Lunchbox Multigrain Apple Crisps – vegan & gluten free

There’s been a revolution in lunches here at Chez Sweets.

I started playing with this idea over the summer, and I’m really happy about it. There are actually a couple of ideas at play, but the main one is that you can bake individual desserts – the kind that don’t travel as well as a brownie or a cookie – in the relatively recent generation of storage containers. These are glass containers that are labeled as oven safe and come with tightly fitting lids. All parts are dishwasher safe, which is an excellent quality in any lunch container.

My mom found these glass Anchor containers for me when I first started wondering out loud about the concept, and they are pretty great. They’re a nice size (1 cup), sturdy, and very packable (and not just with crisp). Full disclosure – Anchor has no idea who I am or that I am writing about their product. I just like them.

One of the other ideas at play is that of trying to make lunches more exciting/more delicious/something to look forward to. I am happy to say that a cinnamon spiced sweet apple crisp is a sure-fire way to do so. My lunch mates this week have been happy to help themselves to a bite or two. I am dreaming of translating other recipes the same way.

You don’t have to make this for your lunchbox, of course. Make them in small ramekins, and voila, you have individual desserts. Serve them for guests with a dollop of whipped cream (and perhaps a decorative sprinkling of cinnamon?) for instant accolades. They are also totally healthy enough to have for breakfast.

I’ve already waxed on about the portability concept, but I don’t want to neglect the crisps themselves (it’s bad for their self esteem). These multigrain apple crisps are super yummy! The apples are soft and sweet, and the crisp provides great contrast, not only in terms of texture, but also in flavor. The nutty and cinnamony crunch is delightful. So go forth and bake! You probably already have all the ingredients on hand. Just think how much better your brown bag lunch will look.

Lunchbox Multigrain Apple Crisps – vegan & gluten free

For the nuts – any will work. Pick your favorite! For the pictured batch, I used pecans, but it was a tough internal struggle deciding between those and walnuts. Almonds or hazelnuts would also work well, as would an equal volume of a nut meal or flour. If you have oat flour on hand, substitute a quarter-cup of that for the first quarter-cup of rolled oats.

For the flour – again, any will work. Crisps are wonderfully forgiving in that way. The flour doesn’t really bind things together with gluten here, so you can use your favorite regular, wheat, white whole wheat, nut, gluten free, or any other flour of choice. I’m thinking that rye flour might be a fun option next time.

For the oil – I used olive oil, but you could certainly use any other vegetable oil, melted butter, melted coconut butter, or some combination thereof. I haven’t tried it, but I suspect something like walnut oil would also be a yummy choice.

Makes 8 small crisps

4 large or 5 small-medium apples (about 2 pounds)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp plus 1/4 C raw, Turbinado (often sold as Sugar in the Raw) sugar, or Sucanat
1/4 C plus 3/4 C rolled oats (be sure to use certified gluten free if making for gf folks)
1/4 C sliced or slivered nuts of your choice (see note)
1/2 C whole wheat flour (or a mix; see note)
1/4 C light or dark brown sugar (I used Sucanat)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch or two of nutmeg
Two pinches sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 C plus 1 Tbsp olive oil (see note)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange either eight 6-ounce or six 8-ounce ramekins or oven-safe food storage containers (I love these) on a baking tray. Peel, halve and core apples. Dice them into somewhat small pieces – about .5-inches. Smaller pieces have several advantages; you can squish more fruit into each container, they will bake faster, and they will deflate or sink less as they cool. Toss apples with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 3 tablespoons raw sugar or Sucanat until evenly coated. Divide apples evenly between baking dishes.

Grind 1/4 cup oats with nuts in a food processor until powdery. In a medium bowl, us a fork to whisk oat/almond mixture with remaining rolled oats, wheat flour, remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and baking powder. Keep using the fork to stir in olive oil until crumbly. Divide crumbs over each dish of apples, packing them on with your palms if needed to get them all on (don’t worry, the apples will deflate a bit when they bake- see photos). If you use fewer than eight containers, you will probably have extra topping. Not to worry – save it in the freezer, and pull out anytime you want to make a couple of individual crisps with whatever leftover fruit you have on hand.

Bake apple crisps for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until you can see the juices from the apples bubbling up around the crumbs. If you start to worry about the over browning of the top, put a sheet of foil over the whole tray for remaining baking time. Let cool on rack and serve when lukewarm. Store remaining crisps in fridge. Enjoy at room temperature, or give them a quick blast in the microwave to serve warm.