Recipe and Photos by Charles Hunter III
The wonderful thing about apples is that they’re readily available year-round in the states, and finding a local apple orchard isn’t too difficult based on the region you live in. The smell of apples and warm spices baking in the oven is a comforting experience, in my opinion. Apple desserts come together easily, and they’re perfect for a quick-fix when you need or desire something to satiate that sweet tooth. In the autumn season we wax poetic about our love for the jewels that range from hues of rich reds to vibrant greens and warm yellows. I enjoy collecting the ones with their leaves still attached, because I love the look of them on the kitchen island, piled high in our eggshell wide-mouthed ceramic bowl.
The common apple dishes from my youth ranged from my great grandmother making fresh applesauce to apple hand pies. I miss the apple hand pies the most because she made them with a biscuit-like dough that was dense, yet fluffy, with a lightly crispy exterior. The filling was studded with a generous portion of chopped apples that had been cooked down, so it was creamy with little flecks of apple to provide texture. She’d make apple cobbler with a thick doughy top, and douse it in sugar [heavy sigh]. It was pure, unadulterated perfection with her homemade vanilla ice cream. I can hear the motor churning in the wooden ice cream bucket as I type.
My favorite part of a good crumble is the streusel itself, and I thoroughly enjoy an excessive amount of it. The crunchy topping of buttery oat clusters and toasted nuts is something I could consume weekly, and if there’s ice cream involved—that’s a plus. Not to mention, this recipe is studded with creamy, sweet dates that allow you to cut back on the sugar content. Dates are the perfect sweetener for many desserts, and I enjoy them as a supporting actress in desserts that need a little help in the sugar department when you don’t want it to be overwhelming. The great thing about this recipe is that you can use pears instead of apples, and replace the toasted pecans with toasted walnuts, or whatever your favorite nut may be. This apple and date crumble is sure to be a family favorite for years to come.
Apple & Date Crumble
2 apples, peeled & chopped
5 ounces pitted dates, chopped
3 tablespoons chilled butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 ounce lemon juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Oat & Pecan Topping
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup toasted pecans, rough chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
4 tablespoons chilled butter, unsalted
¼ kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a tart pan with butter.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples, dates, cinnamon, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Toss until the cinnamon has been evenly dispersed amongst the filling. Transfer to your greased tart pan. Be sure to scrape all of the liquid into the pan. Top the filling with the three tablespoons of butter, and set aside.
- In that same mixing bowl, combine all of your oat and pecan crumble ingredients. Use your fingers to massage the ingredients together until the mix holds together when squeezed, while also being slightly crumbly. Evenly spread the crumble across the top of your apple and date filling.
- Place the tart on a sheet pan for some disaster insurance in case it bubbles over the edge. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crumble is golden brown.
- Let cool for 15-20 minutes, and enjoy with a scoop of yogurt or ice cream, a cold glass of milk, or warm mug of coffee.