This Flavor-Enhanced Fall Classic Will Tickle Your Tongue
Here in the US, we’re now a week into autumn. And I’ve been noticing some seasonal changes. The weather is starting to turn cool. Apples (many locally grown) are piling up in neighborhood produce departments. And the abundant harvest is fueling an urge to make (and eat!) baked goods.
Mrs Kitchen Riffs has been spending lots of time in the kitchen lately — flour dotting the tip of her nose — baking up one scrumptious treat after another. This week, she’s making good use of all the apples we’ve been buying. And why not? They’re fresh, tasty, and nutritious. And there are so many things you can make with them. Like this Walnut Apple Crisp, a jazzier version of the traditional dish we all know and love.
It makes a great dessert, one you’ll want to serve to company. And the leftovers (as if you’ll have any) would be terrific for a weekend breakfast.
Recipe: Walnut Apple Crisp
A crisp (called a crumble in the UK and Australia) is similar to cobbler (like this great Easy Peach Cobbler). But while a cobbler is topped with biscuit dough, a crisp is covered in streusel — a crumbly mixture of butter, flour, and sugar (sometimes with other ingredients added). For apple crisp, uncooked oats are a common addition (see Notes). Today we’re using walnuts, which add terrific flavor and interesting texture to the dish.
This recipe makes a particularly rich and tasty crisp — the walnuts are joined by a hearty dose of cinnamon and a dollop of (optional) rum. Today’s dish is loosely based on a cinnamon-heavy recipe that appeared in the March 1993 issue of Bon Appétit (you can find that recipe online at Epicurious). The walnut idea came from Christopher Kimball, who suggests it in The Dessert Bible.
This dish serves 8 to 10. Preparation time is about 20 minutes. Baking adds another 40 minutes or so. Plus it’s best if you let the crisp stand for at least 15 minutes before cutting (to let it firm up). So figure on a good hour and a half from the time you start making this until you fork the first mouthful.
For the apple base:
- 1 tablespoon butter (for buttering the baking dish; unsalted is best)
- 3½ pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled or not, cored, and sliced (you can substitute almost any apple, including the ubiquitous Granny Smith; see Notes about whether peeling is necessary)
- ¼ cup dark rum (optional)
- ¾ cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces (see Notes)
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup brown sugar (packed)
- ~ 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- ice cream, whipped cream, or sour cream garnish (optional)
(I separated the ingredients between the apple base and the streusel topping to make it clear which ingredient was used for what; I haven’t bothered to separate the steps in the Procedure because I think they’re pretty clear.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish, preferably glass (one of those Pyrex casserole dishes is perfect).
- Wash, core, and slice the apples. If you have one of those apple slicers, this is a good time to use it. (Peeling the apples is optional; see Notes.) Place sliced apples in a large bowl and add rum. Toss apples in rum until well coated, then set aside.
- In separate bowl, combine ¾ cup brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Whisk to mix thoroughly. Pour sugar and cinnamon mixture over apples and toss to coat.
- Spread the apple mixture in the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining sugar/cinnamon/rum mixture over the apples, and smooth the top.
- Cut the chilled stick of butter into small pieces. (I cut the butter stick in half lengthwise, then in half again, forming quarters. Then I cut across the width, maybe 6 or 8 times, resulting in pieces the size of smallish dice.)
- Add the butter to a medium-sized bowl, along with the flour and ½ cup brown sugar. Combine with a fork, pastry blender, or your hands until you form a coarse meal (i.e., streusel). Spread this mixture evenly over the apples in the baking pan.
- Chop the walnuts, then spread them evenly over the top of the streusel.
- Place the crisp in the oven and bake until the apples are tender (test with a fork or the tip of a paring knife) and their juices are bubbling — about 40 minutes.
- Let the crisp stand for at least 15 minutes before serving (this helps it firm up). Garnish, or not, with ice cream, whipped cream, sour cream — whatever you choose.
- It’s traditional to peel apples for this dish, but I usually don’t. I like the taste and texture of the peels, and the “rustic” look they give to the dish.
- Any kind of apple that retains its shape and texture when baked works well in this dish. Golden Delicious can be found everywhere, and they’re pretty good.
- When you’re cutting up the apples, you may want to begin by removing the stems (along with a bit of apple flesh) to form a nice little wedge: Using your paring knife, insert at a 45-degree angle about ½ inch from the stem, then turn the apple so the knife cuts out a circular wedge. You can save the stems in something acidic so they don’t brown (I use lemon juice). Then when you serve the Walnut Apple Crisp, you can put these on top as a garnish (the third picture – directly above the Notes section – illustrates this).
