During my growing up years, my grandparents had a fabulous apple tree--one of those antique varieties that you really can't find anymore. My parents house also has an apple tree, but for whatever reason, had some trouble with it during it's early years.
Sadly, my grandparent's tree was blown over in a horrific wind storm one summer when I was in middle school, so no more of those delicious apples. However, my parent's tree has more than compensated! Their tree produces mamouth amounts of apples. I'm really serious! Early in the season before the apples are even close to full development, they have to unload apples, just to keep the branches from breaking!
My mom has always made apple crisps, but one special occasion she makes it for is the anniversary of my dad's engineering company. The company was started in the early 90s and it was a big step for my young family. Every October, she would celebrate the company's anniversary by making a batch of apple crisp for everyone in my dad's office. Well, the company has grown tremendously and now has locations in other cities as well. But my mom still makes apple crisp! People have come to expect and anticipate it each October and the number of batches has increased quite a bit. She now uses one of my favorite tools to aid in preparation: the apple peeler/corer/slicer combo.
My sisters and I have helped serve the apple crisp as many years as our schedules would allow. It was really odd for me to not be there to help with it this year, although I know there were other years I wasn't able to go either..... So, make my own apple crisp and serve it to myself , I must! I don't have a peeler/corer/slicer combo, so I made mine by peeling and slicing the apples myself. I used granny smith apples, because I had them left over from another project, but really you can use whatever apple you like. I like my apples to get soft but not mushy, so granny smith are good ones for me. I do wish I'd had some apples from my parents tree.....
I have a confession to make: I really don't use a recipe when making apple crisp..... I just cut up apples, add some sugar and spices (cinnamon and nutmeg are great) and then a little flour for a thickener (just enough to coat the apples). I used two apples this time, because I was not making a large batch.
I put the apple mixture in two small ramekins and then a small casserole dish. The ramekins are just perfect for a small dessert. And especially with apple crisp, which can look somewhat unappealing when it's scooped out of a larger dish, having individual desserts really does aid in presentation.
Then the apple mixture is topped with a streusel topping. Seriously, I can just eat unbaked streusel with spoon. So tasty. But, I will say that it is even better baked! I make my streusel, again without a recipe (this is so out of my normal character), by mixing oatmeal with flour and brown sugar and then adding cinnamon and nutmeg and enough melted butter to moisten it. I actually had leftover streusel in my fridge from making apple pie with a friend. So that went to good use.
Another one of my favorite kitchen tools would absolutely have to include my Kitchen Aid Toaster Oven, which I used to bake this small batch of apple crisp. I really love my toaster oven, but I admit I was initially skeptical about toaster ovens in general. Two years ago, when I was in college the first time, my roommate in my first apartment said one thing we had to have in our kitchen was a toaster oven. I didn't really see a point to having one, because I thought a regular toaster was just fine, but then I realized the wonder that is that toaster oven..... so great for making toast, but also is fabulous when you're cooking for low numbers (like 1 or 2) and do not want to waste the energy of heating your entire large oven. I would like to do more experimenting with baking in a toaster oven, but haven't had time yet. But I digress...
The whole thing baked in under 20 minutes, with the toaster oven set on 350, and wow did my apartment smell tasty during the baking. Actually, I did get them a tish too dark on top, but the beauty of apple crisp is that one can pick the top layer off and no one knows the difference! Actually one of my favorite parts of apple crisp is picking pieces off the top when it comes right out of the oven.
Apple Crisp really is best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (preferably vanilla bean). But I didn't have that, so we enjoyed more of the apple flavor instead. A liked his so much that he ate his small ramekin portion and then proceeded to eat most of the small casserole dish too! It is one of those desserts you don't feel quite so guilty eating because of all the fruit. And really, you can use very little sugar as well.
Yum, yum, yum! I just might have to make more this weekend..... Thank you Mom for making such wonderful apple crisps and inspiring me to make them too :)