Crisp, golden apple crumble is the ultimate fall dessert. In this healthy version, chopped walnuts and coconut sugar create a sweet, irresistible topping.
Every year, come October, I start making apple crumbles.
Even if I didn’t like apple crumble, I would still make it, just for the amazing smell that fills my kitchen as it bakes.
Apples, vanilla and cinnamon. These are the scents and flavors of fall. (Pumpkin too, of course.)
The question of topping
The classic apple crumble topping is made of oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cold butter is mixed in, until the mixture becomes crumbly (hence the name of this dessert).
My version is easier and healthier. To achieve delightful crunch, I simply use chopped walnuts to top the apples. I mix the walnuts with melted butter, coconut sugar (which is optional, by the way, as I’ll explain later), vanilla and cinnamon. This crunchy topping is delicious, and very healthy.
The question of sweetener
Classic apple crumble recipes contain a lot of sugar. This is unnecessary. I think we’ve gotten used to adding lots of sugar to everything, because it tastes good and it’s so cheap. We were better off in the days when sugar wasn’t so cheap or so readily available!
The fact is, apple crumble doesn’t even need to be sweetened. Unless you use tart apples (and you shouldn’t), the baked apples are very sweet, and the combination of their natural sweetness with the buttery topping is amazing.
When I make apple crumble, I often divide the mixture into two, and make half with coconut sugar and half with no sugar at all. My husband and I find the unsweetened version much more palatable – the sweetened version is simply too sweet.
If you do want to sweeten your apple crumble, 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar are plenty. You can also use brown sugar, honey, maple syrup or a low-carb sweetener.
The type of apple makes a difference
You should use fresh, crisp apples such as Fuji. Don’t use a soft apple variety such as Macintosh – they will become mushy when baked. And yes, you should peel the apples – the skin will interfere with the crumble’s texture.
How do you core an apple, anyway?
I admit that I own an apple corer (got it on Amazon). I’m not proud of it – I try to avoid buying kitchen unitaskers – but this is one gadget that I actually use quite a bit. If you don’t own an apple corer, simply peel the apple, cut it in half, then cut each half into two quarters, cutting around the core. Or use a small spoon to scoop the core out of each half as shown in method 3 here.
- 2 medium Fuji apples, peeled, cored and sliced into ½-inch-thick slices
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar/ honey/ low-carb sweetener*)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Layer the apple slices in a square 9-inch baking dish, in one or two layers. You can also use four individual baking dishes.
- In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together the chopped walnuts, melted butter, cinnamon, vanilla and coconut sugar.
- Using a rubber spatula, pour the mixture over the apples, spreading it evenly.
- Bake the coated apples until the walnut topping is golden and the apples are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Divide the apple crumble among four plates. Drizzle with the pan juices and serve.
*The low carb version (no sweetener, or a calorie-free sweetener) contains 14 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber, so 10 grams net carbs.