The Secret to the Best Ever Apple Crisp? It’s Actually Miso

published Oct 29, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

While I like a good apple pie as much as the next person, apple crisp has a longstanding spot at the top of my fall bucket list. There’s a lot to love about this dessert, but for me, it’s all about the buttery brown sugar crisp on top. The cinnamon-spiked apples are delicious, but the topping is what makes me stick my spoon back in the baking dish for seconds (and sometimes thirds). To me, a good topping isn’t just crunchy and sweet — it’s also a rich and roasted counterpoint to the juicy apples, with a touch of salt that, like with caramel, only makes the dish sweeter.

My secret for making the most irresistibly delicious apple crisp topping starts with a surprisingly savory ingredient: miso.

Why Miso Paste Makes Crisp Irresistible

If your only experience with miso is as a base for soup or a marinade for salmon, it’s time to rethink this amazingly versatile ingredient. Its umami-packed salinity is actually a perfect counterpoint for dessert! The rich notes balance the sweet brown sugar and oat topping (and apple filling!), give the crisp a hint of saltiness, and, best of all, bring a touch of savory flavor. It also leaves your crisp with a slightly darker topping and pockets of deep brown color.

Credit: Kelli Foster

The Best Way to Add Miso to Apple Crisp

One of the great things about a fruit crisp is how versatile it is, which means it’s easy to whisk in a spoonful of miso. Mild white miso paste, which has some subtly sweet undertones, is the best choice for mixing into your apple crisp topping, and it’s important to remember that a little goes a long way. Not only can too much miso make for an overpowering flavor, but the topping can also be more likely to burn.

Once the butter is melted, and still warm, add one to two tablespoons of miso paste and whisk well until it’s completely combined and the mixture is smooth. Then pour the miso-butter into the dry ingredients, finish prepping and assembling the crisp according to the recipe, and start checking for doneness at the 40-minute mark.