- If your apples are particularly tart, you may want to increase the quantity of brown sugar.
- Rum is optional in this recipe, but it adds a delectable note. I recommend using a dark rum, like Gosling’s Dark Seal or Meyer’s.
- If you don’t have dark rum, bourbon works.
- Note that when you bake the crisp, the alcohol bakes out — leaving only deliciousness behind.
- A traditional streusel topping contains nothing more than butter, flour, and sugar — plus maybe a bit of spice. It’s tasty, but doesn’t have enough structure to hold its shape on top of apples as they soften during baking.
- So apple crisp recipes often add oats to the streusel in a bid for texture. Unfortunately, oats are flavor-challenged — not to mention tough. So I don’t recommend them.
- Chopped nuts make a much better streusel extender, IMO. They’re tasty, they’re attractive, and they don’t dissolve in the oven.
- Walnuts pair perfectly with apples, but pecans would probably taste great too.
- Although the aforementioned Easy Peach Cobbler was developed by me, most of the desserts you see on this blog are made by Mrs K R. This Walnut Apple Crisp is hers.
I came downstairs from my office and walked into the kitchen. I found Mrs K R peering intently into the liquor cupboard. It was 10 AM.
“I need a little something,” she muttered. “It’s just so boring!”
“Uh, look, hold on,” I said. “Don’t you think it’s a little early? Even for, you know, us?”
“What do you mean?” she asked, pulling down a hefty bottle of rum. “This is just what I need!”
“Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“What? You think I should do bourbon, like last time?”
“Last time? How long has this been going on?”
“Well, for years — as you know. I make apple crisp every fall.”
“Oh, uh . . . .”
“What did you think?”
“Apple crisp . . . sounds, uh, great!”
“I’ve been using variations on the same old recipe for so long, I just wanted to punch it up a bit this time. Dark rum would be perfect, don’t you think?”
“Perfect, yes. Well — OK by me!”
“Rum thing, huh?” Mrs K R giggled.
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You two are hilarious!! I love it. And there's nothing like a good streusel topping. I rarely peel my apples either. It's so much easier and I like the texture.
Eheheh Indeed! :P
It's walnut season around here now, this sounds perfect. :)
Delish! I can't wait to try this yummy recipe.
Hi Kristy, Mrs K R and I do have fun. ;-) Glad to hear there's someone else out there who likes unpeeled apples! The texture they add is great. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Alex, ;-) Walnuts and apples are such a great combo. Nothing better than fresh walnuts, either. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Family Foodie, delish it is! Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for your comment.
That looks like the perfect sunday afternoon dessert! ITs already late night so next sunday will have to do, I know that my husband is going to love it with the dark rum in it and the walnuts! thanks a bunch for sharing your crisp recipe. =)
Week into autumn and churning of such delicious desserts? Nice one :)
Choc Chip Uru
Insanely delicious! Will make this soon. Thanks for sharing.
That's a beautiful looking dessert. While your nights are cooling down, ours are warming up (hooray!) And we've eaten dinner outside a couple of times now. Love your apple recipe xx
Oh man that looks awesome! Although I don't think the rum should be optional lol ;)
A lot of people don't buy golden delicious apples thinking they are the same of the red delicious...so wrong. Great choice for your tasty crisp. I'm going to have to go out in the orchard and pick a few.
You two crack me up. I so want to be invited for dinner some time. Especially if this is dessert.
Hi Helene, the dark rum + walnut combo really is worth doing. A great idea on the part of Mrs K R. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for your comment.
Hi CCU, something about the cooler weather just makes one crave things like this. ;-) Plus, who doesn't like dessert? Thanks for your comment.
Hi Asmita, it's really good stuff! I hope you'll enjoy it. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Hotly Spiced, not that the weather isn't so awfully hot, we're eating outside a bit, too. Although often one does want a sweater. Soon, though, we'll be indoors for the winter, while you'll be outside all the time! Thanks for your comment.
Hi everydaymaven, well I thought about not calling it optional, but I do know some people won't use it, and although the crisp won't be quite as good without, it'll still be awfully tasty. But no, it's not optional in our house. ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Hi Karen, I was one of those people for a long time, too! Red Delicious? Meh. Golden Delicious? Entirely different flavor (and other than the name, it has nothing to do with the Red Delicious apple). Gosh, I'll bet this crisp is even better if made with apples picked just a few minutes earlier! How I envy you! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Kim, you're welcome anytime! And we'll be happy to serve crisp. Although Mrs K R does make some awesome chocolate things . . . ;-) Thanks for your comment.
