Life is full of uncertainties. What will your life look like 20 years from now? Could your day have been drastically different if you woke up 15 minutes earlier? What would Joan Rivers look like if she’d never gone under the knife?
But one thing is certain: If there is an apple crisp or crumble on a dessert menu, Roger and I will order it with a non-negotiable scoop of vanilla ice cream.
What is it about apple crisps and crumbles that makes us weak? For me, it’s the package deal — warm, gooey apples tucked beneath crunchy, buttery streusel, with a stream of melting ice cream dripping into the crevices. Gooey, crunchy, creamy, sweet — what more do you need??
In the crisp vs. crumble debate, I define them according to Nancy Silverton’s rule: crisps tend to use nuts, whereas crumbles tend to use oats. Call me an equal opportunity employer, but I love them both.
To be honest, it’s pretty hard to mess up a crisp or crumble. But there are certain additions that can give the recipe a kick.
My favorite? Browned butter and a vanilla bean. Browning the butter imparts a nutty flavor and intensifies the caramel flavor of the cooked apples. And browning the butter with a vanilla bean — whose aromatics are fat soluble — adds another caramelly note.
When it comes to these humble desserts, you can dress them up anyway you want, but for me the story is always the same: give me a spoon, get out of my way and get ready for me to beat you to the last bite. I assure you, there’s no uncertainty about that.