Friday, March 18, 2016

Mulled Wine Apple Crisps

Its funny - as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, I've been finding myself craving warmer, spicier and more "comfort food" type dishes rather than the lighter, "brighter" fare so associated with Summer. I've always enjoyed a good, crisp salad as the basis of my lunch, but come dinner, I want the slow-cooked beans, rices, curries and soups. Dessert is no different - I've reverted to enjoying a bowl of chocolatey porridge and a warm cashew-milk mocha more than something like sorbet or my homemade tofu ice cream.

I've been missing my mom's apple desserts lately too - her Harvest Apple Squares have long since fallen off the menu (mostly due to their high sugar content, which my diabetic stepdad can't cope with), and since the family in general doesn't groove on casseroles of bottomless crisps, only the occasional pie makes it out of the freezer for our enjoyment. I used to think crisps were rather "blah" myself - preferring the hearty, buttery oat crust on the squares - but once scaling the dish into individual portions I've changed my tune. When baked in single-serving jars, not only does the combination of fruit and crumble look gorgeous, but you get more crispy bits overall - instant win! The only thing I had to tweak from my mom's "chop and drop" method of crisp making was pre-cooking the fruit slightly - and what better step could I use to really infuse some flavour?

Before I even got to the cooking step, I was faced with a small dilemma. I had bought 7 apples in preparation for making these jars of awesome, but somehow they got mixed in with "communal eating" apples in the fridge. By the time baking day arrived, my stash was down to 4 - not critical mass, but I needed something to bulk up the batch. Luckily, I had one of the most "apple" like vegetables I could think of sitting in the crisper - chayote squash. They are perfectky crisp, slightly sweet and hold their shape similarly to apples, and I knew that once they cooked together with the spices and an oaty topping nobody would be the wiser. Thinking of overall flavouring, I was mostly inspired by a small bottle of mulled apple cider left over from a weekend brunch, plus a bottle of Doppio Passo Botter Primitivo Salento IGT that I had received as a gift a while back and had never opened (I don't drink). Why not make a mulled wine and simmer the fruit in that? It would not only add a gorgeous flavour, but tint everything as well. I decided to give it a shot!

Mulled Red Wine Apple Crisps

The wine, spices and a touch of sweetener smelled like all sorts of comfort and joy as it heated, which only intensified as the fruit began to cook. I wanted this filling to really be the star of the crisp after that, so instead of the usual butter/flour/oat topping, I opted for a neutral oil, two forms of oats, nutty kinako and just a touch of Truvia Brown Sugar Blend instead. Nobody noticed the difference, but everyone commented on the complexity of the filling underneath, which makes me think about trying the method again but turning the works into applesauce!


Mulled Wine Apple Crisps
Makes 6
4 large apples (I used a mix of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious), peeled and chopped
2 large chayote squash, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp agave nectar
1 cup red wine
½ cup orange juice (I used blood orange juice)
1 (2”) cinnamon stick
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup kinako
½ cup instant oatmeal (pulse rolled oats in a food processor until mealy)
½ cup gluten free large flake rolled oats
3 tbsp Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup canola oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease 6 (1 cup) jars.
  2. Place apples, chayotes, sugar, agave, wine, juice, cinnamon stick and cloves in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until apples and squash are tender.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer apple and squash mixture to prepared jars.
  5. Bring wine mixture to the boil over medium-high heat and cook, uncovered, until reduced by half.
  6. Stir in vanilla, then strain over apple mixture in each jar.
  7. Whisk together the kinako, oatmeal, Truvia, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl. Drizzle in the oil and toss to combine.
  8. Spoon crumble mixture over apple mixture in the jars, packing lightly.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crumble is golden brown.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 338.7
Total Fat: 10.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 35.3 mg
Total Carbs: 57.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.1 g
Protein: 6.9 g