I love these easy fall desserts. Something else to do with all those apples I have!
Dark rum is not optional in our house, if the recipe calls for it, we go for it :)
I loved your dialogue...too funny! And apple crisp is one of my favorite autumn desserts...I need to add a slosh of rum next time...sounds (and looks) wonderful!
Hi Ilke, easy really works for me! Apples make such nice desserts - so much you can do with them. The dark rum is a great addition! Genius on Mrs K R's part. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lizzy, those dialogues are loads of fun to right - and disturbingly accurate! Do add the rum, it adds a nice, understated touch - but one you'll notice and enjoy. Thanks for your comment.
Oh John, you are so man (no offence, please)! I was reading your dialogue with Mrs. KR and heard my husband just about a month ago when I needed some liquor to my cookies. :) Great recipe, we love walnuts and rum too, but we would skip the cinnamon though... I don't get apples and cinnamon, apples have such a great flavor and aroma, why to kill it with cinnamon?! Mrs. KR did a fantastic job with the apple crisp! I am sure it was intoxicating! :)
I definitely would be adding the dark rum to this! This crisp does look delicious and screams "Fall"! Even though I love walnuts, Bobby's not a fan, but we both love pecans, so pecans it is in the topping. Have a great week John and Mrs. KR.
Well, you two sure are on the ball. What better way to not only welcome Fall but the month of October and National Apple Month!!!
And who doesn't need a "laced" crisp every now and again:)
Thanks for sharing, Kitchen...
Fall is definitely apple time. And even though I will miss my summer berries and peaches, I am all ready to dig a fork into a crumble like this one.
Hi Marina, how could I possibly take offense? ;-) Maybe it's an acquired taste - kinda like the curry spices in Indian food - but cinnamon and apples is a lovely combo, IMO. I wouldn't want it in a galette, where it's all about the apples (I wouldn't want rum in that, either). But in a crisp, this one in particular, there are multiple textural and flavor layers going on, and I think cinnamon adds a truly nice note. And yes, the crisp was intoxicating (really, really, really GOOD stuff!). Thanks for your comment.
Hi MJ, the dark rum was a revelation - it really added quite a bit of flavor. I'd definitely add pecans if I were you - actually, we were undecided about whether pecans or walnuts would be better (we have both on hand) and decided to go with walnuts because they're such a classic with apples. But pecans would be great, too. Thanks for wishing Mrs K R and me and great week (same to you!) and thanks for your comment.
Hi Louise, ;-) We really didn't plan this! It's just seasonal - this is the time of year for apples. Great line re the "laced" crisp! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Carolyn, it's hard to give up berries and peaches (peaches in particular; there are always "OK" berries in the market, but not peaches), but seasonal apples are so great. This is a really nice recipe - worth making, no? ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Thanks Mrs (sorry John)KR for this most delicious apple walnut crumble, took me straight back to my mothers kitchen (Grandpa had an apple orchard and a huge walnut tree behind our house). And you are right, rum goes well with walnuts and just a 'messerspitze' of cinnamon for the apples. And MR KR - loved your banter with your wife - keeps me smiling.
It's finally getting warm on this side of the equator... but I think we've got just enough cool left for me to try these! They look wonderful.
I think I'm in love with the Mrs. :) I could live on this apple crisp.
I've been on a cobbler kick lately but it's time I convert to crisps. Yours here, John, looks perfect! Apples, walnuts, cinnamon. Delish! And your timing couldn't be better. The farmers markets are loaded with apples now -- and I love it.
Oh gosh--I'm totally using your recipe as an excuse the next time I get caught--er, well, don't get caught--in the kitchen with a bottle of rum in my hand. I can't wait to try this; I've been looking for excuses to dump some bottles into my baking at every turn. It's just been that kind of a year... (only kidding! but great recipe, thanks for sharing once again, kitchenriffs!)
Indeed that is a great dessert so great it wont reach my breakfast the next day
This is one of my favorite types of dessert. Give me warm apples and I'm happy as a lark, Yum!
I've never thought of mixing rum in an apple dessert but that sounds delish!
I swear your photos are so vivid that I can almost smell that beautiful apple crisp. Love the rustic look. It's definitely prettier and healthier with the skins left on, and I'm betting it tastes better, too. We're having a crisp St. Louis morning, so I think that makes this an apple crisp day!
Good, John! Sometimes, when I leave a comment I wander if a person would understand the tone (always friendly!) because the last thing I want to do is to hurt my dear friend-blogger's feelings.
