From a culinary standpoint, there’s little difference between an apple crisp and an apple crumble, except for the topping: the former is generally made with a flour and brown sugar mix, the latter with an oat-based streusel (nuts are always welcome). The bonus feature of either dessert is that, in addition to being the quintessential autumn dessert, is that you can also add a few berries or dried fruits, as in this one that uses dates and raisins. Topping the crumble with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or custard is deliciously obligatory. What’s not to love? You’ll find other crisp and crumble recipes in my Teatime in Ireland and Festive Flavors of Ireland cookbooks. To order a signed copy, visit


Serves 6

For the filling

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped dates

1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 teaspoon mixed spice or

1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

For the crumble

1 cup flour

8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

  1. Make the filling. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the raisins, dates, brown sugar, rum, butter, and spices; microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes, or until the butter is melted and the mixture is syrupy. Add the juice and zest of the lemon and the apples; toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan; spread evenly.
  3. Make the crumble. In a large bowl, combine the flour and butter. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until large clumps form. Stir in the sugar, oats, and pecans; scatter over the apple mixture. Cover with foil.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil; bake for 30 minutes longer, or until the crumble is golden and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.



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