1011_rhv_bites_apple raspberry crisp.jpg

While everyone wants apples and pumpkins this time of year, you may be surprised to hear that it’s also the ideal time for raspberries. By the time you read this, that may no longer be the case, yet it was only just last week that I picked seven beautiful pints of red raspberries at a local orchard.

Berries are generally considered a summer fruit. But, depending on the type, raspberry plants are either summer or fall bearing. The summer crop is short-lived and heavy. The fall crop, on the other hand, kicks off in the first cool days of the season and continues until the first frost. It’s slower and typically longer. Although that first frost will likely come any time now, it’s worth checking with local farms and orchards to see what’s still available. The length of their availability varies from year to year, of course.

Raspberries freeze well, after a quick rinse to remove any possible bugs. Dry them off with a clean kitchen towel, then spread the berries onto baking trays and place in the freezer until frozen. Later, take the berries off the trays and transfer to freezer bags. Doing so will prevent the berries from sticking together in a solid mass that’s impossible to manage.

Or, skip freezing and find ways to use raspberries now. I don’t often think of it, but raspberries pair nicely with apples. The berries can offer sweetness and depth of flavor when partnered with tart or mellow apples. Throw some raspberries into an apple pie or pot of applesauce and see how you like the combination. Luckily, after I picked my raspberries, I also picked a bushel of apples.

With the span of dreary, damp weather we’ve had lately, I can’t think of anything more welcoming than a pan of warm apple and raspberry crisp. I made this for my girlfriend’s birthday over the weekend, and everyone was excited for it. Not only does she love raspberries and apples, she despises cake. It was the right choice for helping her accept that it is truly fall, as she likes to cling onto summer as long as she can.

Apple crisp is a common dessert, especially here in New England, but it should hold up whether made for a quick weeknight dessert or for a birthday celebration. There’s no excuse for a boring and bland crisp, which I often see in cafeterias or restaurants.

In my opinion, a good crisp should include oats, nuts, brown sugar and a balance of spices. And the apples should still have some texture left to them after baking. I’m just not sure that’s something you can find when ordering out. I think apple crisp is best made at home, and enjoyed fresh and crunchy out of the oven. Once it spends time in the fridge, a crisp is no longer crisp. Though any leftovers make for a good breakfast the next day.

The raspberries complement the apples nicely in the crisp, cooking down to add a layer of depth rather than distraction from the apples. Blackberries would also work well here. I love that this recipe, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook, uses just one large pan to cook, bake and serve.

If you’re not serving a crowd and don’t want any leftovers, you can cut the recipe in half and use a smaller pan.

Apple raspberry crisp

servings: 6 – 8

Topping:

¾ cup flour

¾ cup walnuts, chopped

¾ cup oats

½ cup brown sugar

1/8 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

1 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

3 pounds of crunchy apples, peeled, cored and sliced into ½-inch pieces

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1 cup raspberries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all of the topping ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to form a crumbly mixture. Set aside.

In a large, 12-inch skillet with deep sides, such as a cast-iron skillet, add the apple cider and simmer until reduced in half. Remove the cider from the pan, add the lemon juice, and set aside. In the now empty pan, melt the butter and add the apples, sugar and spices. Cook over medium heat until almost tender, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Turn off the heat and add the apple cider and raspberries.

Crumble the topping over the pan. Place the skillet on a baking sheet if you think there’s a chance it may bubble over. Then place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbly. Serve warm.

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