Brown Sugar Apple Crisp — Down-Home Comfort

Brown Sugar Apple Crisp

Brown Sugar Apple Crisp

Virginia Willis' Brown Sugar Apple Crisp for FoodNetwork.com

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

In my family, fall means a trip to the mountains for apple picking and apple cider. We love buying a variety of different kinds of apples — some to refrigerate and keep for eating, some to make jelly, and always, always a couple of pounds of cooking apples for apple pie and crisp.

While I adore apple pie, I have to admit that an apple crisp is so simple and easy that it’s my go-to apple dessert. There’s no pastry to make and no dough to roll out, and with a little pep in your prep you can have dessert in under an hour.

Get the Recipe: Brown Sugar Apple Crisp

Crisps, along with their culinary cousins — crumbles, grunts, brown betties and pandowdies — are all simple, old-fashioned, homey desserts. The desserts in this genre use a streusel-like mixture of flour or breadcrumbs, sugar, warm spices and butter, along with rolled oats and nuts. I especially love to use fresh, in-season Georgia pecans in the fall, but almonds and walnuts are great, too.

Crisps are flat-out easy, and everyone loves a piping-hot fruit dessert with a sweet, buttery topping. You can serve the crisp with ice cream, whipped cream, or even creme fraiche for an ultra-indulgent dose of down-home comfort.

Brown Sugar Apple Crisp

Brown Sugar Apple Crisp

Virginia Willis' Brown Sugar Apple Crisp for FoodNetwork.com

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Choosing the apple might be the hardest part! Many factors affect an apple’s juiciness: the age of the apple, the weather and climate where it was grown, and how it has been stored. Make sure to search out the different kinds at the farmers market and keep an eye open for the heirloom varieties. If there’s not a sign, ask the farmer what they are best for in the kitchen. .

In general there are good apples for eating raw, apples that are best for cooking and baking, and apples that are best for sauce. Here’s a short glossary; you can also check out The U.S. Apple Association website for more information.

Fuji: Sweet, creamy-colored Fuji apples are great for snacking, but also break down fairly easily and are good for sauces.

Gala: Gala apples are one of the most popular varieties, as they are sweet and crisp. They are often on the smaller size and great for kids and lunchboxes. Enjoy this apple raw and fresh in salads or for snacking.

Granny Smith: This apple is sharp and tart, and its flavor holds up well in recipes; the flesh is usually firm enough to retain its shape when cooked.

Honeycrisp: With pale yellow flesh, this apple tastes exactly as its name suggests – honeylike and crisp. It’s a great apple for eating fresh, but also can be used for baking and in pies.

McIntosh: McIntosh apples are sweet and juicy with just a tease of sour. This white-fleshed apple is great for for cooking into pies or sauce.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

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Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.

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