Crisp may not be as pretty as pie but I’ve always liked it better. The crunchy topping is the perfect counterpoint to tender fruit, and won’t get soggy if served à la mode—which I would highly recommend. Apple crisp is especially good since apples don’t release as much liquid as berries or cherries; as they cook down in the sugar and spices, they form a delicious caramel-y sauce.
The apple layer in a crisp can be made with little more than apples, sugar and cinnamon, but a squeeze of lemon for tartness, a dribble of vanilla for sweetness, and a bit of cornstarch for thickening will make your crisp stand out from the rest.
Pro tip: To maximize crunch, remove lid and paper towels and cook uncovered for the last ½ hour of cooking time.