I started playing with apple crisp recipes before I ever started the blog. It was actually the first dessert recipe I ever tried to adapt (and one of the successes that gave me the confidence to start blogging in the first place!). So, this one has seen a year’s worth of iterations to reach this awesome and delicious version.
One thing you’ve probably figured out by now is that I take some pride in creating the best Paleo adaptations of Western foods. Recipes like my chewy granola bars, perfect Paleo pancakes, plantain crackers, graham crackers, perfect pumpkin pie, and chocolate chip “oatmeal” cookies represent some of my favorites. Here’s another one to add to the list. The crumble topping is a perfect combination of flavors, and it has some crunch and substance that highlights the flavor and texture of the apples. This is another Paleo dessert to share with your non-Paleo friends and relatives—they won’t have a clue!
Picking a good apple is key. The best cooking apples for this recipe are Fuji, mustu (aka Crispin) and Rome beauty. Unlike a traditional apple pie, Granny smith apples, which are also good cooking apples, are just too tart on their own. If you really want to use them, I suggest adding 1-2 Tbsp of organic cane sugar to them.
I also think this is one time where chopping nuts by hand works better than using a food processor. The mix of different size pieces works especially well in the crisp. If you want to save time, you could process half the nuts and then hand chop the rest (that’s actually what I do).
This recipe also highlights one of my favorite natural sweeteners. What is muscovado sugar? It is a type of unrefined brown sugar with a strong molasses flavor, predominantly made in the Philippines and Barbados. It also goes by the names of “Barbados sugar”, “molasses sugar” or “moist sugar”. It retains its high mineral content because it is unrefined (I discuss why mineral content is so important in this post). I have seen it in my local Whole Foods and it’s also available from amazon (for about half the price). If you prefer, you could substitute sucanat/evaporated cane juice.
We actually enjoyed this apple crisp as a side dish with pork chops (it’s only one step removed from applesauce, after all!). It’s also amazing served as a dessert plain or with my Best Ever Paleo Vanilla Ice Cream.
Prep Time: 90 minutes (including 60 minutes to chill topping)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 6 generous servings
Ingredients (Crisp Topping):
- ¼ cup almond meal (or substitute almond flour)
- ¼ cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts (measure after chopping)
- ¾ cup chopped pecans (measure after chopping)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
- 3 Tbsp muscovado sugar (the molasses flavor and sticky texture works especially well, but sucanat/evaporated cane juice would work too)
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp allspice
- Pinch salt
- Chop walnuts and pecans by hand for the best texture. Mix with almond meal, shredded coconut, muscovado sugar, and spices.
- Pour melted coconut oil over the top and stir to fully combine. Pat down slightly and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (1 hour is better), to harden.
Ingredients (Apple Crisp):
- 6 medium to large apples (about 2½ pounds)
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- Crisp Topping (see above)
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Peel and core apples. Cut into large bite size pieces (I cut into quarters and then slice each quarter into 5 or 6 ½”-thick slices).
- Toss apple with lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon and cardamom.
- Place apple in the bottom of a casserole dish, 8” or 9” square pan, or a 9” deep dish pie dish.
- Remove crisp topping from fridge. Use a knife or your fingers to break/crumble into pieces, making sure there are some bigger pieces and some smaller pieces. Cover the surface of the apples with the crisp topping crumbs.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Then, turn the oven temperature up to 425F for 5 minutes to brown the crisp a little more (watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn).
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm!