Maple Walnut Apple Crisp

I hope you’re ready for some apple recipes!

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If you make one apple dessert this fall – make this maple walnut apple crisp! Apple crisp has ALWAYS been my favorite apple dessert. Why? Because I love the crunchy, sweet topping. AND because it is easier than pie (haha) – no crust needed!

My Taller Half and I recently went to Smolak Farms to pick apples. The orchard is picturesque and has dozens of apple varieties! I LOVE apple picking. Ever since I was a little piglet, I always looked forward to biting into a crisp, juicy apple just picked from the tree, and then would do this over and over again for until my belly was waaaay too full. This year, I held back a bit and didn’t make myself sick. It was a perfect fall day and we picked TONS of apples. I just couldn’t wait to get home and bake with the freshly picked fruit.

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A beautiful day at Smolak Farms!

Now, let’s talk about this crisp! It has such a thick, crunchy, cinnamon-y topping. Hands down my favorite apple dessert. It also went really fast!

20130925-213732.jpgThe filling of this crisp has tart apples (I used a mixture of Gravenstein, Cortland and Granny Smith), mixed with meaty walnuts, cinnamon and sweet maple syrup! And then there is the topping. OOOh the topping. It is so crispy, so thick, and crunchy (and of course cinnamon-y) and perfectly balances the tender, soft apples. You NEED to make this crisp. Bonus – It takes 5 minutes to put the topping together and only 5 minutes to make the filling. So what are you waiting for?!! Let’s make some maple walnut apple crisp!

20131016-235032.jpgSprinkle cut, peeled apples and chopped walnuts with cinnamon and a few squirts of lemon juice

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Pour the melted sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and butter “sauce” on top

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Prep the topping by mixing flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cut with chilled butter -just smash it up with your hands until it is crumbly, like so:

Crisp topping

Then add the walnuts to the topping and spread the topping over the apples

( look how thick that topping is!!)

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Place in the oven and wait 45 minutes for sweet, cinnamon-y, apple-y, maple-y, oat-y goodness.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

20130925-213824.jpgOne more thing- If you don’t have walnuts, or don’t like walnuts you can substitute any other nut – almonds, pecans,  peanuts, hazelnuts etc… or just leave the nuts out. They add some texture and taste but are not essential to your new favorite apple dessert.

Recipe: Maple Walnut Apple CrispMaple Walnut Apple Crisp

Servings: 6-10 (or 2 if you are me)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 5-6 apples, peeled, cored, chopped chunky (I used Gravenstein, Cortland and Granny Smith – but any firm, baking apple will do – you may have to adjust the sugar if the apples you use are less tart and more sweet)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds, pecans, peanuts etc… or omit)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Few squirts of lemon juice (About 1/2 -1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping (adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds, pecans, peanuts etc… or omit)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss apples and walnuts with cinnamon and lemon juice and pour into a 8×8 baking pan.
  3. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup***  while stirring.  Do this slowly, you don’t want your sugar to burn! When combined, remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour sauce over apples in baking pan and stir to coat apples.
  4. Make the topping: In a large bowl, add all the topping ingredients EXCEPT the butter and walnuts.  Stir until well combined.
  5. Add the butter and use your hands to incorporate the butter and the dry topping.  This involves squeezing the butter and the flour/oat mixture together in your hands – until the mixture becomes crumbly – you don’t need to overwork this – you want the mixture to be lumpy.  Just smash it between your fingers with the oat/flour mixture – it will be uneven and will look like wet sand.  If you don’t like the “hand” technique, you can also use 2 forks, 2 knives, or a pastry cutter (oh so fancy!).
  6. Stir in walnuts and sprinkle the crumbly topping over the apples
  7. Place on top of a baking sheet, to prevent a sticky mess (just in case the apples/sugar bubble over) and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. As always, baking time may vary based on your oventop should be brown and you should see bubbles on the sides of the baking dish. The apples should be tender.
  8. Allow crisp to cool for about 10 minutes before serving – just so you don’t burn your tongue on SUPER hot, bubbly sugar/apple goodness.

Serve warm, with vanilla Ice cream if you please. I didn’t have any.  Shameful.

ENJOY!

*** For easy maple syrup measurement, spray tablespoon with non-stick cooking spray prior to measuring and maple syrup will slide right out.

Happy Fall!

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The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER

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My best friend, Chelsea, defended her doctoral thesis on Friday, and this post is in honor of her. What is her connection with these supposed “Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER”? Chelsea, is not a cookie lover. You know, she’s the type of person who will choose any other type of dessert over a cookie. Well, ladies and gentleman, this changed after she tried these cookies. She’s actually requested me to make these cookies multiple times AND she nagged me for the recipe. I say nagged, mostly because I took forever to give her this recipe. I stink at writing down recipes, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. It forces me to write down my recipes and it makes it easier for me to share them with my friends and beyond!

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These cookies have clearly changed Chelsea’s life (for the better), and I’m confident they will change yours. What makes these cookies the absolute BEST?

These cookies are super chewy and soft, and they are this way consistently. Look at those beauties. They’re nice and fat.

