Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meet Apple Betty

I have a friend, and her name is Apple Betty.  She's sweet and a little sassy, and even though she can't dance for beans, she's a big hit at parties this season.  Big hit.

I'm sure you've heard of her cousins, Pie, Crumble and Crisp, but there's just something about Betty.  You need to meet her.  Miss A. Betty makes great use of the season's fresh-picked apples, and brings a comforting warmth to anyone within spoon's reach.  Bring her out for dessert, or, hell, parade her around at brunch -- she looks great next to a basket of bagels.  Either way, just invite her to your next party, okay?  She'll come dressed in her brown sugar shortbread base, her spiced, buttery apple blouse, and her crumbled gingersnap hat.  Sounds pretty gorgeous, no?  I think you're going to like her.

Apple Betty

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups homemade or store bought gingersnaps
for shortbread base:
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
for apple filling:
  • 1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 lb tart apples (I like Granny Smith, Golden Delicious or McIntosh)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1/2 orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350ºF.

To make shortbread: Pulse the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until small lumps form (the dough will not seem to fully come together, but will look sandy). Sprinkle the dough into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and press evenly to form the base of the apple betty. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

While the shortbread bakes, grind your gingersnaps and prepare your filling. Place gingersnaps in a food processor and pulse until they look like bread crumbs. Peel, core and slice apples into 1/4-inch slices, and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle apples with 1/3 cup of sugar, ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Squeeze citrus juices on top of apples and add vanilla extract. Stir apples with clean hands or a spoon to evenly coat with sugar, juice and spices. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together flour and 2/3 cup sugar.

Melt the 1 1/4 sticks butter on the stove top or in the microwave.

When the shortbread is out of the oven and still warm, sprinkle it with half of the sugar/flour mixture.

Layer the apples, then the remaining sugar/flour mixture, and top with an even sprinkling of ground gingersnaps. Drizzle the melted butter on top of it all, and bake in upper third of oven, pressing down on filling with a metal spatula halfway through baking, until apples are very tender and gingersnap crumbs are deeply golden, 50 minutes to 1 hour total. Cool 20 minutes in pan on a rack. Serve with generous scoops of vanilla ice cream.


  1. Looks like a great desert for sitting in front of the fire in New Mexico with 9" on snow on the ground.
    Happy Birthday to the Bashionista. Aunt Deb

  2. Thanks, Aunt Deb! And yes, that plan sounds lovely. Truth be told, I am missing having snow . . . I'm in San Francisco right now, but we hadn't had a single flake before I left the east coast. Some of my favorite days of all time have been snow days!