There will come a time, not too many months from now, when I will be convinced I’d rather voluntarily watch football than eat another apple. (As I write this, the man I married is watching one football game on mute while listening to the play-by-play of a different football game. No jury would convict me, right?) Currently, farmer’s markets are bursting with end-of-summer produce as well as the first Honeycrisps and Macouns of the season. But before long, the tomatoes and eggplants and berries will fade into memory, and the only decent produce around will be the sort of stuff I associate with my shtetl-bound ancestors: potatoes, cabbage, and, yes, pile upon pile of apples, the only fruit around these parts that makes it through the winter intact.
So yeah, I know I’m going to get sick of apples at some point. But my friends, that day is not yet here. In fact, like most white people, I’m currently champing at the bit to transition into full-blast Mr. Autumn Man mode: boots! Leather jackets! Scarves! Crunchy-looking leaves! Half-heartedly Googling to find the nearest corn maze, then deciding that actually going there would be too much of a schlep! Scary movies and Halloween candy and pointedly ignoring football and apples, son!!
Though the weather is not currently cooperating with my autumnal fantasies (it is literally 90 degrees in Brooklyn right now; no jury), I can, at least, pretend that it’s actually, finally fall in my very own kitchen. Enter this apple-honey crisp, which is sorta like Rosh Hashana in a baking dish—though it would also make a perfectly fine offering at a Yom Kippur break fast, since I, er, completely missed my chance to post this on Rosh Hashana proper.
No matter; it’s only been 5778 for a few short days, right? And in any case, this the kind of dessert that doesn’t really need a special occasion—though I imagine it’d taste best on a day as crisp as a Granny Smith, if that day ever arrives.
8 apples (green) [I went with Granny Smiths, because I figured that’s what Nonnie probably used—but really, I think any crisp and tart apple would work here, rather than only the green ones. Next time, I think I’ll give Pink Lady or Honeycrisps a try instead]
1/2 cup chopped nuts [I used walnuts, although I bet pecans would be aces]
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed firmly
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
Peel, core, and slice apples. [You want thin slices; this is a job for a mandoline, not dumb clumsy human hands.] Place apples and nuts in a greased, square, shallow baking dish. Add lemon juice to honey and pour mixture over apples and nuts. [It won’t necessarily be pretty, or easy to get the nuts to integrate perfectly with the apple slices, but don’t sweat that too much; we’re all just doing our best here, okay?]
Mix flour, brown sugar, and salt. Cut the butter in half and crumble mixture with fingers. Spread buttered crumbs evenly over apples. Dot with remaining butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake in 375 oven for 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is crisply browned. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
The Verdict: Ahh, it’s beautiful, isn’t it? Doesn’t the sight of that just make you want to wrap a blanket around yourself and sip cider and, I don’t know, make sweet love to a decorative gourd?
But seriously, folks: this is a good Nonnie recipe, simple (as long as you’ve got a way to get through all that slicing easily) and comforting and, yes, very autumnal. Even better, it works for breakfast as well as dessert, whether you eat it cold from the fridge, warmed up, or mixed into an otherwise pedestrian bowl of oatmeal. Who knows—maybe I’ll make it again once the weather’s actually gotten cold, and it will even have the power to save me from inevitable apple fatigue.