I know that these couple of weeks in the run-up to Thanksgiving are all about pie. It’s even Pie Week in some parts of the blogosphere this week! And if I had the mini pie pans to put them in or the extra mouths to eat them, I would love to be tearing into all the gorgeous pie recipes that are popping up these days. (See the end of this post for a list of my favorites!) But tragically I have neither, so I hope you’ll forgive me for proposing an alternative Thanksgiving dessert — these teeny-tiny individual apple crumbles. With brown butter in the crumble. And cheddar cheese. You forgive me, right?
I love brown butter in anything, but especially here, because I found that it added a special depth and nuance to the fall spices in this crumble. On top of that, the savory note from the cheddar cheese is amazing in mellowing out the slight tartness of the apple filling. If you’re surprised by the cheddar — I understand! I’d never had it before in apple pie and almost didn’t get up the courage to add it to my crumble, even though I know it’s tried-and-true in my area of the country. But it was really fantastic. It’s almost indiscernible, but just present enough that you know it’s doing amazing things. Promise. (Plus, some apple pies even use asiago cheese, and some suggest the sharper the better! Now mild cheddar seems positively boring, doesn’t it.)
I love the idea of these as an easy, hassle-free single-serving dessert for a smaller Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, you all know that I’m super into desserts for two (like here, and here … and here), but this one has got to be one of my favorites. (Is declaring something on your blog as your favorite thing that you’ve made like publicly declaring a favorite child? Part of me feels like it might be. But I only said “one of”! I feel like that’s legit.)
Anyway, this is seriously delicious — I don’t think you’ll regret it if you try it. Plus, this only makes two teeny individual crumbles, so even if you don’t like it, you only lost one apple, right?! Clearly I’m not much of a salesperson.
Individual Brown Butter Apple Crumbles (with Cheddar!) for Two
yields two half-cup servings.
1 apple, diced (I didn’t peel them — you can, if you like, but they are diced so small to fit into the ramekins that I didn’t find that the peel made a difference. Three cheers for fiber.)
1 tbsp unsalted butter (for browning)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (up to 1 tsp if you love cinnamon like I do)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
small pinch salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and diced
2-4 tbsp grated cheddar (optional but awesome)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, heat butter until melted, then continue to cook, stirring constantly, until butter has turned a dark brown, nearly black hue. This is darker than traditional brown butter, according to Adrianna Adarme’s recommendation at A Cozy Kitchen. She rocks, I believe her. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine about a tablespoon of this flour mixture with the diced apple. Pour about half the brown butter over the apple mixture and toss to coat. Divide the apple evenly between two 4-ounce or 6-ounce porcelain ramekins. You can fill it up quite tall — the apples will shrink as they cook.
3. To the original bowl with the flour mixture, add the cold (not brown) butter and work the mixture together with your fingers until it is crumbly and forms clumps the size of peas. Pour in the remaining brown butter and mix again until thoroughly distributed. It should be the consistency of wet sand, and should clump together if you squeeze. If using, mix in the cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the topping (or, in my case, pile precariously) over the two ramekins. Again, it’s fine if they’re tiny mountains — they’ll shrink a surprising amount.
4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the top is crisp and dark brown, and the juices from the apples are bubbling at the edges. For topping that is slightly less crunchy, cover the tops of the ramekins with foil while baking. Serve warm or room temperature, with Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream. And if you really love the cheddar, feel free to melt extra into the crumble as you eat it!
And lastly, you know, if you’re just really attached to the idea of pie on Thanksgiving — I can’t blame you if you are! — I think this would work perfectly, too, as a filling for miniature apple pie tarts with crumble topping. I’m also sure that this would work if you tripled or quadrupled the recipe and made a full-size apple pie out of it. There’s no leavener or egg, so you won’t run into any problems proportion-wise by scaling it up. For a fantastic pie crust recipe, check out the crust I used in these pear galettes using a phenomenal and foolproof (obviously, since I made it) pie crust recipe from Courtney at Neighborfood.
Otherwise, check out a few of these fantastic-looking pie recipes below. And tell me how they are, because I’d love to try them!
- These impeccable miniature pie tarts by Jennifer at Savory Simple. I need them in my life.
- All of the pies in this slideshow by Gourmet Magazine, but especially the caramel pumpkin pie and the maple buttermilk.
- Speaking of buttermilk pies, this chamomile buttermilk pie by Adrianna at A Cozy Kitchen also sounds divine.
- And speaking of pumpkin pie, this classed-up bourbon pumpkin pie with walnut crumble by Nancy at Gotta Get Baked.
- This sky-high apple toffee pie by Une Gamine dans la Cuisine.
- This salted honey pie by The Baker Chick, or this wonderfully unique rose and salted honey pie by Adventures in Cooking.
Oh, and lastly — I just moved to a self-hosted WordPress blog this past week (!) and redid my layout! I’m still working through the kinks, so I apologize for any random mishaps you may encounter when viewing my blog in the coming weeks. For anyone who has gone through this process, I’d love to hear your experience and your thoughts! And more generally, I’d always love to hear anything you think I should change or improve about my blog in general.
Hope that you like the new look, and thanks for sticking with me through this new phase of my blog! I’m sad to (partially) leave the wonderful WP community, but hopefully I’ll still be able to stick around in this new form. (I don’t really get this WP.org and WP.com linking thing, so… yes, I hope I can! Slash am!)