Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spiced Fruit Crisps

We're snacking happily on these simple fruit crisps, dried in the oven until crunchy. I've seen a lot of versions that add sugar, honey, or maple syrup, but really there's no need to add sweetening: These apple and pear crisps are delicious on their own, and a sprinkling of spices or vanilla bean makes them an irresistible treat.

Isn't that sunset blush color gorgeous? These are Pink Pearl apples, a beautiful tart variety. My favorite stop at the market these days is a stand overflowing with countless varieties of apples and pears. The farmer is generous with samples, and the kids love to taste-test — we usually leave with at least a half-dozen  varieties.

Spiced Fruit Crisps

Use organic fruit, if possible. I get three to four baking pans' worth of crisps from 1 1/2 pounds of fruit.

apples or slightly firm pears
fresh lemon juice
ground spices, such as cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, or ginger

Wash, core, and slice fruit 1/8-inch thick (a mandoline makes quick work of this). Fill a bowl with water, add lemon juice, and soak fruit slices for 10 minutes.

Prepare baking pans with silicon mats or parchment paper. Drain slices and lay out in a single layer on prepared pans.

Sprinkle with your favorite spices. Bake at 225 degrees for 2 to 3 1/2 hours until dry. Watch carefully after the first two hours to avoid browning.

They should be fairly dry to the touch but still a little pliable when done — they'll become crisp within a few minutes after removing them from the oven. (If they don't crisp quickly, return them to the oven for a few more minutes.) Once cool, store in an air-tight container.

Variation: For vanilla crisps, drain fruit and return to bowl. Split and scrape a vanilla bean over the slices and very gently mix in before baking. 

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