Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Slow-Cooked Praline Apple Crisp

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – April 14, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published by Pillsbury via e-mail on Thursday, September 25, 2008.

I love using my slow cooker, but only when I’m at home.  Here is some of my reasoning:
  • I hate having food cooking while I’m not at home.  Having 3 dogs, I am terrified of something burning or an appliance catching fire when I’m not there to get my furry babies out of my house.
  • One of the best parts of cooking is the smell.  I love going upstairs to get something and coming back down to an intoxicating aroma of my dinner cooking.
  • I’m afraid of losing track of time.  I very easily can turn running a simple errand into a several hour excursion.  When I cook, I need to be focused and that includes alarms being set.
But like I said, I do enjoy using my slow cooker.  It gives me the ability to throw something in for dinner and do housework or work on the blog.  
When I found this recipe for a slow cooker dessert, I jumped right on it. My husband loves apples and apple crisp, so it was perfect for us.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow-Cooked Praline Apple Crisp
This looks really good, but it probably would look “prettier” if I had ice cream or whipped topping on it.  It’s interesting because the ingredient listing says “ice cream optional” but the directions say to “serve it with ice cream.”  There’s no optional about it.  I’m not sure why I didn’t do it, other than to save money and calories/fat/cholesterol.

© Pillsbury
Their apple pieces look chunkier and heartier than mine.  Overall, my crisp looks a little more browned.  Still, if I’m being honest, Pillsbury’s looks yummier because of the ice cream melting all over it.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – There’s very little equipment and everything is easy to clean.  The apples aren’t a gigantic mess, but there is a lot of them to cut and you have to find room.

Start-to-Finish Time: AROUND FOUR HOURS AND 30 MINUTES – Keep in mind, only around 30 minutes of this recipe time is hands-on.  The rest is slow-cooking time, but you’re going to need the bulk of a day to finish this dish.

Prep Work: LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE – So chopping apples sucks.  I probably would have given this a SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS rating, but I had actual blood loss while making this dish (see below), so in good conscience I needed to bump it up to warn everyone.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow-Cooked Praline Apple Crisp
Injury #1 (yes, a multiple injury dish)
Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – You chop some apples, mix some topping and then throw it in a slow-cooker.  No pre-browning.  No extra ingredients to cook and add later.  Just throw some stuff into a slow cooker and read a book.

OverallSORRY HONEY, NO LEFTOVERS – Even thought this is supposed to serve 10 people, I think it lasted maybe 2 or 3 days total.  Once my husband introduced the whipped topping to the dish, it was all over.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 10 (1/2 cup each)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 25 minutes

A half cup of the crisp doesn’t go a long way if you’re not eating it with ice cream or whipped topping, but if you’re serving it with something else, it definitely can serve 8 to 10 people.  The timing was almost exact for me… maybe just a couple of minutes more.  The bulk of my time came with the prep which consisted only of chopping apples and dealing with an injury.  Here is how my timing came out:
  • Prep Time: 21 minutes
  • Assembly Time: 6 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 27 minutes
Nutritional Information
  • Calories 280
  • Total Fat 17g (Saturated Fat 7g)
  • Cholesterol 30mg
  • Sodium 110mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 30g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Sugars 20g
  • Protein 2g
It is relatively decent for a dessert, but I wasn’t sure if the nutritional information was on the apple crisp with the ice cream or not.  When I decided to run the recipe through Spark, I added a quarter cup of regular vanilla ice cream with it since that is how they served it (and how I’d recommend serving it as well).  Here is what I came up with:
  • Calories 424.1
  • Total Fat 27.4g (Saturated Fat 13.7g)
  • Cholesterol 88.1mg
  • Sodium 64.5mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 49.7 g
  • Fiber 4g
  • Sugars 37.9g
  • Protein 4g
So clearly their estimate was for the crisp only and that makes it a little less good for an everyday dessert.  Add that ice cream and everything “bad for you” doubles.  When we had it, we ate it with Fat Free Cool Whip, so I did my nutritional information numbers with that in mind.  I came out with the following numbers:
  • Calories 330.3
  • Total Fat 20.8g (Saturated Fat 10.3g)
  • Cholesterol 28.4mg
  • Sodium 78mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 43.2g
  • Fiber 4g
  • Sugars 31.9g
  • Protein 2g
This is a little better for an evening dessert.  Okay, maybe the fat free whipped topping isn’t as tasty as full fat vanilla ice cream, but it was still great.

