Since you're cooking the fruit separately from the topping, they don't have to be ready at the same time. That frees you up for using berries in spring, stone fruit in summer, pears or figs in fall, or even citrus in winter. Just remove the skillet from heat when the fruit is as soft and juicy as you like. Because you control the cooking of each component, there's always the perfect balance of juicy and crunchy. It's an ideal vehicle for ice cream.
Technique tip: Stovetop cooking in two skillets — one for the apples, one for the topping — cuts the traditional prep and baking time in half. Easy enough to keep an eye on their progress while you prepare the main meal. Why fuss over peeling and slicing the apples? They're more flavorful and have better texture if you leave the skin on and simply chop them into chunks
Swap option: Ideas for adding to or swapping in the topping (add more butter if the mixture ever starts to look dry): unsweetened coconut, different nuts (pistachios or cashews are good ones), bread or cracker crumbs; or at the end stir in raisins (or other dried fruit) or chocolate chunks.
Put 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat.2.
Core and chop the apples, leaving the skin on.3.
Add the apples to the butter and cook, stirring frequently and adding water 1 tablespoon at a time if the pan starts to look dry, until the apples are tender, 5 to 10 minutes.4.
Put 7 tablespoons butter in another large skillet over medium heat.5.
When the butter is melted, add the nuts, rolled oats, shredded coconut, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt; toss to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the topping is golden and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.6.
When the fruit is soft, divide it among serving bowls. Scatter the topping over the fruit and serve.