High Country Baking; Irish whiskey apple crisp is a perfect St. Patrick’s Day dish | SummitDaily.com

High Country Baking; Irish whiskey apple crisp is a perfect St. Patrick’s Day dish

High elevation makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.

Here’s a classic apple crisp, reworked in honor of Ireland’s celebrated patron saint. Luscious baked fruit subtly flavored by Irish whiskey and crowned with a crisp topping and addictive whiskey sauce. I’m betting it would make St. Patrick smile; it certainly pleased everyone I shared it with.

When I make this recipe at sea level I usually use tart, crisp Granny Smith apples. They’re the apple of choice for many crisps and cobblers. However, at high elevations I’ve found they don’t soften enough when baked so I replace them with a moister, sweeter apple like Golden Delicious; I recommend you do the same.

Out of apple pie spice? Use a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg and a ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger in its place. If you don’t have any Irish whiskey, substitute bourbon or dark rum instead (just don’t tell St. Patrick). If your apples lack sweetness or you prefer a really sweet filling, add 1-2 more tablespoons of brown sugar to the filling mixture.

Irish Whiskey Apple Crisp

Adjusted for elevation.

Make in four 1-cup

ramekins or a 5-cup

capacity baking dish


2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

¼ cup packed lump-free dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon apple pie spice

1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

4-5 medium Golden Delicious apples


¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ cup quick oats

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup packed lump-free dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up

3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

¼ cup packed lump-free dark brown sugar

¼ cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s

1/8 teaspoon salt

1-3 tablespoons Irish whiskey


Make the filling: Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Combine all the filling ingredients except the apples in a large mixing bowl and whisk/stir until fully combined and smooth. Peel, core and cut the apples into ½-inch cubes; you want 4 ½ cups. Add them to the bowl and stir/toss until all are thickly coated and none of the liquid remains at the bottom of the bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes so the apples absorb the flavorings.

Make the topping: Whisk the flour, oats, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl until blended. Add the melted butter and stir until all the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Refrigerate until ready to use. Set the pecans aside; you’ll use them later.

Grease the ramekins/baking pan with butter, including the rims. After the apples have rested 15 minutes, stir/toss them again; they will have given off some juices, so there will be more liquid. Divide them evenly among the four ramekins or spread them evenly in the baking pan. If any liquid remains in the bowl, drizzle it over the apples. Sprinkle the ¼-cup of chopped pecans over the apples, about 1 tablespoon for each of the ramekins. Set aside the remaining pecans. Pinch the topping between your fingers, making irregular clumps, and spread them over the apples/pecans, covering them completely.

Set the ramekins/pan on a foil-lined cookie sheet (to catch any drips) and bake until the topping is golden brown, the filling is bubbling and the apples are soft (test with a fork), about 45-55 minutes for the ramekins, 55-70 minutes for the baking pan (depending on its size). During the last 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans over the topping, dividing it evenly between the ramekins (the nuts will be nicely toasted when the crisps are done). Cool the crisps for at least 20-25 minutes. If served immediately after that, the filling will be soft and very moist. If you cool the crisps completely and reheat them before serving (in a microwave or 325-degree oven), the filling will be firmer. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of room-temperature or warm sauce.

Make the sauce: (can be made up to a day ahead) Add the butter and cream to a small saucepan and warm, stirring until the butter melts. Add the sugars and salt and simmer, stirring until the sugars are fully dissolved. Rub a little between your fingers, it should be totally smooth; no graininess. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, add 1 tablespoon Irish whiskey, taste, and add more to your liking. Use immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat and whisk/stir vigorously before serving.

Vera Dawson is a baking instructor and the author of three high-elevation baking books (available at The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco, and Breck Books in Breckenridge). Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User