There are few things we fight about in my house. During the holidays these fights are intensified and far more frequent. The quarrels are not the typical ones that might come to mind with regards to family. They are not about which one of us will put the groceries away, take out the garbage, set the table, or who will wash the dishes. No, they’re about more important topics than boring household chores. We have our priorities straight. They concern the vital things in life. Our tiffs center around who got a bigger slice of pie. Which one of us will get the last corner piece of a lasagna, or the end pieces of a meatloaf. Anything with a crust, edge, topping, crunch, filling or whipped cream is up for grabs and definitely up for debate.
Thanksgiving arrives and brings with it plenty of excuses for us to battle. With crust on pies, the two legs on a turkey, the crispy cornered edges of the stuffing and the streusel topping on the apple crisp, the Thanksgiving table is a battleground. We fight to the death, so to speak, for our favorite parts of each dish. All rules and formalities are thrown out the window. No one follows etiquettes such as “first come first serve.” It is survival of the fastest or in our case, eat or have it be eaten. We each have our own favorite treat we will fight extra hard for. Apple crisp happens to be mine.
Apples are a seasonal fruit. Now I know what you must be thinking, “Aren’t all fruit seasonal fruit Jonathan?” Yes they are, but I meant it as they are a fruit that ties you to a season. One that reminds you of brisk air, leaves turning colors, shorter days, and holiday celebrations. Sure apples are available in your local grocery store all year-round, but they are best during autumn, when the trees are so overgrown with this delicious fruit, that they just pour down from the sky like rain. I often find myself buying apples in bushels and not for any reason in particular. I’ll buy them and place them in the fridge hoping to find inspiration as to what to make with them. When apple pies just will not suffice anymore, I turn to other apple alternatives. More elaborate creations.
Apple crisp is a standard holiday tradition in my family. Without question and without fail it is always present in any holiday festivity. I think a truly good dessert is one that plays with different textures and flavors and this dessert definitely has that going for itself. The crunchiness from the streusel topping balances perfectly with the warm and soft apple filling. There are desserts out there that are made during specific times of the year. Not only because of tradition but also because of seasonal availability of certain ingredients. When autumn finally shows its face I begin to make all the fall desserts I have waited to bake all year long. Cranberries, pumpkins, maple, pears, cinnamon, and apples are star flavors during the chilly autumnal months. Apple crisp is definitely one of those desserts. One that no autumn is complete without. A flavor profile that brings me back to my childhood.
Although the tradition of apple crisp has remained the same in my house, the recipe itself has changed throughout the years. As we have all grown older and as our tastes have changed, so has this recipe. Gone are the days when we would fight over who got the most crunchy streusel topping. I’ve discovered that making the crisps in individual portions, such as in shot glasses, is not only perfect for holiday parties but it is great because everyone gets the right amount of apple filling to crunchy topping ratio. This means everyone is happy, especially me. And of course since we are all adults now, a little alcohol is a must. The prospect of apple crisp in shot glasses without alcohol is a sad thought, and one that I cannot imagine.
What is better than a warm right-out-of-the-oven apple crisp topped with fresh whipped cream? A rum spiked apple crisp topped with fresh rum whipped cream, that’s what. Baking it in shot glasses enhances the entire appeal of this boozed dessert.
Apple Crisp Shooters
Yield: 12 shooters
Glassware: 12 shot glasses
2 pounds apples (about 4-6 medium sized), granny smith and gala
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ounce (15 ml)rum
2 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
Lemon peel, for garnish
For the Topping
4 ounces all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces oatmeal
2 ounces slivered almonds (optional), chopped
2 ounces cold unsalted butter, diced
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Peel, cut and chop the apples. You can use an apple corer/slicer to make it easier. Then just chop the apple slices into chunks.
3. Combine the apples with the orange zest, juice, rum, sugar, and spices. Mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
4. Pour the apple mixture into the shot glasses.
5. To make the topping, in a small bowl, combine the flour, sugars, spices, salt, oatmeal, almonds, and cold butter.
6. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles course crumbs the size of peas.
7. Top each of the apple-filled shot glasses, with a liberal amount of the topping, pressing down to pack it in.
8. Place the glasses on a baking sheet that has been line with parchment paper, to catch any drips.
9. Bake the shooters for about 20-25 minutes until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
10. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Allow the shooters to cool before handling. Avoid extreme temperature changes as the glasses might shatter.
11. Serve warm.
Rum Whipped Cream
Yield: 8 ounces
8 ounces cold heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon dark rum
1. Whisk the cold cream in a large bowl.
2. Once the cream begins to thicken, add the sugar, cinnamon, and rum.
3. Continue to whisk until the cream forms stiff peaks.
4. Serve cold.
Jonathan Melendez is a contributor a The Boys Club and blogger at The Candid Appetite.