Looking for a dessert that will stand out on your Thanksgiving table this year? In a sea of pie and pumpkin, let apples take the spotlight for once! Apples are arguably the best fall ingredient for pies, yet pumpkin and pecan seem to get all the glory. Crisps and crumbles provide a buttery, crumbly topping without having to roll out any dough. You can bake the entire thing in a cast iron skillet and serve vanilla ice cream right on top. While we’re on the subject, what is the difference between a crisp and a cobbler? A fruit cobbler is more of a sweet biscuit scattered over a fruit filling. A fruit crisp contains oats and, as its name suggests, is a bit crisper.
Who decided pie should be on a Thanksgiving table anyway? Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer in the mid-19th century, advocated for the national holiday of Thanksgiving. Sarah was the editor of the most popular women’s magazine in the country, Godey’s Lady Book (the name is so appropriate for the era). For 17 years, even in the middle of the Civil War, Sarah Josepha Hale wrote letters to President Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward, urging them to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. That would be like if Ina Garten or Martha Stewart advocated for a new holiday today! She firmly believed that, because of the Civil War, more than ever, Americans needed a reason to give thanks. She suggested the last Thursday in November. She even came up with a sample Thanksgiving menu including stuffing, turkey and pumpkin pie. Sarah Josepha Hale was an absolute force to be reckoned with, and I’m thankful for her.
This skillet apple crisp is my recipe, not Sarah Josepha Hale’s, but I think she is proud to know that Thanksgiving is celebrated each year and that we remember her. To make this recipe, you’ll need a cast iron skillet or any baking dish. I like the nostalgia and look of an old fashioned skillet, but use whatever baking dish you have. The apples and the topping cook at the same time. You can even prepare this dish ahead of time and bake it just before dessert. Vanilla ice cream on top is an addition that can’t be skipped. Warm, buttery crisp calls for its cool, complimentary accompaniment…ice cream. If you really want to blow minds, use salted caramel ice cream instead! I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving as we give thanks to the holiday’s biggest supporter, Sarah Josepha Hale.
Skillet Apple Crisp (Serves 6-8)
7 medium apples (cored and sliced-I like honey crisp apples)
2 tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
2 cups brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick of slightly softened unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
- In a mixing bowl, stir together all of the filling ingredients. Add the mixed ingredients to the cast iron skillet or baking dish.
- In another mixing bowl, break up the butter with the flour, oats and brown sugar with your fingers. It should be combined enough so that the topping can be sprinkled on and not in one solid lump.
- Sprinkle the topping all over the fruit filling. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool a little before serving in the skillet and placing vanilla ice cream on top. For an even more decadent version, drizzle the whole thing with caramel sauce. Easier yet, serve the apple crisp with salted caramel flavored ice cream.