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If you like crispy cookies, sorry, these are not crispy. But I do beg you to try these, because I bet you will like them. No. You will love them. They might even convert you to being a chewy cookie lover. Seriously, if you follow my easy recipe – no substitutions, they will come out perfect every time you make them. These cookies don’t flatten and these cookies don’t run. The dough doesn’t need to be refrigerated before you bake them, but you can if you need to. Normally, cookies are a delicate beast, so to be able to say these are so easy to make and hard to mess up?! Well, we have a gem on our hands.

Another bonus? The peanut butter to chocolate ratio is perfect and they are not too sweet. I’ve worked really hard to perfect this. *disclaimer: your taste for chocolate/peanut butter may vary.

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Do you need anymore reasons? OK Ok, I have another one for you. The dough freezes really well. This means you can have fresh baked cookies in under 10 minutes anytime you want. ANYTIME. I guess this can be a pretty dangerous thing. But, eh. Enjoy life. You can whip up a batch and divide it into smaller portions and wrap 2x in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer.

20130418-075253.jpgThen when you want the Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER, you just take a frozen portion out of the freezer, let it thaw for ~ 1 hour on the counter, or a few hours to a few days in the fridge – and bake up a fresh batch. Simple, easy and amazingly delicious. I guess you could say these cookies are Delicious in a DASH : )

20130418-074844.jpgSo how do you make these chewy, chocolatey, peanut buttery cookies in a DASH?

First, pull out your butter so it can soften at room temperature. You never want to melt your butter, just let it sit at room temperature about 5-10 minutes. While your butter is softening, gather up all the other ingredients and bowls and things. I usually prep my dry ingredients first, because my butter is still softening. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. **When measuring flour, be sure to scoop into the cup, and then level off with a knife. You never want to scoop with the cup. It will pack the flour down into the cup and you will measure too much. For more on how to measure flour, check out the King Arthur Flour website.

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Now tackle the step 1 wet ingredients. I cut the still cold stick of butter into 4-6 pieces, this way, it is easier to mix. **A tip for measuring out the creamy peanut butter – spray the cup with non-stick cooking spray – it will make the peanut butter slide out easier.** I also have always used Skippy creamy peanut butter with these cookies, but any creamy peanut butter will do. I’ve never tried natural peanut butter with these cookies, (I usually save that for sandwiches) so I can’t guarantee their perfection, however, you can try.

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In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter together. If you are using a mixer, do not go above medium speed, it will warm up the butter too much. It should look like the picture below. Make sure the ingredients are very well combined, mix for about 3-4 minutes. You want the sugar to poke holes in your butter so your cookies will have air in them (the baking soda needs some air in there to work with). Now, I should warn you, if you taste this stuff at this phase it will taste like peanut butter frosting. Careful, you need this stuff to make the cookies, but go ahead, taste it. : )

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Next, combine step 2 of the wet ingredients to mixing bowl that contains the well-creamed butter/sugar/peanut butter mixture. ** Tip for measuring honey. Just like the peanut butter, spray the tablespoon with non-stick cooking spray before measuring the honey. The honey will slide right out.** Mix all the ingredients till they are well combined.

20130416-215254.jpgFinally, Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) to the mixing bowl that has the well mixed wet ingredients. I add the dry ingredients in 2 batches – ½ in, stir till combined, then the other ½. Do NOT over mix your cookie batter at this step.

After the flour mixture is incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips. Mmmm

To measure out the cookies, I usually use a tablespoon, this is the size cookie that my baking time is for. You can certainly make them larger. You will need to adjust the baking time. These cookies don’t spread, so you can put them closer together than I have pictured here.

20130418-075239.jpgNow you’re ready to bake. Get ready for peanut buttery, chocolatey deliciousness!

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Mmmm! Warm, creamy peanut butter and melty chocolate.

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Recipe:20130416-215148.jpg

The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 and ½ cups of flour (I use all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Wet Ingredients – step 1

  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter (not natural kind – I like Skippy the best)
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup of white sugar

Wet Ingredients – step 2

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 and ¼ cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and set aside
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients from step 1. Cream the ingredients until smooth
  4. To that same mixing bowl, add step 2 wet ingredients **To measure out the honey, use a non-stick cooking spray (like Pam) to spray the tablespoon. The honey will slide right off the tablespoon and you won’t loose any honey.
  5. Mix all the wet ingredients (step1 and 2) until well incorporated
  6. Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. You may add the mixed dry ingredients in 2 batches to make it easier to incorporate.
  7. Stir the wet and dry until just combined
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips
  9. Drop cookies onto baking sheet using a tablespoon to measure. You can smoosh the cookies with your hands or mold them into balls if you like.
  10. Bake for 7-9 min. 8 minutes is perfect for my oven and the size I bake, but it may vary based on oven and cookie size. ** The cookies will be soft and a will look a little underdone – but will cook a little more as you let them cool on the sheet.  Do not over bake.  The cookies will come out hard and crumbly if you bake them too long. 

Enjoy!

Cooled cookies keep for a week in a sealed container.

Dough freezes well up to 3 months.

You can also refrigerate the dough for up to ~ 3 days before baking.

* I used a mixer because I have one. But you do not need any mixer to make these cookies.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies