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October 13, 2011
As promised the recipe for the crumble I loved yesterday – and still love today.
It is as simple as Caroline, the server at Le Bistrot des Colonnes, told me it would be and so basic that it’s almost not a recipe. But then, these are often the kinds of recipes I love most.
A couple of notes, since even the simplest recipes can benefit from notes.
The word crumble: Crumbles are very popular in France now and they’re actually called les crumbles. They’re really pretty much what we call crisps.
: These days in France, which is where I’ll be for the rest of the month, the most popular speculoos
seem to be Lotus Brand, small, thin, deeply flavorful spice cookies that are sold in packages of 240 grams. Happily, the cookies are now pretty widely available in the US, where they're called Biscoff
. (I know this because yesterday I put the question out on Twitter and got the word that people all over the country know and love them. And there’s a Biscoff Spread too – think Nutella but spiced and caramelly. If you can’t find Speculoos or Biscoff, you might be able to find Lu Biscuits’ Bastogne Cinnamon Cookies, which are bigger and thicker and also exceedingly delicious.
: I made the crumble with three different kinds of apples, because that’s what I had in the house and, as I tossed them together I thought of my friend Marie-Helene, she of Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake
fame, who told me that she always uses ‘diverse’ apples when she’s baking – it makes for a much more interesting sweet. So, I encourage you to use whatever you can put your hands on and to mix them up if you can.
I used 1 1/2 pounds of apples and made a smallish crumble in an 8-inch cake pan. It would have looked prettier in a nice little porcelain baking dish, but alas, I didn’t have such a thing – at least I didn’t have one that was empty.
The filling – other possibilities
: Just as with crisps and cobblers, this crumble makes you think of lots of other things you can put under the topping. Pears, of course. In fact, the crumble I had yesterday had both apples and pears. But I think it would be great with the Tropical Crumble combo (from Baking From My Home to Yours
): mango, banana and ginger. And, of course, it would be good with cranberries. But I think it would also be swell with pineapple and perfect with the filling from Depths-of-Fall Butternut Squash Pie (also from BFMHTY).
I know you’re going to make this or your version of this, so please share: Tell me what you do.
Makes 4 servings
1 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks (to make about 1 quart)
1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste
3 tablespoons plump, moist raisins (optional)
1 package (225 grams; about 1/2 pound) Lotus Speculoos/Biscoff or other speculoos
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan or a baking dish that holds 4 to 5 cups. Put the pan or dish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar and raisins and keep at hand, stirring occasionally as you make the crumble topping.
Break the cookies into pieces and put them in another large bowl. I crushed the cookies with my hands, trying not to make too many teensy crumbs, but not succeeding. Cut the butter into small chunks and add them to the bowl. Toss and turn and press the cookies and butter with your fingers and then start working them together until you have a ball of fairly well blended ingredients. Don’t worry about being too thorough – you just want the butter and cookies to stick together.
Give the apples a last stir and then spoon them into the pan, pouring over whatever juices may have accumulated in the bowl. Pull off pieces of the crumble mixture and strew them over the apples – you’ll have enough to almost cover the fruit with lumpy-bumpy hunks of topping. The picture above is of the crumble at this point.
Bake the crumble for 35 to 40 minutes – cover it with a foil tent if the topping is getting too brown, too quickly. You’ll know the crumble is baked when the topping is deeply brown and the fruit is bubbling. Transfer the crumble to a rack and let it cool until it is just warm or reaches room temperature. I think the topping is better at room temperature, but a warm crumble has its fans (lots of them).
The crumble is best the day it is made and still awfully good the next day straight out of the fridge.
, Lotus Bakeries
At Home in Paris
Pies & Tarts
| October 13, 2011 4:31 PM
This looks delicious! If it was not pouring down rain where I am I would be making a mad dash to the grocery to find those cookies to make this ASAP.
| October 13, 2011 6:03 PM
This is just the kind of recipe I need right now. We have a bumper crop of apples this year. We have had two apple pies and a batch of apple butter but still have a lot of apples in the bucket and on the tree.
