Chris Kimball's 3 awesome apple desserts

Celebrate fall's delicious apples with desserts that will make your mouth water and your home smell like heaven. America's Test Kitchen chef shares foolproof recipes for baked apples, reduced-fat apple crisp and French apple cake.

Reduced-fat apple crisp
Servings:

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • For topping

    • 2/3 cup (2 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1/3 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
    • 5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup (11/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • For filling

    • 6 large Golden Delicious apples (8 ounces each), peeled, cored, and halved
    • 1 cup apple juice
    • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preparation

Baking Directions:

For the toppingProcess 1/3 cup oats in food processor until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Combine processed oats, remaining 1/3 cup oats, Grape-Nuts, sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl; set aside. For the fillingAdjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 3 apples into 1-inch pieces and slice remaining 3 apples into ¼-inch-thick wedges. Bring apple pieces, apple juice, sugar, and cinnamon to simmer in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl and mash apples using potato masher. Reserve 1 tablespoon mashed apple mixture. Return remaining mashed apple mixture to skillet with apple wedges and cook, covered, until wedges just begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice. Scrape apple filling into 8-inch square baking dish and press into even layer. Add reserved mashed apple to topping mixture, stirring until mixture appears crumbly. Sprinkle topping over filling and bake until juices are bubbling and topping is deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Serve. The numbersAll nutritional information is for a 1-cup serving of apple crisp.Traditional apple crispCALORIES 540FAT 23 g SATURATED FAT 11 gCook's Country reduced-fat apple crispCALORIES 300FAT 6 g  SATURATED FAT 4 gSECRET INGREDIENT Grape-NutsAre we off our nut? Figuratively, no. Literally, yes. We love the flavor and crunch that nuts add to apple crisp but not the fat and calories. For guilt-free crunch, we used Grape-Nuts cereal in place of walnuts or pecans.

Tips:

Instant or quick oats turn the topping sandy; use old-fashioned oats. Note that the apple pieces and apple wedges are cooked differently.

Best baked apples
Servings:

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

    • 7 large (about 6 ounces each) Granny Smith apples (see note)
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
    • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
    • 3 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 orange
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • Pinch table salt
    • 1/3 cup maple syrup
    • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core, and cut 1 apple into 1/4-inch dice. Combine 5 tablespoons of -butter, brown sugar, cranberries, pecans, oats, orange zest, cinnamon, diced apple, and salt in large bowl; set aside. 2. Shave thin slice off bottom (blossom end) of remaining 6 apples to allow them to sit flat. Cut top 1/2 inch off stem end of apples and reserve. Peel apples and use melon baller or small measuring spoon to remove 1½-inch diameter core, being careful not to cut through bottom of apple. 3. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in 12-inch nonstick ovensafe skillet over medium heat. Once foaming subsides, add apples, stem-side down, and cook until cut surface is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip apples, reduce heat to low, and spoon filling inside, mounding excess filling over cavities; top with reserved apple caps. Add maple syrup and 1/3 cup cider to skillet. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until skewer inserted into apples meets little resistance, 35 to 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with maple syrup mixture in skillet. 4. Transfer apples to serving platter. Stir up to 2 tablespoons remaining cider into sauce in skillet to adjust consistency. Pour sauce over apples and serve.

Tips:

If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, transfer the browned apples to a 13- by 9-inch baking dish and bake as directed. The recipe calls for 7 apples; 6 are left whole and 1 is diced and added to the filling. Serve the apples with vanilla ice cream, if desired. For our free recipe for Best Baked Apples with Dried Apricots and Almonds, go to www.cooksillustrated.com/feb10.

French apple cake
Servings:

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

    • 11/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
    • 1 tablespoon Calvados
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • 1 cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons -all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon -granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Confectioners' sugar

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Place prepared pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apple slices with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.3. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over cake.5. Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 1¼ hours. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.

Tips:

The microwaved apples should be pliable but not completely soft when cooked. To test for doneness, take one apple slice and try to bend it. If it snaps in half, it's too firm; microwave it for an additional 30 seconds and test again. If Calvados is unavailable, 1 tablespoon of apple brandy or white rum can be substituted.

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