Apple Squash Crisp

I developed this recipe a few years ago for a “Two Hours to the Thanksgiving Table” workshop.  In the back of mind I pictured myself with my friends, fresh out of college and living the life in San Francisco, at our time share in Tahoe coming together after a full day of outdoor activities and putting a wonderful feast on the table.  What did we care that it was 11pm?

Designed for small groups on limited budgets cooking out of small spaces that may not be well outfitted (have you ever tried to get a proper roasting pan into a standard apartment oven?) nor have fridge space for leftovers, the workshops have featured turkey breasts, stuffed turkey roulade, cornish hens and double duty sides.  Appetizers and desserts, while homemade, were often dishes that required almost no cooking and could be assembled with little effort.  These were the ideal assignment for those guests who didn’t cook or had no access to a cooking space (ah, yes, those out-of-town guests can contribute…).

This dessert requires a bit more cooking and also gets you really close to upside down pie for those who crave the homemade tradition, yet doesn’t have the confidence, ambition or baking friend.  The crisp topping gets really chunky and crispy.  This is my go-to topping for all fruit crisps.  It freezes like a dream and I think would taste great straight from the freezer.  I wouldn’t know, but I just have a hunch.  The filling was a “split the difference” attempt that really shines.  Both the pumpkin and apple dessert folks are satisfied and neither fruit dominates the other.  The distinction in texture, flavor and temperature create a fabulous synergy that make you crave the next bite.  Take the liberty to make this your own with spices, herbs and flavor profiles you like.  Fresh, grated ginger would be a no-brainer addition.  I deliberately kept this mainstream with a little cinnamon and nothing more.  Let me know what you try in the Leave a Reply section below.  Unlike many fruit crisps, the squash and apples are precooked on the stove top before a trip in the oven to bake the topping.  This is the time to bring out your stove-to-oven-to-table casserole dishes, or grandma’s cast iron skillet.  One pan, about 3 steps, and you will be a very happy, happy and unstressed cook/host/guest this holiday season.

Filed in: Fruit, Pies and Tarts, Sweets


Apple Squash Crisp

Serves 8

Topping:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup salted almonds, roughly chopped (for a splurge I use Marcona almonds)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Filling:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (Kabocha or another starchy squash)

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup light brown sugar

1 vanilla bean, split

pinch flaky salt

Accompaniment:

vanilla ice cream or cinnamon whipped cream

  1. Get ready. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Make the topping. Toss all the ingredients, except butter, together. Drizzle 12 tablespoons butter and mix just until the streusel comes together. Spread onto the baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes. Crumble the streusel with your fingers. Set aside. (Make ahead note: Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and freezer for up to 1 month.)
  3. Make the filling. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add butter to melt. Add squash and apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 8 – 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add sugar and vanilla bean, cover and cook until apples and squash are soft but still holding their shape, about 15 additional minutes. Discard vanilla bean.
  4. Put it together. Scatter the crumble evenly over the surface of the fruit. Sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt.
  5. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until the filling bubbles at the sides and the topping is crisp and brown. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Serve. Place a generous scoop of crisp into warm bowl and top with ice cream or whipped cream.