The deer are even enjoying the windfalls.
Will make the speculoos from your book as I have never seen them in our stores.
replied to comment from Emily
| October 13, 2011 7:00 PM
Emily- I hope the rain stops soon in your neck of the woods so you can venture out to the grocery store. Please let me know how it turns out!
replied to comment from BatbCA
| October 13, 2011 7:03 PM
Barb- Thanks for your comments. You are so lucky to have your own apple tree! Good luck with the speculoos and apple crumble recipe.
| October 13, 2011 7:26 PM
Oh, yum! I actually am out of apples but have loads of Biscoff cookies on hand. I have been trying to find new ways to use them and this sounds delicious. Thanks for the idea.
| October 13, 2011 7:58 PM
I just made Marie-Helene's apple cake tonight and wow---fabulous! I'll be putting this recipe on the list next--perfect for this apple season!
replied to comment from Deb
| October 13, 2011 8:20 PM
Thanks for your sweet comment. I am so glad you enjoyed Marie-Helene's apple cake. Good luck with the crumble recipe!
replied to comment from Misty
| October 13, 2011 8:21 PM
I am glad to offer up a new way to use up leftover Biscoff cookies. Enjoy and Happy Baking!
| October 13, 2011 8:47 PM
Right then. I need to source me some biscoff or speculoos here in Toronto. And pronto. Want this NOW!
| October 14, 2011 5:53 AM
This recipe just would not work for me.
Crumbles have become so commonplace today, especially in France (when I first arrived in the 90s, no-one had heard of them), but they are actually very difficult to get right.
The secret is getting the balance right between sweetness and acidity, a crunch and something softer. Oh, and they should definitely be served warm (something that almost never happens in France).
A speculoos biscuit - particularly the chemical ones produced by Lotus - would bring too much sweetness, and would not make a compact enough crumble. Secondly, for me it is almost as much of a sacrilege to put raisins in a crumble as it is to put them in a chicken curry!
The king of crumbles for me is the rhubarb crumble, and I'd be very interested to see how you would tackle that one!
| October 14, 2011 10:17 AM
Apples are abundant here in Upstate NY right now - I love this variation on the traditional crisp/ crumble. I can imagine that I would figure out how to sneak some oatmeal in too :-)
replied to comment from Cher
| October 14, 2011 2:03 PM
Sneaking in oatmeal is always a good thing - if you do it, let me know who it worked.
replied to comment from James
| October 14, 2011 2:09 PM
Thanks for writing, James. One of the things that I love about food is that we all have so many different opinions about how things should be made and served.
I was surprised that you said that Lotus' Speculoos/Biscoff were chemical and so I went to their website and checked -- in fact, there are no preservatives or additives in the cookies. Take a look ( www.biscoff.com )
| October 14, 2011 2:18 PM
Thanks so much for the recipe, Dorie. I would really love some ideas of what to do with Spec spread, which I adore but tend to eat on toast or pretzels or a spoon. And thanks for defending my beloved Lotus brand!
cherie mercer twohy
| October 14, 2011 4:03 PM
this sounds wonderful. i especially appreciate your recipe language, dorie--"lumpy-bumpy hunks" is gorgeous!
this sounds like a perfect rainy day project. (it's 90+ degrees here today, and i am more than ready for autumn!)
trader joe's has recently done a version of biscoff they are calling "bistro biscuits". quite good, though i really wish they would do an homage to the fabulously addictive biscoff spread! i buy some of that on each visit to paris, and my stockpile is sadly dwindling. i guess i need to book a flight!
| October 14, 2011 4:11 PM
For whatever reason, this crumble just screams "creme anglaise" to me. And I keep getting visions of putting the custard into the crumble. Is that even possible?