You are absolutely right, people have different tastes, and it happens that we don't really understand cinnamon. Even my husband, who is as far from culinary world as one could be, when smells cinnamon in a meal says: "there must be something wrong with this dish if they have to "cover" it with the cinnamon". :) So when I make something and a recipe calls for cinnamon, I just skip it. There are two very popular things our family has not acquired taste for yet on this land: cinnamon and peanut butter... :) If you have any advise how to start with cinnamon, please, do share...
Have a great week! We are heading to Kansas City tomorrow: husband -for a conference, me - hope to see some history and try their famous BBQ. :)
Hi anyone4curry, isn't this a nice combo of flavors? Alas, our crisp is all gone now. ;-) Glad you enjoy the banter, and thanks for commenting.
Hi Amanda, nice thing about apples is you can but pretty decent quality most of the year, although here in the US peak flavor is right now. But we've been known to enjoy this treat when apples were out of season, and it's still really good. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Maureen, I know I am! ;-) Yeah, I could eat nothing but this crisp - not good for one's weight, though! Thanks for your comment.
Hi ChicagoJohn, it's really hard to beat a good cobbler, but when it comes to apples, at least, I think this crisp takes top billing. It's really good stuff. Thanks for your comment.
Hi wallflourgirl, we actually do a lot of baking with booze. Part of it's because it tastes so good, and no doubt part of it is because we've experimented with so many cocktails, we have a pretty extensive collection from which to draw. So it's easy to play with it in the kitchen. Glad you enjoyed this, and thanks for your comment.
Hi Raymund, yeah, that line about breakfast was a fantasy on my part! ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Hi Café Sucré Farine, isn't this a nice dessert? Excellent when warm, still pretty good when cold. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Julie, oh you should try rum (dark rum) sometime with apples - great combo. And when you add walnuts, magic. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Monica, one of the nice things about living in St. Louis is we do have very definite seasons here. I say today you should go for this crisp! Or another of your choosing. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Marina, I really woke up to how great cinnamon could be when I tasted it in Moroccan food. Not just sweets, but they use it all the time in savory things. That was a new use to me, and opened my eyes. Try making a beef pot pie with a bit of cinnamon sometime - it's a revelation. And anyone who reads you for more than a minute knows that your tone is always friendly!
I am sorry I have missed so many of your posts but it's been hard to get any length of time on the computer since we've been in Italy. I will check them all when I get back home. I love the sound of the addition of rum and walnuts to this dish. We also call it crumble in NZ. I must admit I would usually peel the apples but that is just habit. Most of the goodness is in the skins and just under.
Hi Suzanne, you've been busy getting ready for vacation, and now are on vacation - don't even think about visiting bloggers to comment! Although, of course, I'm always pleased to see you. The downside with not peeling the apples is the peels do add a bit of chew - the peeled apples make the dish much more tender. But I think they improve the flavor, and I like the texture they add. Thanks for taking time to comment while on vacation in scenic Italy!
This looks absolutely delicious!!! One of my favorite desserts, and perfect for fall. Thanks for a great recipe Mrs. Kitchen Riffs!!
Hi John! Lol! I love your conversation with Mrs. K R! I love streusel topping of crumbles/crisp (I didn't know crisp for American English and crumbles for UK/Aus! Thanks for the little education!). I have to make this soon. We have lots of apples to consume and easy baking like this is my kind of baking. :)
Hi Katherine, isn't this a nice recipe? You can do so much with apple crisp, and Mrs K R has definitely done a great job here. ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Hi Nami, I'm glad you enjoy the conversations - they're a lot of fun to do. Both Mrs K R and I giggle over them! This is definitely something you want to make this fall, when apples are at their peak - such a nice dessert. Thanks for your comment.
Thanks John, I will try cinnamon in savory dishes, that's a good idea! :)
Apple crisp is one of my fall favorite desserts. This one looks delicious.
Hi Words of Deliciousness, isn't it a great dessert? I highly recommend this version - it was delish! Thanks for your comment.
OMG, that crisp looks ever so wicked! What a gorgeous treat. I'm drooling all over my keyboard...
I can remake it!! but where I live there are the best halzenut in the world, so I can use it!! apple and cinnamon together are one of my fav flavour!! love it!!
Hi Rosa, it is indeed wicked! ;-) Really good stuff - trully drool-worthy. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Valentina, hazelnuts would be an interesting choice - I'd definitely try it with them. And isn't the apple/cinnamon combo great? Thanks for your comment.
Rum in the pastry - how fantastic. I also leave the skin on my apples.
