Almost every single day during elementary school, I found a bag of apple slices when I unzipped my lunch bag. Always Gala, always half (my younger brother received the other half), and always barely on the brink of browning. Mom tried sprinkling the slices with lemon juice once or twice, but I turned up my nose at the citrus taste!
Even throughout middle and high school, when my dad graciously packed my lunch (we had 7-8 am marching band practices every day, plus another 6-9 pm session on Tuesday nights, so he took pity on me!), I still discovered apple slices nearly every day. Sometimes grapes or clementines replaced them, but very rarely. Apples were just easy to slice, traveled well, and always hit the spot!
So when I spotted Gala apples last weekend during my Target run, I made space for them in my basket among my new paper straws and glass jars (I’m obsessed with photo props… can any other food bloggers relate??). As soon as I walked in the door, I started dicing them to make this Slow Cooker Gingerbread Apple Crumble!
That’s right, this dessert is Part 2 in my Slow Cooker Week series! In case you missed it, we devoured sticky pecan buns yesterday… Sweet, gooey, and covered in caramel, they’re probably the BEST things that will ever come out of your slow cooker. Guaranteed. But the rest of my treats this week are not too far behind!
Unlike yesterday’s pastries, this crumble requires a lot less prep—but a bit more patience because it bakes for longer! We’ll cook the apples by themselves first, mixed with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cornstarch, because they take longer to soften than the crumble topping requires to cook. If you threw everything in together, the apples would still be crunchy by the time the crumb topping finished.
Try to dice the apples about the size of your pinky fingernail, but no larger than your thumbnail. This smaller size helps them bake faster. Also, double check that you flattened the apples after pouring them into the slow cooker. This helps reduce the cracks between the bits, which ensures that the crumble topping stays on top of the apples and not in the crevices.
Just before the 3 hour mark, mix up the crumble topping. Compared to a typical recipe, you need 2 more ingredients for this one: ginger and molasses, the two characteristic flavors of gingerbread! Once you add those in, it tastes exactly like the cutout cookies from your grandmother’s kitchen. It’s almost scary how similar they taste!
Then sprinkle the topping over the apples, and let everything cook for another 2 hours while it fills your kitchen with the warm cozy cinnamony smells of fall comfort food. And then… You have to wait some more. I’m sorry; I know it’s pure torture! (I went through this twice already testing the recipe…)
Once the crumble has finished baking, you need to wait for it to cool to room temperature to allow the fruit juices to thicken. This helps the slices stick together while scooping them from the pot. If you’re impatient (like me), you can stick it in the fridge once the porcelain bowl has cooled down enough to touch. But it’s not against the law to serve it warm… It’ll just fall apart on the plates.
The perfect combination of sweet and spicy, this cozy Slow Cooker Gingerbread Apple Crumble is what cool fall evenings were made for. And mornings too. I may have eaten a slice or two for breakfast…
But it’s basically fruit and a granola-look-alike on top, right?