BTW, Trader Joe's now carries their own brand of speculoos. In my opinion, they're not as sweet as the Lotus/Biscoff brand, but still really delicious.
replied to comment from cherie mercer twohy
| October 15, 2011 9:34 AM
Thanks for the recommendation. I will check out the Trader Joe's bistro biscuits version next time I am in the states. I hope autumn arrives soon in your neck of the woods so you can make apple crumble.
replied to comment from Annie
| October 15, 2011 9:36 AM
Annie- Those Trader Joe's speculoos must be good because I have received two separate recommendations for them today! Thanks for your note. Let me know if you make the crumble and pair it with creme anglaise. That sounds fabulous to me.
| October 15, 2011 5:06 PM
It's certainly apple crumble weather here in Wisconsin. I generally use my mother's recipe for apple crisp. The topping is butter cut into oatmeal, flour and brown sugar, with a little cinnamon. Although I don't have speculoos in my cupboard, this cookie version is giving me all kinds of ideas!
| October 16, 2011 4:09 AM
I love the idea of using cookies. I think is going to be a cold day in the south east of the UK so could be the day i test out the cookies! Thanks for the tip
| October 16, 2011 9:26 AM
Hola Dorie, me encantan tus recetas y tus libros.
Saludos desde Buenos Aires.
replied to comment from Flor
| October 16, 2011 9:32 AM
Muchas, muchas gracias de Paris.
replied to comment from Noreen
| October 16, 2011 9:34 AM
I think you can do a lot of delicious playing around with the idea of a cookie topping. Please let me know what fun things you come up with!
replied to comment from Kate
| October 16, 2011 11:09 AM
Kate- Use it as the filling for sandwich cookies or you can swirl it into homemade ice cream right before it's fully churned. It's delicious as the bottom, surprise layer in a tart. Put some of the speculoos spread on the bottom of a fulling baked tart crust and then pour over ganache. If you own Around my French Table, you can use the recipe for the Nutella-Chocolate Tart as your guide.
replied to comment from apple crumble
| October 16, 2011 11:12 AM
Apple Crumble- you are most welcome. Enjoy and Happy Baking!
| October 17, 2011 9:25 AM
You are refering to the industrial speculoos from the Belgian company Lotus. A popular product in this country, now working on an international conquest. This resulted in a "sweetening" of the typical coockie from Lotus.
Real speculoos lovers, go fot the real product which is far from sweet. Semi industrial like the speculoos from the Belgian company "Vermeiren" to the home made speculoos from your local bakery shop. Real taste from cinnamon (and not some "flavor of"), cassonade (I don't know the English word), clove etc together with the well kept little secret from the lokal baker, offers a delicate and refined taste. There is no comparison with the industrial Lotus.
On a crumble, yes, these home made speculoos will be a good match with the apple taste.
replied to comment from Freddy Dutoit
| October 17, 2011 11:43 AM
Freddy- Thanks for weighing in on the Great Speculoos Debate of 2011. I think there are many valid opinions and an equal number of delicious cookies out there. All this talk about food is making me hungry. Happy Baking to you!
| October 17, 2011 3:14 PM
Ever since I learned that I have diabetes, I have been trying to find healthier ways to indulge. This apple crumble looks like a great option! Would it be better to make speculoos, or are the store bought ones not that bad?
replied to comment from MaryT
| October 17, 2011 3:29 PM
Mary, I don't know enough about diabetes to advise you, but while I think several of the storebought speculoos are quite tasty, but if you make your own, you can control the ingredients so that they meet your medical needs.
| October 18, 2011 8:22 PM
Went apple picking in western Virginia this past weekend...have been looking for somewhat "different" dishes to try. I may make your speculoos, Dorie, as well. Trader Joe's and enough stores are here in VA and DC, but sometimes I enjoy the pleasure of, start to finish, the dish being all my own. Thank you for a fresh idea!
replied to comment from audra
| October 19, 2011 9:41 AM
I am glad my new apple crumble recipe coincided with your recent apple picking trip. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. Best, Dorie
| October 21, 2011 8:05 AM
Having a Belgiian son-in-law I know about Speculoos since our first trip to meet his Ooma (grandma). Strange as it seems the Biscoff cookies from Lotus are available in Wallgreens drug stores! I learned about the spread from David Liebowitz's blog! The lovely Belgian restaurants Le Pain Quotian has their own Speculoos spread for sale. I'm so glad to see this cooky getting it's day in the sun!
replied to comment from Meryl
| October 21, 2011 8:57 AM
Meryl- I agree with your sentiment, every cookie deserves its day in the sun!
| October 24, 2011 10:49 AM
This recipe is just in time for the holidays. I am strongly considering adding this to my Thanksgiving repertoire. Thanks for sharing.