I LOVE walnuts. Walnuts in an apple crisp is the best idea I've heard all week! (And I like to leave the peel on the apple, but only because I'm far too lazy to take it off!)
There definitely would NOT be any leftovers if I made this in my house!! yummmmmm!!!
Hi Lizzie, the rum really adds a nice flavor to this - understated, but definitely there. Really worth trying. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Jen, the walnuts really worked well in this. And leaving the peels on is the only way to go! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Kristi, this really is one of those dishes where the leftovers are scarce. ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Very very tempting! Love the combo of nuts and apples, so this is something I would love to do. Thank you for sharing! :)
food for the gods
Well, now I want some apple crisp for breakfast. The dark rum sounds great in it!
Hi realitaliandish, it is indeed both simple and delish! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sarah, the walnuts really add a touch touch to this dish - worthy trying, IMO. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Lisa, it makes a great breakfast! Ask me how I know. ;-) And the dark rum is really tasty. Thanks for the comment.
I adore apple crisp and this time of year it's so comforting. I don't think I've ever had it with walnuts. Your version looks spectacular.
Hi Vicki, isn't this a great dish for the fall? We always make it. The walnuts are really good - worth a try, IMO. Thanks for your comment.
You and the Mrs. make me giggle. Dang it, I should have rummage through the alcohol to add to my tart. Although I think I like the walnut addition even more. Bring on the fall baking, it's makes the house smell like the place to be.
Hi Gina, happy we're entertaining you! The walnuts really are good, although the rum is quite nice too. Isn't fall baking wonderful? Thanks for your comment.
I'm so glad I ran across this today - we just bought a bushel of apples over this past weekend & not peeling them would certainly make this much faster to get together!
Hi Donalyn, lucky you! We haven't bought a bushel yet this season, but no doubt will. Not peeling really makes this a pretty easy dessert to make. Some people don't like the slightly chewy texture of cooked apple peel - obviously I'm not one of them - but that's the only downside I can think of to not peeling them. And for me, the chewiness is a plus! Thanks for your comment.
I totally agree, it will be perfect for a breakfast, a lazy one in a bad with some good movie on a screen :)
Hi Marta, yup, this has lazy breakfast written all over it! Thanks for your comment.
I adore apple crisp, and I'm intrigued by your suggestion of using walnuts. And rum - what a great punch! Really, is there anything that says fall better than apple crisp?
Since my kids won't eat cooked fruit, I love the addition of rum in your crisp - and maybe a bit more in a glass on the side!
Hi Beth, isn't apple crisp great for fall? The walnuts are sensational. I think the rum is too, although that's not everyone's cup of tea. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Laura, more crisp for you! The idea of rum on the side is great! Thanks for your comment.
Wonderful recipe - I have lots of apples to use up in my kitchen at the moment. Good timing :D
Hi Christine, I'm always happy to be timely! ;-) Thanks for the kind words and the comment.
Autumn is a great time for baking. That crisp (crumble :) ) looks delicious, and I think the walnuts in it would be great! I was never a fan of walnuts but have found lately that they are a great addition to a lot of dishes!
It's already Spring here but I still love apple recipes like this. Walnuts and apples are the perfect match. :D
Hi Ali, walnuts and apple are a magical combo - worth trying. And apples make the best crumble (crisp;)) going! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Jenny, we're experiencing the first really chilly weather of fall! (So of course I made chili last night.) Don't apples and walnuts play so nicely together? One of my fav dessert combos (well, after anything with chocolate, of course!). Thanks for your comment.
I'm not a big sweet eater, but this time of year when the apples are so crisp and amazing, I adore a homemade apple crisp!
Hi Mother Rimmy, Apple Crisp is one of my favorite apple desserts. Pie is always great (who can say no to pie?), but the apple flavor shines through much more in crisp. Thanks for your comment.
You both are adorable! Rum....bourbon....or MAYBE amaretto, why not? Apple crisp makes me think about my Grandma, she makes the best apple crisp in the world....because it is made with Grandma's love! I love your addition of walnuts, people don't bake with them enough. I think they are sooooo delicious. Looks sooooooo good, Take care, Terra
Hi Terra, amaretto sounds like a great idea! Let us know how it turns out. ;-) Walnuts are great in baked things, particularly if those baked things contain apples. Thanks for the comment.
Kudos to Mrs. Riff and her delectable recipes! I love this apple crisp with the topper of the apple stem and the cream! This is a scrumptious anytime treat!!
Hi Judy, that Mrs K R really knows her stuff. ;-) It's a great dessert, one I always look forward to having. Thanks for the comment.
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