Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vanilla Bean Apple Crisp

Well before we moved to Tucson, I'd bought two hefty packages of vanilla beans. They're well-wrapped, so they should be okay for a good while, but I wanted to continue using them up. This recipe for vanilla bean apple crisp comes from Epicurious, and I made it a couple of weeks ago. Fabulous flavors going on -- buttery topping to cut through, not too much vanilla flavor but what's there is pronounced, and the apples (and I throw in a chunked pear just to use up what's around). This is not like a nonbaker's apple pie, although if you don't bake this is a great recipe to add to your nonbaking repertoire. It's easy to throw together, and the ingredients are usually on hand. If vanilla beans aren't available, try substituting a teaspoon or so of extract, the real stuff, not the fake. As I only had limes in the house, that's what I used instead of the lemon juice called for in the recipe. I adjusted the baking times upward to get nicely browned edges on the apples before adding the crisp topping. Also, I finished the whole thing with five minutes on convection bake to get a nice evenly browned crust. The first time I made this, we had one caramel-chocolate Drumstick in the freezer, and that broken over the apple crisp was incredible. Tonight, we'll have to settle for plain ol' French vanilla, but it will still be memorable.

Vanilla Bean Apple Crisp
Bon App├ętit March 2002

Makes 8 servings.

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (save pod for vanilla sugar)
2 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced 1/2-inch thick
(I used Fuji and a peeled pear)
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I only had lime juice on hand)
Pinch of ground nutmeg (Ooops! Forgot it this time, but first time used freshly grated)
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place sugar in large bowl. Using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into sugar. Rub mixture with fingertips to distribute seeds. Add next 4 ingredients; toss well. Transfer to 8-inch square glass baking dish. Place dish on prepared baking sheet. Bake until apples are tender and beginning to turn golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven; stir apples.
Blend flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs over apples, spreading evenly. Bake crisp until topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool crisp 10 minutes.

Here are the apples and pear as they went into the oven for the intial browning for 40 minutes or so.

Just before processing the crisp topping ingredients. I waited to do this until the apples came out of the oven so that the butter in the flour would stay cold.

The finished apple crisp, bubbling hot straight out of the oven. Yummmm! Just imagine vanilla ice cream melting over the edges of a bowlful of this.

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