Neil | Butterfield
| October 25, 2011 8:40 AM
This looks and sounds really delicious. I love apple crumble with cream or ice-cream.
replied to comment from Neil | Butterfield
| October 25, 2011 10:52 AM
Neil- Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoy this recipe- I love all apple desserts in the fall.
| October 26, 2011 11:49 PM
This recipe sounds amazing, and I can't wait to make it! My husband and I have been Delta flyers for years, because his family is from Atlanta, and we both love getting Biscoff cookies on our flights. I'm excited to try them in a recipe (and not while crammed into a tiny seat with a plastic cup of orange juice!)
I also just wanted to say that I admire how graciously you reply to each of your commenters, even ones that are belligerent or possibly spammers. Cheers!
replied to comment from Gwen
| October 27, 2011 7:57 AM
Gwen- Thank you for your sweet comments. I hope you enjoy the apple crumble recipe when you have a chance to try it out. I think the managers at Delta are a smart group: cookies calm and soothe travelers and make the time in the sky pass more quickly.
| October 30, 2011 9:38 PM
Hi Dorie, I just served this to my family tonight and it was devoured! I added a healthy pinch of kosher salt and a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg to the apples (I used Gala), but left everything else the same. Just delicious! I even heard, "I like this better than apple pie!".
replied to comment from Sandy
| October 31, 2011 4:26 AM
Yay! And many thanks for reporting in. This is definitely a play-aroundable recipe and I like your additions of salt and nutmeg. I also like that your family loved the crumble -- it's certainly easy enough to make it a regular treat. Oh, and easier than apple pie :)
| November 2, 2011 5:29 PM
(My French MIL pronounces it 'Grumble,' which makes me smile.
replied to comment from Kelli
| November 3, 2011 8:21 AM
Kelli- I loved this anecdote and hope you enjoy your 'Grumble' soon.
| November 5, 2011 12:09 PM
I made an asian pear crisp using these cookies a while back-- we call them "Delta cookies" after the airlines, and (confession here) I usually grab handfuls when traveling through the Delta Airlines lounges to later eat, or use as part of a crisp topping. Can't wait to try them in this, on their own!
Lois from Rhubarb Central
| November 17, 2011 9:05 AM
I love the idea of using the Speculoos in a crumble recipe!
Sounds scrumptious, and looks equally mouth-watering!
I shall try this recipe.
Thanks for sharing.
replied to comment from Lois from Rhubarb Central
| November 17, 2011 8:50 PM
Lois- Thanks for your sweet comments. I hope you enjoy the recipe.
| November 18, 2011 5:16 AM
It's very special for me. i love speculoos.i really enjoyed it.
replied to comment from Oswald Hamilton
| November 19, 2011 6:25 PM
Oswald- I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe.
| November 28, 2011 2:56 PM
I've got a version of this in the oven up here in Norway - the smell of the speculaas and apples baking with the sounds of a a storm whirling outside are making it very cozy in the house! I had a few speculaas cookies (Vermiere brand) and paste leftover from my last trip to Belgium and mashed them with oats, flour and butter. I also added speculaas spices from a spice pack I purchased in Belgium as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
replied to comment from EL
| November 28, 2011 6:44 PM
You painted such a lovely picture of the moment in your home. We're having unseasonally warm weather in Connecticut and I was so loving it, but speculaas, apples and a whirling storm sound so wonderful. Enjoy it all!
| February 11, 2012 2:49 PM
I've never even thought about using different types of apples in one crumble!! bit of a dropped apple there!! ;) thanks for sharing
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