Changes denoted by red text
© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow-Cooked Praline Apple Crisp
6 medium-size crisp tart apples (Granny Smith or Braeburn), peeled if desired, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 6 cups)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup toffee bits
Ice cream or fat free whipped topping, if desired
Cooking Spray
Fit Wash

Ingredient Notes:
Apples – I used Granny Smith apples because my husband LOVES them.  I also peeled them, even though the recipe said it was optional.  I’d like to say that was because I already knew that Granny Smith have thick skins and cook better peeled, as I learned from Cook’s Thesaurus, but unfortunately, I’m not that smart.  I just wanted the peels off.

Butter – Obviously the recipe doesn’t specify, but most cookbooks are referring to unsalted/sweet cream/sweet butte, and that’s what I used.  I did a little checking and I guess the difference between unsalted and salted is the amount of time it takes to spoil (salted = longer).

Pecans – I had whole pecans on hand and chopped them myself.  However, if you don’t have a mini- or hand-chop, just buy the pre-chopped to make your life a lot easier.

Toffee Bits – I used Heath Toffee Bits from a bag.  Just like the pecans, you can buy whole toffee bars cheaper and chop them yourself.  However, same as the pecans, if you don’t have a mini- or hand-chop, just buy them in bits.

Ice Cream / Fat Free Whipped Topping – The recipe called for ice cream, so if you decide to serve with it, make sure you go with vanilla or cinnamon.  You don’t’ want anything competing with the taste of the crisp.  As I said before, I used fat free whipped topping, which wasn’t as lush, but healthier.

Cooking Spray – The recipe tells you to coat your slow cooker before adding anything to it, but of course it wasn’t in the ingredient list.

Fit Wash – Even though I peeled my apples, I still washed them first.  Since apples tend to be a little waxy, I found my fit wash really helps get rid of that buildup first.

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow-Cooked Praline Apple Crisp
Vegetable peeler
Cutting Board
Sharp knife
4-quart slow cooker
Large bowl
Spoon – mixing
Medium bowl
Pastry cutter

Equipment Notes:
4-quart Slow Cooker – The recipe called for a 3- or 4-quart slow cooker.  I used a 4-quart and it was almost filled to the top!  I would definitely recommend using 4 or bigger because you may be tempting fate to try to get it into a 3-quart slow cooker.

I would also suggest getting an apple corer or apple cutter.  Removing the seeds is a giant pain in the butt.  Next time I have to peel and core apples, I will definitely be picking one up.

(1)  Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow-Cooked Praline Apple Crisp
Apples prepped and ready for cooking
(2)  In large bowl, mix apples and cinnamon to coat. Place in slow cooker.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow-Cooked Praline Apple Crisp
Topping base
(3)  In medium bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, flour and butter with pastry blender or fork until crumbly.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow-Cooked Praline Apple Crisp
(4)  Stir in pecans and toffee bits. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over apples.

(5)  Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 to 6 hours. Serve apple crisp with ice cream.

Betty Crocker says, “If you’d like the apple slices to retain their shape and have a slightly firm texture, use the low end of the cook time range.”  I’m going to assume that they went with 4 hours since they have firm thick apples.

Another thing to note… while I was cooking, I leaned up against the crock pot and burned my stomach causing injury #2.  That will teach me to be careful around it.  It also makes me wonder if I should be working harder to lose weight.  Hey, at least I felt it before I got a serious burn.

I have really thought about what I would change if anything.  We really enjoyed the crisp, so I probably wouldn’t touch that.  However, I probably would serve it with ice cream.  Okay, after reading the past paragraph again, I’ll go with low fat ice cream.

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