For as long as I can recall, apple crumble (also known as apple brown betty and apple crisp) has been one of my favorite desserts. For years as a child (when I still followed cookbook recipes) I would make the New York Times Cookbook's apple brown betty recipe. That cookbook is still kicking around in my childhood home, hanging together by a few threads and some duck tape. That book opened me to up the world of baking and pastry. I learned to make everything from pie crust to meringue, amazingly with no illustrations or images (which is almost unheard of today)! It is a classic book I recommend to anyone.
I created this unusually delicious crumble recipe as part of my involvement with the Recipe Redux challenge. Each month, member bloggers are challenged with a theme. They are asked to create new recipes that are in line with that theme that also happen to be nutritious and healthier than the average dessert. This month the challenge involved cooking or baking with unusual spices found in your spice cabinet. You know, the spices you have but don't necessarily use...So for me, the obvious spice to choose to feature was cardamom.
I love East Indian food, and East Indians love to cook and bake with cardamom. This incredibly healthy and fragrant spice can be quite overpowering if used in excess but quite subtle and delightful if used in moderation in the company of other warming spices like ginger and cinnamon. If you are unfamiliar with cardamom on its own, you may have tried it in Chai tea, another personal favorite.
In addition to currently living in a multi-cultural city in Canada where Indian food is wholeheartedly embraced, I also lived abroad in the UK for some time where Indian cuisine is adored. There are many East Indian bakeries and restaurants in London where delicate aromas of cardamom and cinnamon waft through the surrounding streets all day long. I once followed the smell of freshly baked cardamon-laced Indian sweets for two blocks until I discovered one of London's most popular Indian bakeries.
I love Chai spice combinations and I really love the versatility of cardamom which is used in both sweet and savory recipes in Indian cuisine. I have for a long time had a large amount of cardamom in my spice cupboard just waiting to be used. I RARELY use it at all because, well, it scares me a little! I have RUINED many dishes by adding far too much of it without other spices to balance it out properly. I have also created many dishes with it to brilliant success but it nevertheless remains in the back of my mind when it comes to baking. This is actually the first sweet recipe besides homemade chai tea that I have added cardamom to! I'm very glad I gave it a go though as this is a very unique and delicious apple crumble recipe.
If you plan on making this recipe, I encourage you to make it exactly if possible. Ginger and cinnamon are essential to the balance of flavors of this crumble so don't leave them out! Without them the cardamom is way too strong. If you would rather use a traditional crumble topping of your own creation, the recipe will still taste delightful and unusually spiced for apple crumble so go ahead and play with it. I personally enjoy this cookie-like topping as the sweet crunchy chewiness of the topping balances the soft sweetness of the apples underneath perfectly.
I hope you give this crumble a go! It's a refreshing take on a classic.
Cardamom Apple Cookie Crumble
- 3-4 average sized apples, ripe if possible (I used gala and ambrosia apples)
- 1.5 tbsp unsweetened apple butter
- 0.5 tsp cardamom powder
- 0.5 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp virgin coconut oil
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 0.25 cup water
- liquid stevia, to taste
- pinch pink salt
Heat the coconut oil in a medium sized pot or pan over medium high heat. Once melted, add the apple mixture and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed by the fruit. Add the maple syrup and the water and bring to a simmer, letting most but not all of the liquid absorb. Add the salt and stir. Taste you apples. Add stevia if you want them sweeter, stirring to incorporate it well. Once satisfied by the sweetness of the apples. transfer them to a small ovenproof baking dish. Preheat oven to 350F and set the dish aside.
- 5-7 pitted medjool dates
- 0.25 cups buckwheat flour
- 0.75-1 cup gluten free oats
- 1 tsp or 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- a few dashes liquid stevia
- 1 heaping tbsp unsweetened apple sauce (optional)
- tiny pinch pink salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Add the buckwheat flour, apple sauce, salt, cinnamon, coconut oil and dates to a food processor. Pulse to mix them into a rough paste. Add the oats and vanilla and a few drops liquid stevia (not too much and pulse to make a rough crunchy dough. Using your hands, grab little balls of the dough and arrange over top of the apples in their baking dish. Arrange the dough evenly in blobs over the apples to cover them. Place the baking dish in the hot oven and bake until the topping is crisp but not overcooked (burnt). Allow to cool slightly. Enjoy by itself or a la mode (with vanilla ice cream on top).