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.

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.

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.