Butterscotch apple crisp brings together the tangy crunch of granny smith apples with the sweet spice of bourbon butterscotch sauce. Top it off with a buttery streusel oatmeal topping for all the flavors of a classic apple pie, but with much less time and effort. As they say: It’s easier than apple pie! Read on for my tips and check out the video on making the bourbon butterscotch sauce, or skip on down to the recipe and get cooking!
Apples are one of my favorite foods of fall. You can eat them straight off the tree or turn them into so many delicious dishes. Apple date mini pies, apple butter, apple cinnamon rolls, and creamy butternut squash apple soup are always on my list, but this butterscotch apple crisp is sitting at the top.
It’s laced with the most decadent bourbon butterscotch sauce, with a sweet buttery texture and just a hint of spice. Can you just imagine the aroma of apples and cinnamon wafting through the air as you pull this out of the oven? There is something so cozy about that smell that evokes all the comforts of fall.
The best part about this decadent treat is that it is easy. Yep, today we aren’t just making a decadently gourmet treat, but we are doing it with a fraction of the effort that it takes to make an apple pie.
I chose granny smith apples the first time I made this crisp because I picked up a whole bushel of them while apple picking. Even after testing this cobbler with honey crisp, gala, and macintosh apples, granny smith will always be my go to for this butterscotch apple crisp recipe.
First, I love how the tart tanginess of the granny smith plays against the sweetness of the butterscotch sauce. The honeycrisp and gala apples made for a dessert that was way too sweet for my tastes.
Also, when I’m eating a crumble, crisp, or cobbler I like when I can identify the chunks of fruit. The granny smith does a much better job of keeping it’s structure when it’s baked, as it doesn’t easily turn into mush.
Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce
What makes this recipe truly special is the bourbon butterscotch sauce. Similar to a caramel sauce (and why at one point this recipe was called a Caramel Apple Crumble) a butterscotch sauce is made from sugar, butter, and heavy cream. Caramel uses white granulated sugar, while butterscotch uses brown sugar.
For this crisp we are going back to my roots and taking the flavor profiles up a notch by swapping out the vanilla for old fashioned Kentucky bourbon. Check out the video below for the step by step process or go here for more details: Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce.
Crumble vs. Crisp
When it comes to the world of crumbles and crisps the terms both describe fruit based desserts with a buttery, streusel like topping. For the longest time I thought the names were a regional difference instead of a culinary difference. Still many people use the terms interchangeably, but there is an actual difference between the two.
For a crumble that topping typically consists of butter, sugar, and flour. A crisp goes one step farther and adds a dried cereal, like oats, to the mixture. The oats toast up in the oven, making the topping a little less dense and giving its namesake crispy crunch.
I have always preferred the crispiness that is a crisp without knowing the difference. Hence, my apple crumble recipe is now properly names an apple crisp recipe.
Tips for a Perfect Crisp
- After the apples macerate in the caramel sauce, scoop them into the pan using a slotted spoon. Adding the macerated liquid into baking dish will leave you with a watery mess instead of a crispy crisp.
- You can use a pie pan, casserole dish, or (my choice) cast iron skillet for this crisp. If your apples go all the way to the top, place a sheet pan on the lower rack in the oven to catch any drips in case it bubbles over.
- Spread the crisp topping as evenly as possible over the fruit.
- You’ll know it’s done when the filling is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown.
When I first set out to make this I thought I was making a bourbon apple crumble. With the latest update, I’ve changed the name to reflect that it uses a butterscotch sauce instead of caramel and that it is in fact a crisp and not a crumble. In fact, you may have found this recipe through pinterest with the label Bourbon Apple Crumble or Caramel Apple Crumble. The truth is, it’s still the same recipe, but by a different name.
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Butterscotch Apple Crisp Recipe
Tart granny smith apples wrapped up in sweet bourbon butterscotch sauce and layered with a crispy, crumbly, buttery topping. Best enjoyed warm from the oven with extra sauce drizzled on top. For an extra decadent treat add sweet cream ice cream and maple bourbon whipped cream.
If you happen to have leftovers, they will keep for 2 days at room temperature or 3 – 5 days in the fridge. While it does work to cover it with foil or plastic wrap, a reusable pie sized storage container works best.
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Butterscotch Apple Crisp
Butterscotch Apple Filling
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp bourbon or vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 apples
Apple Crisp Topping
- 1/2 cup cold butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar*
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butterscotch Apple Filling
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup of butter until foamy. Add in 1 cup of brown sugar and continue to cook 3 - 5 minutes, until it's the consistency of molten lava.
- Stir in cream, 1/2 tsp salt, and bourbon or vanilla and continue to cook over medium heat.
- Mixture will bubble up and expand. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Once the mixture has tripled in size remove from heat and allow to cool slightly in the pan.
- Wash and peel your apples. Cut them into 8 wedges, then thinly slice the wedges.
- Toss the sliced apples with 1/2 cup of the warm caramel sauce. Set aside and allow to macerate.
Apple Crisp Topping
- Chop cold butter into small chunks. In a small bowl combine flour, oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter chunks. Crumble butter into the rest of the ingredients until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand.
Assemble and Bake
- Pour 1/4 cup of caramel into the bottom of a 10" cast iron pan or pie pan. Spoon the caramel covered apples on top, being careful not to add the liquid from the bottom of the bowl. Top with the oat and flour mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve warm with extra caramel sauce on top.