Apple Crisp with Almond-Pecan Crumble Topping

Apples at market

Apples at market

By Cat, Oct 2014 (Photo, right, from Wikipedia)

I gave most of my Macintosh apples away but saved enough to make a pie or crisp. I want to avoid high-carb ingredients, such as grains, pseudo-grains, and sugar; I’ve used almond meal in pie crusts so thought that would be a good place to start, especially since apples and almond go well together.

Paleo Grubs, a Paleo-Diet site, has a page with links to 6 Paleo Apple Crisps with No Flour or Sugar (1). There I found two different apple crisp recipes using almonds and pecans in the crispy topping: (2, 3). A gluten-free site, Soni’s Food, includes an apple crisp recipe that uses almond meal (no pecans) in the crispy topping (4). I will meld these three recipes with my tried & true apple crisp recipe from Pillsbury’s Dessert Cook Book that uses flour and oatmeal (5).

What apples work best in a crisp?

Any apple good for a pie is good for a crisp. Check out my post: Apples (About), for a handy chart on which apples are best for Snacks, Salads, Pies, Sauces, Baking or Freezing; and Storage Months for 19 different varieties. From the chart, the only apple that is NOT good for pies is Red Delicious. However, to that I would add “Golden Delicious, at least not good for a crisp; I used them in my Jan 27, 2020 testing, and they just turned into apple sauce. All others are ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’

The ”excellent’ apples for crisps (in alphabetical order): Cameo, Cortland, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Idared, Jonathan, Macintosh, Newtown Pippin, Pink Lady, and Rome Beauty. [Note that I’ve deleted Golden Delicious from the “crisps” list, but I’ve left it in the chart for “pies.”]

Apple Crisp with Almond-Pecan Crumble Topping

This recipe is adapted from the following recipes:

  • Pure and Simple Apple Crisp recipe, with almond meal and ground pecans (2)
  • The Functional Foodie Apple Crisp recipe with almond meal and pecan halves (3)
  • Sonis Food Apple Crisp recipe with almond meal (4)
  • Pillsbury’s Dessert Cook Book (5) (uses wheat flour and oatmeal)

and makes enough to fill a 9″ square glass baking pan. Or you can do a smaller recipe for an 8″ glass pie pan (or my 7½” ceramic pie pan), or a 6″x8″ rectangular pyrex pan; ingredients included for these as well. Note that pears or a mix of apples and pears could be used instead of all apples.

Ingredients & Equipment (9″ cake pan size)

  • Apple filling:
  • 6 medium apples, or enough to make 6 cups when peeled and sliced
  • 1 lemon (for juice & zest)
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 – 2 tsp molasses or maple syrup
  • Crumbly Topping
  • ⅛ tsp stevia extract powder (or 2 – 4 Tbsp Rapadura Sugar)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 – 1 ¼ cup almond flour
  • ½ – 1 cup of pecan halves
  • 4 Tbsp  real butter, melted
  • Equipment:
  • small bowl or 1 cup measure
  • medium mixing bowl
  • 9″ square pyrex baking pan

Ingredients for 7.5″ ceramic pie pan or 5″ x 7″ pyrex pan; or 6” x 8” pyrex pan

  • For small crisp: use a 7.5″ round pie pan or 5″x7″ rectangular pyrex baking pan.
  • For larger crisp: use 6″x8″ rectangular baking pan; ingredient amounts in parenthesis.

I’ve not tested the increased amounts, but when I tested the 7.5″ recipe for my 6″x8″, the pan was only half full after baking; some of that loss was due to the Golden Delicious apples’ watery juices were boiled off. I will test these increases, next.

