Countdown to Thanksgiving–Day #1: Apple, Pear and Dried Apricot Crisp with Chai-Scented Streusel

Apple-Pear-and-Dried-Apricot-Crisp-with-Chai-Scented-Streusel-ToppingSomehow it happened yet again this year: Thanksgiving is only one day away!

I saved the sweetest for last: this simple crisp with a twist in the form of the Chai spices in the streusel.

It goes together in a snap and disappears even faster.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Beautiful Holiday Dessert: Vegan Apple, Pear and Dried Apricot Crisp with Chai-Scented Streusel Topping

Yield: 8 servings (easily halves)

My fellow vegan cookbook author friend, the gifted and generous Bryanna Clark Grogan, mentioned making an apple crisp to take to a friend–along with a lasagna!–in a recent email.  I told her that I rarely allow myself to make crisps, cobblers and such, as I don’t know when to stop eating them.  They just go down so easily with their tender filling and crunchy topping.

But, alas, she “planted the seed” and I couldn’t resist, especially since I had all of the ingredients on hand, and since Hurricane Sandy was pelting our coast at the time making venturing outside unappealing at best.  I had inadvertently neglected to post it back then, but decided to now, as I think it would make a beautiful and welcome addition to your holiday table.

Lately I’ve seen several recipes for chai-flavored this and that, which sounded perfect for this cool and drizzly day.  So, I decided that my Crisp’s streusel-like topping would be infused with all of those warm chai spices, including the somewhat surprising black pepper.  I found my ratio of spices quite delectable, but feel free to experiment, as proportions vary widely, at least in the recipes I consulted, so that I ultimately decided to create my own.

Wow!  The aroma in our kitchen was particularly inviting!  I think you’ll love the tanginess and slight chewiness of the dried apricots playing off of the otherwise creamy and sweet–but not too sweet–apple and pear filling.  And the gentle heat of the black pepper is perfect in the mix.

Enjoy with vegan vanilla ice cream or your favorite vegan whipped “cream”!  I would love for you to try my “invention” of Vegan Whipped “Cream” published in November by VegNews (thanks VN food editors!).  It is unlike anything else I’ve seen published in print or online.  Very exciting…and you will love it.  Just be sure to “whip it good”!  (Bryanna was my co-tester for this recipe and when she gives something a “thumb’s up,” you KNOW it’s the best.)

I hope you have the bloomin’ best holiday ever!

 

2 tablespoons olive oil (you may substitute vegan butter, but there is a fair amount of vegan butter in the topping)

2 large apples (any sweet-tart variety recommended for cooking), stemmed, cored, and cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces

2 small pears, stemmed, cored, and cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces

1/4 cup natural sugar

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (about a 1/4-inch dice)

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Chai-Scented Streusel Topping (recipe follows)

Accompaniments: vegan vanilla ice cream or vegan whipped “cream”

Oil 8 1/2-cup ramekins, place them on a baking sheet, and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet set over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering.  Add apples, pears, sugar, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.  Saute, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, or until tender and just starting to break down.  Add apricots and cook, stirring, one minute more.  Turn off the heat and stir in flour just until well-incorporated.  Divide the  mixture evenly among ramekins and top with Chai-Scented Streusel by breaking it into small moist clumps almost completely covering the top surface of the filling.  Place the tray of filled ramekins on the center rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until filling is bubbly and streusel is golden brown.  Remove the pan from the oven and cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving accompanied by ice cream or whipped “cream.”

 

For the Chai-Scented Streusel Topping:

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

Optional: 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (I didn’t have any or I would have added)

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup natural sugar

1/2 cup pecan pieces

1/2 cup vegan butter

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl.  Break butter into pieces and work into dry ingredients with your fingers until well-combined.  Avoid over-working or butter will melt from the heat of your hands.

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Vegan Rosemary-Scented Pecan Crumble with Spiked Cranberry-Orange Filling

Yield: 8 servings

I know that a cranberry recipe in April seems odd, especially for a southeastern cook, but I actually have a good explanation:

Each month, as you may or may not know, Better Homes & Garden Magazine runs their “Prize Tested Recipe” competition. I’ve actually won or placed a couple of times in my pre-vegan (though vegetarian) days. The monthly call is for recipes in either of two categories that will be published about 6 months later. Hence, the winners of the “Cranberry Sweets” category that I entered will run next fall.

The recipe I submitted is a favorite that I created for our families’ annual Thanksgiving celebrations a few years back. However, I made a few alterations. For starters, I knew that BH&G would never choose a recipe that called for “vegan butter” as the original version of my crumble does. So, I thought about canola margarine as a substitution, but I wanted something even more widely available; I decided to try good ‘ole canola oil. It worked beautifully!

Knowing, though, that such a change might compromise the flavor, I decided to boost the recipe in that department in several ways. First, I added brandy, orange zest and cinnamon to the filling. Yum. But the real inspiration was what I added to the crumble: fresh rosemary, along with a hint of cinnamon. Double-yum!

If a homespun warm cranberry crumble is not something you find yourself craving this spring, I hope you’ll bookmark it for the fall. It really is already a winner in my (cook) book.

For this recipe and some 170+ more,
I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:
A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press
Spring 2011

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Vegan Cranberry Crunch

Yield: 8 servings

This is our traditional Thanksgiving dessert; my Mom’s absolute favorite. It’s also really good for breakfast, slightly warmed. This year, however, because of our Thai-inspired Thanksgiving menu, I made a pumpkin-coconut milk dessert for the big feast, but I just had to make this a day or so later.

The crust/crumble part of the recipe, which I veganized, comes from Joy of Cooking. Looking for a Thanksgiving dessert one year, I saw it and thought that the filling I wanted with it was pretty much like whole berry cranberry sauce. So, I made the recipe on the back of the fresh cranberry bag and that’s what I’ve done every year since.

Filling:
1 bag of fresh cranberries, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

Mix together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool.

Crust and Topping:

½ cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup regular or quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all ingredients except pecans with a fork. Spoon half of this mixture into 8 or 9” baking dish. (I use a deep dish pie pan.) Pour filling over to cover; it doesn’t have to come quite to the edges. Mix pecans with remaining pastry mixture and spoon evenly over filling. Bake 30-35 minutes or until nicely browned.

Delicious served warm or at room temperature with vegan vanilla ice cream and/or Soy Whip. Refrigerate leftovers–if there is any!–covered.

Source: adapted from Joy of Cooking

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