Lady are best for baking. Tender-tart apples like McIntosh, Cortland and Macoun break down easily during cooking, and make a superb sauce. Tender-sweet apples, like Gala and Fuji are delicious in salads and eaten out of hand.
Apple picking is a favorite family activity, and the good times are easily continued in the kitchen. Learning to peel and core an apple is an invaluable skill, appropriate for kindergarten –age and older folks. Knife knowledge is the foundation of becoming a chef, and often the difference between loving or hating to cook.
Candy Apple Crisp is the perfect family recipe with lots of opportunities for hands-on peeling and slicing. Sampling of apples is strongly encouraged.
The topping can be easily whipped up in a food processor, even made in advance. The combination of rolled oats and flour, sweetened with a touch of sugar, liberally spiced and combined with butter cooks up, well, just like candy.
Try preparing this crisp with different varieties of apples, and compare the tastes. I first made it with Milton apples, a variety developed by crossing a Macintosh apple with a yellow transparent.
This recipe scales up easily for potlucks and food service. For our daughter’s Emily’s wedding, we made two large pans, one with Macouns, an apple with parents of Macintosh and Jersey Black. The second apple we sampled were Empires, a Macintosh and Red Delicious cross. No matter the apple variety, everyone agreed that this crisp tastes just like candy!