Gluten-Free Apple Crisp with Maple Custard Sauce

Recipe and Photos by Katie Lew of CookitFresh

Serves 4-6

For the past several years, our family has heralded the beginning of autumn by taking a trip to the Third Street Apple Orchard in Penrose, Colorado. Although smaller than some of the other local apple farms (the orchard only covers five acres), Third Street Orchard is set apart by their dedication to growing old heritage apple varieties that are hard to find elsewhere. I love their Arkansas Black apples which have a sweet, rich flavor and the Calville Blancs are beautiful, golden apples with a tart bite.  The orchard grows 41 different varieties of apples between their 550 trees. In addition to the impressive selection of apples, Third Street Orchard has the warm, welcoming atmosphere of a small farm. Whether it’s cute baskets for carrying your apples, or vintage tractors for kids to play on, Third Street Orchard is full of fun details that make for a memorable fall activity.

This year I ended up picking 10 pounds of apples, which leaves me with the enviable dilemma of what to do with them all. One of my favorite ways to cook apples is to put them in a traditional apple crisp. The simplicity of this dish allows the flavor of the apples to shine through with just a crunchy topping of oats and nuts to complement the tender, juicy apples. This year, I decided to make a pourable custard sauce, sweetened with maple syrup, to serve over the crisp as a change from the usual whipped cream. I like to serve the crisp warm with the cold custard as a nice contrast on top, but you can also warm up the custard sauce before serving.

Third Street Apple Orchard

935 Third Street

Penrose, CO 81240


For the Filling:

3 cups tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

3 cups sweet apples, such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


For the Topping:

½ cup gluten-free oats

½ cup almond meal

½ cup finely chopped pecans

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup butter, at room temperature


For the Custard Sauce:

2 cups half and half

5 egg yolks

2 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.      For the custard sauce:  Pour the half and half into a medium sized saucepan and heat over medium heat just until it begins to steam, do not allow the half and half to come to full boil or it may curdle. While the half and half is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and maple syrup in a heatproof mixing bowl until smooth. Once the half and half is heated, pour half of it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the egg, pour this mixture back into the pan, whisking constantly. Turn the heat under the pan down to low and continue to cook, stirring constantly, just until the custard thickens to the consistency of a thin, pourable yogurt. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the custard sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2.      For the apple crisp: Preheat oven to 350º. In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples and the rest of the filling ingredients. Toss to coat apples evenly then pour them into a 9-inch pie plate or similarly sized baking dish.

3.      In another mixing bowl, stir together the oats, almond meal, pecans, cinnamon and brown sugar until well combined. Add the butter and use your fingers to rub it into the other ingredients to create a coarse, crumbly mixture. Spoon the crumble topping evenly over the apples in the baking dish.

4.      Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until topping is browned and apples are bubbly. Serve warm with custard sauce poured over, or topped with whipped cream or ice cream.