Sunday, November 21, 2010

Apple Caramel Crisp with Homemade Caramel Sauce

Now that Bryant's back on inpatient and having to work part of the weekend, we're back to our tradition - I bring him and his coworkers dinner at the hospital.  If you have to work on the weekend, you might as well have some good food and enjoy it a bit.  And it is a lot of fun - often, the residents' wives/girlfriends will come and hang out and eat (well, for an hour or two until the boys need to get back to work).

This time, I made buffalo chicken calzones (which will be my next entry) and apple caramel crisp (oh, and threw a spinach salad on the side to add a vegetable or two!).  I obviously didn't judge the recipe enough because this apple crisp was just MASSIVE.  Seriously. Perhaps good for a potluck or a Thanksgiving style feast but not exactly what I had in mind for feeding 4 or 5 people.  So we currently have a lot of leftovers.  Luckily, it was absolutely delicious. (I suggested to Bryant we could have it Thursday and he replied, "Well, if it lasts that long.")

The homemade caramel sauce for the crisp was simple, easy to make ahead of time and so, so good.  It's a perfect combination with tart Granny Smith apples.  The buttery oatmeal crust is on the top and bottom; the top layer is crisp and the bottom layer soaks up all the extra caramel and juices.  I allowed myself to lick the bowl, spoon and spatula as a reward for a job well done.

Below, I've actually halved the recipe (which I think could still serve 6 or 8). 

Apple Caramel Crisp
 Taken from: A Hint of Honey
Serves 6-8 (This is half of the original recipe but it would be easy to double  - just cook in a 9 x 13" baking dish)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup for thickening the caramel sauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 small/medium apples (or 2 large), chopped or thinly sliced (tart green ones works best for baking)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
-Make the caramel sauce below.
-Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, oatmeal, baking soda, and pinch of salt. Add the softened butter, and with your hands, incorporate until the mixture is crumbly. Press half of the crumb topping into a 8x8 baking dish (or 9" round pan) and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.
-Meanwhile, bring the caramel sauce and 1/2 cup flour to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
-Toss apples with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon until coated.
-Sprinkle apples and nuts on the baked crust. Pour caramel sauce over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven.
-Let sit for 30 minutes before serving warm with vanilla ice cream. (If you serve it immediately it will be too runny.)
Caramel Sauce
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter (salted is necessary; you can soften unsalted butter and mix in 1/4 tsp salt if you don't have salted on hand)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used fat-free half and half)
-To make the caramel sauce, whisk sugar and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until it melts. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. I also used a spatula to scrap the bottom toward the middle of the pan to make sure all the sugar dissolves.
-Let cool. It can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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