  • Apple filling:
  • 2 – 3 (3 – 4) medium apples, or enough to make 2½ (2¾ – 3) cups when peeled and sliced
  • ½ lemon (for juice & zest)
  • 2 () tsp water
  • ½ – 1 tsp (1 – 1¼ tspmolasses or maple syrup
  • Crumbly Topping
  • 1/16 tsp (scant ⅜ tspstevia extract powder; and/or 1 – 2 Tbsp (2 – 3 TbspRapadura Sugar
  • 1 tsp (rounded 1 tsp) cinnamon
  • ⅛ – ¼ tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • ½ cup (⅔ – ¾ cup) almond flour
  • ¼ – ½ cup (⅓ – ⅔ cup) of pecan halves
  • 2 – 2½ Tbsp (2½ – 3 Tbsp) real butter
  • Equipment:
  • 7.5″ ceramic pie pan/5″x7″ Pyrex pan; or 6″x8″ rectangular Pyrex pan (with lid)
  • 2 small and 1 medium bowls
  • knife
  • nut chopper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash lemon; grate the zest, enough to make ½ tsp (or more); squeeze the juice, enough to make 1 Tbsp. Add water and molasses/maple syrup to the lemon juice in small bowl.
  3. Peel and slice apples about ¼″ thick, then arrange in the baking pan. Sprinkle lemon-water mixture over the apples.
  4. In small bowl or measuring cup, mix the stevia powder with the spices until well mixed.
  5. Measure almond meal into mixing bowl; add the stevia/spice mixture and mix well with fork or whisk. Add pecan halves (or chop coarsely before adding to the mix).
  6. Melt butter and pour over the nut mixture; toss with fork or fingers to make a crumble, then sprinkle the apples in the baking pan.
  7. Cover pan with parchment or waxed paper, then with foil; bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven; test apples for nearing doneness. If not somewhat tender, replace cover and bake 10 – 15 minutes and test again. When apples are beginning to be tender, remove parchment and foil, and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes, checking it every once in a while to be sure it isn’t getting burnt.
  8. Remove when the topping is crispy and let cool a bit before serving.
  9. Serve with heavy cream, as-is or whipped. Or with crème fraiche

Serving suggestions:

Top with berries, if desired; and serve with one of the following:

‘* preferably raw cream or simply pasteurized; I do not recommend ultra-pasteurized cream, especially if you want it whipped, because it doesn’t whip well and is not healthful.

Testing Cat’s Recipe

11/27/14 (Thanksgiving): Half recipe: Used 2 of my Macintosh apples, which just filled my 7½” ceramic pie pan, so I basically halved the rest of the recipe: juice & zest of 1/2 lemon; 2 tsp water, 1 t maple syrup. For topping: 1/16 tsp stevia extract powder (or 1 – 2 Tbsp Rapadura sugar), 1 t cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg; 1/2 cup almond meal and 1/4 cup halved pecans, halved again, 2 Tbsp melted butter. Covered with foil and baked, 350°F, 30 min; removed foil and baked another 30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes to be sure it wasn’t burning. Result: It is very good, especially with whipped cream. The pecans really make the topping wonderful. But it isn’t the same as a crisp made with flour and oatmeal topping. That is, it is delicious in its own right, but don’t expect it to be the same as traditional apple crisp.

Testing 2/20/15: Made half-recipe as before, but this time I used 1 large and 1 small honey crisp that are starting to get wrinkly in my root cellar, and I doubled the amount of pecans, chopped. The large honey crisp filled the 7½” ceramic pie pan, so I added most of the small one to round the top. This made it hard to keep the crumble-topping on top, but I managed. Baked as instructed (30 min covered, 30 min uncovered). Result: I’m glad I used more pecans as they are the star of this dish. The apples shrunk quite a lot; I definitely think the Macintosh are better. But I’m still lovin’ this paleo-treat.

Testing 5/1/15: Made full recipe in 9″ round cake pan using honey crips that had begun to wrinkle, and maple syrup. Baked as instructed (30 min covered, 30 min uncovered), but after it cooled I realized the apples were not tender. Next time I’ll bake at least 45 minutes covered, testing apples for tenderness before removing the cover; updated recipe accordingly. Result: apples not tender, but taste is wonderful, as before.

Testing 1/27/20: in past I’ve used Macintosh and Honey Crisp apples, with the Macs giving the better result. I’ve used up all my Macs and can’t find them in stores, so will try Golden Delicious. Will follow ingredient amounts for my 7.5″ ceramic pie pan, but will use my 6″ x 8″ rectangular pyrex pan (with a lid for storage), and adjust as needed. For apples: 1½ Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored & sliced (2½ cups); ½ tsp grated lemon zest and 1 Tbsp juice (from ½ fresh lemon); 2 tsp water; ½ tsp maple syrup; For topping: 1/16 tsp stevia extract powder; 1 tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp nutmeg; ½ cup almond meal/flour; about ⅜ cup pecan halves, broken up; 2½ Tbsp butter. Baked at 350°F,Into over at 6:30 PM; uncovered at 7 PM – apples are very soft; check at 7:15 PM: starting to dry a bit; but give it another 5 min; out of oven at 7:20 PM; total times: 30 min covered, 20 min uncovered. Result: Apples pretty much turned into applesauce, but otherwise, as delicious as before, especially after chilling overnight in fridge, and when topped with fresh or frozen/thawed blueberries and cream!! Next time, try a different apple. and when using my 6×8 pyrex pan, use more apple and almond meal mix (I’ve updated ingredient amounts for 6×8 pan above, accordingly).

