Even if you don’t like apple crisp or have any intention of making it, you should still make this whiskey salted caramel sauce. And then eat it on everything. Ice cream, apples, brownies, cookies, yogurt. Pizza? Dessert pizza, maybe.
The amazing thing about this whiskey salted caramel sauce is that you make it in a slow cooker, so it requires practically no work. But is tastes like you labored over the stove, stirring caramel for hours. It’s pretty much magic.
So when I mentioned recently that I was excited for apple season, I meant it! Because apple season means apple desserts.
And with this recipe, I get to combine apples with another thing I’m excited about for fall, slow cookers. If you don’t have one, what’s your excuse? You can buy one new for less than $25 (put it on your Christmas list), or do what I did, and find one at a thrift store for less than $10. What’s that, the cost of two or three mochas? SO worth it.
A lady at the grocery store the other day asked what I was making with the ingredients I was purchasing, and when I told her it was slow cooker caramel sauce, she was intrigued. But she also mentioned that she has one, but forgets to use it. So if you have that problem, consider this your reminder! If you’re not sure what to cook in yours, there are tons of cookbooks that are great starting points. I have Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, and just picked up a used copy of The Vegan Slow Cooker, but omnivores rave about I Love My Slow Cooker.
Back to dessert: The beauty of apple crisp is that you don’t have to worry about crusts. You just slice up apples, put them in a baking dish, and cover with streusel, which is basically everyone’s favorite part of a muffin. That’s because it’s mainly sugar, butter, and oats, and it cooks up crunchy and sweet. It goes perfectly with ice cream.
A couple of notes:
- Because I was topping my crisp with the whiskey salted caramel, I erred on the side of less sweet. You may want to add another tablespoon of white sugar to the apples if you’re not making the caramel.
- The first time you make the whiskey salted caramel, you’ll want to check on it after 4 to 5 hours, and then every few hours after that, to figure out how long to cook it. Once you’ve worked the timing out, you can make it ahead of time, and forget about it til it’s done, then bake up your crisp in time for dessert. The sauce thickens up in the fridge, but you can reheat it in a microwave.
- This recipe makes a lot of caramel sauce, so be prepared with extra jars to give away to friends. (You can halve it, but then you’ll have half a can of sweetened condensed milk left over.)
Apple Crisp with Slow Cooker Whiskey Salted Caramel Sauce
5-6 baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (2 1/2-3 pounds, I used Granny Smith apples)
2 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
Streusel oat topping
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp fine salt
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces, plus 1 Tbsp more for coating the dish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
If using a cast iron skillet, place about 1 Tbsp of butter in a 10″-diameter skillet, and put the skillet in the oven while it’s pre-heating. When the butter has melted, remove the skillet from the oven and tilt it to coat the bottom and sides in melted butter. Otherwise, grease an 8×8 square baking dish.
Place sliced apples in a medium bowl, add white sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and toss to coat. Transfer the apples to the skillet or baking dish.
Using the same bowl as for mixing the apples, stir together the brown sugar, oats, flour, salt, and cinnamon until evenly combined. With your fingertips, blend in the butter pieces until small clumps form and the butter is evenly distributed.
Spread the topping evenly over the apples and bake until the streusel is browned and the apples are tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool on a rack at least 30 minutes before serving.
Additional apples, sliced
Vanilla ice cream
Whiskey salted caramel sauce
Slow Cooker Whiskey Salted Caramel Sauce
Makes 4 cups.
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp whiskey
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp sea salt
Find a glass heat-proof bowl (minimum 1.5 quarts) that will fit inside your slow cooker. Make sure the lid of the slow cooker will fit securely with the bowl inside.
Add sweetened condensed milk, melted butter, corn syrup, whiskey, and lemon juice to the glass bowl, and stir to combine until mixed. Add white and brown sugar and salt; stir until completely mixed.
Place the bowl in the slow cooker. (There’s no need to add any extra lid or cover to the glass bowl.) Add hot tap water to the slow cooker until the water level is about even with the contents of the bowl. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high. (Not low; caramel requires the highest heat setting.)
Slow cooker temperatures vary, so I’ll give you guidance on time, but use your best judgement. The sauce should be at least the thickness of honey, and smooth when stirred. The first time you make this caramel sauce in your slow cooker, check after 4-5 hours. Stir, drip some on a dish, allow to cool, and taste. If it’s done at that point, great, if not check again after a few hours. I cooked mine for 6-7 hours, which gave me a thick, slightly darker sauce. For a thicker, darker sauce and more intense caramel flavor, cook for up to 9-10 hours.
When you’re happy with the consistency and flavor, carefully remove bowl of hot caramel sauce from slow cooker. Whisk (or stir rapidly) until silky and smooth.
If it’s gotten too thick, while it’s still hot, stir in milk or water a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.