Though bananas still top the chart as the most popular fruit in the U.S., the Produce for Better Health Foundation reports apples are the second most consumed fruit. The second-place produce makes a sweet treat eaten as is, but apples really shine when you add a little bit of butter, sugar, and flour. A classic pie is a fall favorite, but it can be a tricky dessert to pull off. Minor mistakes can lead to a soupy filling, underbaked crust, burnt edges — you name it. Whoever invented the saying “easy as pie,” clearly never attempted to bake a one. When you want a taste of the iconic dessert without so much hassle, turn to these six recipes. They’re just as delicious, but so much easier.
1. Quick and Easy Apple Tart
Apple tarts come in all forms, including the tarte tatin. It’s a classic french dessert where caramelized apples are topped with buttery pastry and then baked. Sounds simple enough, but it doesn’t always come out so nicely. The tart bakes upside down, then gets inverted after it’s finished. The timing is critical for this step. Flip too soon, and the whole thing falls apart. Flip too late, and the topping will cement itself to the pan.
Dessert shouldn’t be that stressful, so make Ree Drummond’s easier apple tart, featured on Food Network. All you have to do is toss sliced apples with sugar, salt, and lemon juice, pile the fruit on some purchased pastry, then let it bake. Once the tart is golden, top it with some bottled caramel sauce and pecans. It’s the rare baked good that can be completed in just 30 minutes.
- 1 whole sheet puff pastry, cut in half
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 3 whole apples, cored, halved, and sliced
- Store-bought caramel sauce
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place puffed pastry onto a greased baking sheet. Add sugar, salt, and lemon juice to apples in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Let sit for a few minutes.
Arrange apples on the pastry in a straight line, overlapping as you go. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Remove from pan, and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with caramel sauce and pecans.
2. Spiced Apple Drops
Apple cake with fluffy frosting would be on the menu more often if it didn’t take so long to make. The worst part is waiting for the finished cake to cool since the frosting will turn to a melted mess if you add it too soon. Get all the flavor of the dessert in a smaller, faster form by making Midwest Living’s drop cookies. Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg deliver the unmistakable taste of fall, and walnuts add just the right amount of crunch. Once they’re out of the oven, these cookies just need to cool off for a few minutes before adding a swirl of frosting. You know what to do next.
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup apple juice or cider
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely chopped, peeled apple
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 tablespoons apple juice or cider
- Ground nutmeg
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed for 30 seconds.
Add sugars, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and apple juice. Beat in as much of the flour as you can. Mix in the apple and walnuts. Drop dough from rounded teaspoon onto a prepared cookie sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and apple juice in a medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Frost cooled cookies, and garnish with nutmeg. Serve.
3. Apple Crisp
A comforting crisp is always a favorite, making it a great choice for entertaining. This seven-ingredient recipe from Epicurious is one of the simplest, so even novice bakers can pull it off with ease. The filling is nothing more than apples with a bit of water since the topping has enough sugar to carry the whole dish. If you’re having guests, toss this in the oven just before they arrive. After you’ve finished the main course, the crisp will still be warm.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
- 2 pounds firm, sweet apples
- Up to ¼ cup water
- Vanilla ice cream or heavy cream
Directions: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter, and use fingers to rub mixture together until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator to chill.
Peel apples, and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out cores, and discard. Cut apples lengthwise into ½- to ¾-inch-thick slices. You should have 6 cups. Transfer apples to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish. Drizzle up to ¼ cup water over apples (less if they’re particularly juicy).
Scatter topping evenly over fruit. Bake until topping is browned, apples are tender when pierced with a knife, and juices are bubbling, about 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or heavy cream.
4. Caramel Apple Ice Cream Sundae
When you want a sweet treat that’s a little more exciting than vanilla ice cream but don’t feel like spending a ton of time in the kitchen, this sweet apple sundae from Cookin’ Canuck will do the trick. Just make a quick caramel sauce, stir in some cooked apples, and ladle the mixture over some of your favorite ice cream. You can stop there, but a sprinkle of toasted nuts and some wafer cookies add even more flavor and texture.
- 2½ medium Gala apples, cored, cut in half, and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ quart vanilla ice cream
Directions: Spread sugar evenly in a large skillet, and set over medium heat. Cook untouched until sugar starts to melt, then stir with a fork until sugar is melted and has turned amber in color. Remove skillet from heat, and carefully add cream. Mixture will bubble vigorously. Return pan to heat, and stir until sauce is completely smooth. Keep warm until ready to use.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples, and cook until beginning to soften and brown. Add apples to caramel, and stir to coat.
Divide ice cream among four bowls or glasses. Top with apple mixture, and serve.
5. Five-Ingredient Apple Turnovers
The blogosphere has been dominated by hand pies for the last few years, almost as if it were a new invention. The treats go by another name you probably recognized as a child: turnovers. While many recipes involve a homemade dough, multiple steps, and plenty of waiting, Blue Apron’s version takes a minimalist approach. Purchased puff pastry makes a perfectly flaky crust for a simple apple filling with a bit of cinnamon.
One thing to consider when planning to make this dessert is the type of puff pastry you purchase. You can find the dough in just about any grocery store, but it’s usually in the freezer section, so you’ll need to allow enough time for the dough to thaw before baking. Toss the package into the fridge the night before, and it’ll be good to go the next day.
- 1 (10-ounce) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 apples
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk or 1 egg beaten with water
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay pastry on counter, and trim into a square. Discard scraps. Cut into four squares, and set aside. Peel, core, and dice apples.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add apples, and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat.
Place on pastry square on baking sheet. Place one quarter of cooked apples in center, fold top edge over bottom, and press to seal. Brush top with milk or egg wash. Repeat with remaining three squares, and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, until golden and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.
6. Apple Bread Pudding
When the weather starts to cool down, a warm dessert is a great way to end the day. We particularly like this bread pudding recipe from Michael Symon, which he shared with Cooking Channel. If you’ve never attempted this dessert before, no worries. It’s more or less the same as making a french toast casserole. It takes a bit of time to bake, but you can use that 90-minute chunk of time to sit back with an adult beverage as you enjoy the smell of apples and cinnamon.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 cups ½-inch cubes of challah bread
- 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 6 eggs
- 1½ cups cream
- 1½ cups milk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Powdered sugar
Directions: Butter a 2-quart baking dish. Toss cubed bread and apples in a large bowl, and arrange in the dish.
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, cream, milk, honey, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over bread and apples. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Set baking dish in a large metal roasting pan, and pour hot water into roasting pan until it comes 1 inch up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until pudding is firm and top is golden brown, about 1½ hours. Cool slightly, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.