nearly thanksgiving, and a recipe: individual apple crisps

Thanksgiving is in two days, and I’m ready for it. (I think.)

About ten days ago, I made the menu, pulling from Thanksgivings of years past. We nearly completed the shopping last weekend, and I drafted my menu prep timeline. The turkeys are thawing in the fridge right now, and the pie crusts have been made. Today, if I make the cornbread and biscuits for the dressing, and if I make stock for the gravy, I’ll be on right on schedule.

(My type A personality really shines at Thanksgiving.)

We’ll be having smoked turkey – two of them – prepared by my husband on his Big Green Egg. I’ll make my husband’s grandmother’s cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole. I’m ready for a change from the Waldorf salad, but I’m keeping it on the menu this year. My mother will bring her green jello salad and a squash soufflé. She’s contemplating bringing macaroni and cheese, her staple potluck dish.  My mother-in-law will bring a cherry cream cheese pie and a congealed cranberry salad. There will be plenty of pies for dessert: the cherry cream cheese pie, my two pumpkin pies, and pecan pie. I’m planning on making the rolls from scratch this year: cloverleaf rolls from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.

These individual apple crisps are not on the menu, but I wanted you to have the recipe, so I’ll share with you in a bit.

individual apple crisp | the merry gourmet

It’s the mashed potatoes that I’m torn about. My father always made the mashed potatoes. It was his dish. Each Thanksgiving, just before the dinner was to be served, he mashed the cooked potatoes and then added hefty doses of butter, half-and-half, and cream cheese. He would carefully season them with salt and pepper, and when he had them nearly perfect, he would call me into the kitchen to sample them off the wooden spoon. His seasoning was usually spot on. They were good potatoes, decadent potatoes, and made even better when drizzled with his giblet gravy.

My father will not be at our Thanksgiving meal this year. This will be the first one without him there. While we’re gathered in my home with family and friends, he’ll be in his nursing home. I’m hopeful (and fairly optimistic) that he’ll be unaware of the significance of the day.

I really didn’t want to make his mashed potatoes in his absence, without him to taste test for me, as I always tasted his, for him. In our first shopping trip last weekend, I didn’t buy any potatoes. I didn’t even put mashed potatoes on my menu or prep list. They’re still not on the list, but yesterday I broke down and bought potatoes and half-and-half. But I didn’t buy the cream cheese.

I woke this morning at 5 am, despite this being my first day of a six-day vacation. I awoke thinking of those damn potatoes.

I think I’m going to go buy the cream cheese today. Just in case.

*   *   *   *   *

These individual apple crisps make for a great dessert for a family of four. They also make for a decadent snack for a playdate of three nine-year old girls and one seven-year old little brother. I like fruit crisps (or crumbles or cobblers) to be heavy on the crisp, and these fit that criteria.

individual apple crisp | the merry gourmet

Yield: Serves 4.

Individual Apple Crisps

My kids love having their own individual dessert, baked especially for them, so these individual apple crisps were right up their alley. If you're feeling especially generous, you can serve these with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Expect extra hugs.



3 Granny Smith apples (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, and chopped
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place oven rack in middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a medium bowl, combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon; set aside.

Combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Pour melted butter over the flour and oat mixture and mix with a fork until well blended.

Divide apples evenly between 4 small ramekins. Top each with 1/4 of the streusel topping. Place ramekins on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool until ramekins have cooled enough to be handled. Serve warm.

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13 Responses to “nearly thanksgiving, and a recipe: individual apple crisps”

  1. 1
    Amy @ The Nifty Foodie — November 26, 2013 @ 9:24 am

    I can’t imagine how hard this is on your family right now. 🙁 Sending good thoughts your way, and I’m hoping that your family still has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  2. 2
    Robin — November 26, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    Make the potatoes and celebrate your dad. This is my first Thanksgiving without either of my parents; my dad died 3 1/2 years ago and my mother just this past March. Last year, I made Thanksgiving dinner for my sisters, brother-in-law, Mom and her caregivers (she and one sister lived together and I hired 24/7 aides to help). This year, it’s just the one sister and me, but faced with the alternative of going to restaurant, I am reprising our normal Thanksgiving meal, complete with my mother’s stuffing recipe.

  3. 3
    Paula — November 26, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    I love individual desserts and your apple. risks look wonderful. I’m sorry that your Thanksgiving celebration will happen without your Dad there. I can imagine how much his presence will be missed. If you do decide to make is mashed potatoes, perhaps saving some and taking a plate of warmed leftovers to him the next day will help. Food has the power to trigger long lost memories and you just never know. It certainly won’t be the same as having him present at your Thanksgiving table but you will have shared part of the holiday with him in a little way.
    I wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving.

  4. 4
    Katy — November 26, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

    I’m in hopes you bought cream cheese…it’s a great tribute to your Dad…no matter where he is…your heart will be blessed. Blessings and Love to you and yours, Katy

  5. 5
    Gudie — November 26, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

    I know what a heavy heart you must have, my mother passed away last year before Christmas, so I can relate to your feelings. Make the potatoes, and like Paula said, bring your father a small plate the next day. You might get a smile, and that will be worth more than anything, those are the moments we can cherish. Happy Thanksgiving you and your family

  6. 6
    Jennifer — November 26, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

    Hi Merry – I love reading your posts, and I especially appreciate your sharing of your thoughts about your dad. My mom fought valiantly against her dementia for just as long as she possibly could. I feel your pain. I vote yes on making your dad’s mashed potatoes in his honor. We can’t change the hand we’re dealt, and you have such good memories of him and those mashed potatoes. I believe it will actually make you feel better that you did make them. Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving. Jennifer

  7. 7
    Eileen — November 26, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    Dinner sounds delicious! But don’t shy away from those yummy mashed potatoes. Include them on your menu and celebrate what your dad brought to your families table each Thanksgiving 🙂

  8. 8
    Boyce D. George — November 26, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

    I’ll be thinking about your dad this week as well. This is my favorite holiday and I often think of my own mom and dad during this time. Yes, fix those mashed potatoes. We’ll be celebrating at Angela’s and all of us will be together. This is, by far, my favorite holiday.

  9. 9
    Macaroni Mama — November 26, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

    Please fix the mashed potatoes. Love you, girly!

  10. 10
    Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks — November 27, 2013 @ 8:20 am

    This apple crisp looks delicious. I love more crisp than fruit, too. I hope sharing a Thanksgiving meal with your family helps heal the sadness and void of your father not joining you. Maybe the ritual of making the mashed potatoes, while thinking of him, will bring you a bit of comfort. Either way, I hope you enjoy the time with your family!

  11. 11
    Trish — November 30, 2013 @ 6:51 am

    I hope that you fixed the potatoes.

  12. 12
    Nutmeg Nanny — December 3, 2013 @ 11:19 am

    Apple crisps were always my absolute favorite when I was growing up 🙂 I love this recipe and can’t wait to give it a taste!

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