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Puttin' on The Mitts: Enjoying fall's fruit

When Chelsey, with a bag of apples in hand, approached me about this week's food column, I thought, "Oh no. I have to bake!" But I was relieved to discover a fabulous recipe online for slow cooker apple cobbler. I didn't know the difference betwe...

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Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler
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When Chelsey, with a bag of apples in hand, approached me about this week's food column, I thought, "Oh no. I have to bake!"

But I was relieved to discover a fabulous recipe online for slow cooker apple cobbler. I didn't know the difference between a cobbler, a crisp and a crumble until I did some research. While all are made with fresh fruit, a cobbler can be made with biscuits, cake mix or cookie dough. A crisp typically contains oats. A crumble does not. But they are both streusel-like.

No matter what, I knew this was the kind of baking I could get on board with. This recipe is all in one pot for easy clean-up and I didn't have to turn my oven on. And I must admit, even in the slow cooker, my house smelled amazing.

This cobbler recipe called for a yellow cake mix which gets sprinkled on top of the apples. Even though butter is drizzled on top of it, I still wondered how it was going to make the "crust" on top.

To my surprise, it turned out great. I was pleased with the flavor and the texture. It wasn't crispy but it wasn't a cake either.

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The apples from Chelsey's backyard were slightly tart so the brown sugar and cinnamon combination was a great compliment. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of a serving of warm apple cobbler and you've got the perfect combination of the end of summer welcoming the beginning of fall.

-- DeLynn

SLOW COOKER APPLE COBBLER

(from the Spicy Southern Kitchen food blog)

6 cups peeled and sliced apples

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

1/4 teaspoon allspice

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1 box yellow cake mix

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray.

Add apples to the slow cooker.

Add and stir in the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and allspice.

Sprinkle cake mix on top of the apples.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon on top and drizzle with butter.

Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

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Makes 6 servings.

-- DeLynn

The apple tree in my parents' yard was the backdrop to several of my sister's and my first day of school photographs.

It grew with us, each year stretching wider and taller and bearing more fruit. When I became interested in cooking, I eyed its bounty hungrily, planning a variety of canning and preservation projects. From more than 50 pounds of apples I made dried apple slices, apple juice, applesauce and apple butter. For days, my kitchen was covered in a thin layer of apple shavings and apple seeds found their way to countertop corners.

This summer, the tree suffered a fatal blow-it split in half during a storm, and my dad discovered it was rotten throughout. The next time I went to my parents' home, it was nothing but a severed stump.

While that tree's life ended, two new apple trees entered my life when I moved into my new home this spring. It was not until the branches burst into pink blossoms that I even knew of my fortune in becoming the proud owner of mature, producing apple trees.

Late last month, with branches heavy with apples nearly untouched by pests-in particular, the deer that so often feasted on my parents' tree-I harvested my first batch. It amounted to more than 35 pounds, and soon visions of apple recipes danced in my head.

The recipe I'm sharing today is a variation of a simple dessert topping I've made several times. I added the cranberries for an even more recognizable autumn feel. While preparing it, I thought of a great way to use it next time-pumpkin pancakes!

Depending on the tartness of apples you're using, adjust the amount of sugar you add to taste.

APPLE-CRANBERRY DESSERT TOPPING

1 1/2 pounds apples

Lemon juice

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups apple juice

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar (more or less, depending on apples)

1/2 cup dried cranberries and/or raisins

1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus 2 tablespoons water

Fill a medium bowl and splash a tablespoon or two of lemon juice into it-this creates acidulated water, which prevents the apples from browning as you cut them.

Cut the apples, removing the seeds and cores, into 1-inch pieces.

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.

Add chopped apples, stirring to coat.

Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples just begin to soften.

Add cinnamon and stir to mix in evenly.

Pour in apple juice and turn up heat, bringing to a boil.

Add cranberries and/or raisins.

Turn heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 10-15 minutes until apples are softened.

Taste for sweetness and adjust with additional brown sugar if necessary.

In a little bowl, mix cornstarch and water to create a slurry.

Mix the slurry into the apple mixture and turn up the heat a bit, just enough to bubble for about 30 seconds.

Remove from heat.

Depending on how you intend to use the topping, you can either use it after cooling for a minute or two or cool for several minutes before refrigerating.

Serve over ice cream, plain yogurt, pancakes, angel food cake or whatever else you'd like-even with pork.

-- Chelsey

Apple-Cranberry Dessert Topping
Apple-Cranberry Dessert Topping

Related Topics: RECIPESFOOD
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