Testing 6/23/20: This time I used the last of my 2019 honey crisp that was still amazingly crisp 9 months after being picked. It is a fairly large apple, so was perfect size for my 5″ x 7″ pyrex pan, filling it ⅔ full. I followed instructions for the smaller size recipe, using ½ tsp maple syrup for the apples, and a tiny pinch of stevia plus 1 tsp Rapadura sugar for the topping. Oops, I forgot to mix the melted butter with the almond meal mixture before scattering over apples, so I poured the melted butter over the top as evenly as possible. Had to go to an appointment, so I let it rest on the counter, covered, while I was gone, before baking. Into preheated 350°F oven at 2:10 PM; lost track of time so didn’t check after 30 min (2:40); realized error at 3 PM; removed cover and baked another 15 min; out at 3:15 PM. Let cool. Result: Apples kept their shape; topping is nicely crunchy and buttery. Served with cream and fresh blueberries. Delicious; not too sweet, just the way I like it. However, most people would like it a bit sweeter, so I would suggest using the higher end of the range for sweeteners in this recipe.

Summary of Source Recipes

Pillsbury’s Dessert Cook Book: (traditional crisp; not grain-free)

  • Apples:
  • 6 medium peeled, sliced cooking apples (6 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • Topping:
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar (replace with ¼ tsp stevia and 1 – 3 tsp molasses)
  • ½ cup unbleached white flour (replace this and oats w almonds, pecans)
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • Method:
  • Place apple slices in 8″ square baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice and water.
  • Combine sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly.
  • Sprinkle over apples.
  • Bake at 375°F for 40 – 45 minutes.
  • Serve warm, plain or with cream, whipped cream or ice cream.

Functional Foodie (gluten-free)

  • Apples:
  • 6-8 medium apples
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • ¼ cup of raw local honey (I’d use ⅛ tsp stevia and 1 – 2 tsp honey or maple syrup)
  • Topping:
  • 1 ¼ cup almond flour
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ cup of pecan halves
  • Method:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Peel, core and slice apples; toss in lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey. Pour mixture into a 9 x 9 glass pan.
  • Melt butter; mix in almond flour and pecans. Use a fork to make crumbles and sprinkle on top of apples.
  • Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes; remove foil and bak another 30 minutes.

Pure & Simple  (Paleo-style)

  • Apples:
  • 7 apples, peeled, cored, sliced into thin pieces
  • ¼ cup orange juice (juice of 2-3 oranges)  I’d use 2 Tbsp lemon juice, and zest of 2 lemons (doubled Pillsbury recipe)
  • 2 tbs. raw honey (melted to liquid) I’d use 1/16 tsp stevia, but combine it with stevia in topping
  • 1 tbs. pure maple syrup I’d use 1 – 2 tsp maple syrup or molasses
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • Topping
  • 1 cup almond flour/meal
  • 2 tbs. finely ground pecans
  • 4 tbs. raw honey (melted to liquid) I’d use 1/16 tsp stevia plus 1 tsp Rapadura
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil or spread (softened) I’d use butter
  • Method
  • In a large bowl, mix together apples, orange juice, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into a pie dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven to sprinkle crumble on top.
  • Mix together almond flour, pecans, honey and coconut oil in a small bowl until well combined. Take small portions of it into your hands and sprinkle chunks of it onto the apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Sonis Food, doubled (Paleo-style):

  • Apples:
  • 6 Granny Smith Apples- peeled,cored and sliced
  • Ground Cinnamon-1 ½ – 2 tbsp
  • Brown Sugar-2 tbsp I’d use 1/16 tsp stevia, but combine with stevia in topping
  • Topping
  • Almond Flour-2 cup
  • Chilled butter (cubed)-4 tbsp
  • Packed Brown Sugar -4 tbsp I’d use 1/16 tsp stevia plus 1 – 2 tsp Rapadura
  • Method
  • Mix the apples,cinnamon and brown sugar and place in individual ramekins.
  • Mix the topping ingredients by hand or in a food processor until crumbly.
  • Cover the apples with the topping and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until the topping is slightly golden.
  • Serve with whipped cream or ice-cream!

References:

  1. Paleo Grubs, 6 Apple Crisps with No Flour or Sugar (paleogrubs.com/apple-crisp-recipes)
  2. Pure and Simple Apple Crisp recipe, with almond meal and ground pecans (pureandsimple.typepad.com/myblog/2013/01/apple-crumb-pie.html)
  3. The Functional Foodie Apple Crisp recipe with almond meal and pecan halves (thefunctionalfoodie.com/2010/09/paleo-apple-crisp.html)
  4.  Sonis Food Apple Crisp recipe with almond meal (sonisfood.com/2013/08/almond-flour-apple-crumble-glutenfree.html)
  5. Pillsbury’s Dessert Cook Book, © 1970 by The Pillsbury Company

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