Apple Cranberry Crumble

Apple, cranberry, and cinnamon: the perfect combination of tastes and scents for winter holidays!

I took a bit of carbohydrate liberties with this recipe. The entire recipe yields a delicious cheesecake-like crumble with 59 “net” grams carbohydrates (total carbs – fiber); divided among 10 slices, that’s 5.9 grams net carbs per serving, a quantity most tolerate just fine. (To reduce carbohydrates, the molasses in the crumble is optional, reducing total carbohydrate by 11 grams.)

Other good choices for sweeteners include liquid stevia, stevia glycerite, powdered stevia (pure or inulin-based, not maltodextrin-based), Truvía, Swerve, and erythritol. And always taste your batter to test sweetness, since sweeteners vary in sweetness from brand to brand and your individual sensitivity to sweetness depends on how long you’ve been wheat-free. (The longer you’ve been wheat-free, the less sweetness you desire.)

Crust and crumble topping
3 cups almond meal
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 cup xylitol (or other sweetener equivalent to 1 cup sugar)
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon molasses
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Dash sea salt

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
½ cup xylitol (or other sweetener equivalent to ½ cup sugar)
1 Granny Smith apple (or other variety)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In large bowl, combine almond meal, butter, sweetener, cinnamon, molasses, vanilla, and salt and mix.

Grease a 9½-inch tart or pie pan. Using approximately 1 cup of the almond meal mixture, form a thin bottom crust with your hands or spoon.

In another bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs, and sweetener and mix with spoon or mixer at low-speed. Pour into tart or pie pan.

Core apple and slice into very thin sections. Arrange in circles around the edge of the cream cheese mixture, working inwards. Distribute cranberries over top, then sprinkle cinnamon over entire mixture.

Gently layer remaining almond meal crumble evenly over top. Bake for 30 minutes or until topping lightly browned.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Lisa L.

    I am second in line for the cookbook! Actually you can preorder on Amazon and have it delivered to you on the day it comes out! I think I have everything in the recipe in the house and a week to have fun cooking! I am trying this one! Thank you!

  2. Birgit

    Looks like we’ll try this for Thanksgiving. My guess is we’ll be able to at least cut the Xylitol in half for the crust since almonds are naturally sweet.
    Thanks for a great idea. :)

  3. Birgit

    One more comment for all who don’t know to prevent accidents over the holidays. While Xylitol is a wonderful sweetener for people it is highly toxic to companion animals (dogs,cats) leading to a very sudden and dramatic insulin response, severe hypoglycemia followed by liver damage and death in relatively small doses if not immediately treated. Make sure to keep anything with Xylitol, even gum, far away from your furry friends. :)

    • Thanks so much for the info about animals.
      I have a 5 month old kitten that wants to get into everything!
      PS..We’re raising him on a grain-free diet, he won’t have a feline wheat belly!

        • Boundless

          And cat and dog pet food these days is just as contaminated with wheat as human so-called food, and for two of the same reasons: cheap filler that promotes over-eating. This is a recent development. Wheat does not belong in these products.

          There are brands with formulations without wheat, but even without it, feline and canine pet food is probably still too glycemic.

    • Grace

      I would be most worried about guests (especially kids and grandparents!) giving dogs “table scraps”, or dogs who “steal” food from the counters of coffee table (where people sometimes leave plates of half eaten food), or dogs who dig in the garbage.

      We have a dog who never steals food or digs in the garbage, but I don’t know that I would trust that someone wouldn’t think they’re being “nice” and give the dog a little something, not realizing of course….
      Think I’ll stick to Truvia. :-)

  4. Margaretrc

    This sounds awesome. Will make for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Thank you so much. Also sharing on FB.

  5. Annie

    I always use xylitol in my recipes, but everytime i read those warnings, i’m afraid this could hurts human health too?!

    • James

      Hi Annie,

      Xylitol is not at all harmful to humans. Of course, use it with moderation (don’t use it more than you would with normal sugar in any case). If you are already adapted to eating xylitol (the guts need a couple of weeks to adjust to larger quantities), just have at it, 75% is not metabolized, and the remaining is slowly so, not triggering insulin spikes or high blood sugar levels. And the health benefits are many : dental and mouth health, bone density, candida yeast starving, etc.

      If you plan to offer some piece of cake with xylitol to family or friends that never ate it, make sure they get a small quantity only and warn them. There is NO harm in eating it, only slight gastric discomfort at the beginning if you are too enthusiastic about it :) My kids eat it regularly and they are just fine. I do as well but not as much due to my lower cab diet. Nothing bad to report.

    • Eva

      There’s a book which is called “the food additives” by Corinne Couget which list all E-numbers of additives in food. Xylitol is listed as E967 and the book says about it: “synthetic sweetener that years ago has been marked as canceregenous by FDA. Known risks for our health imply: metabolism diseases, kidney stones, nauseas, disruption of orientation, seizures and even death. This is considerably more serious than just nauseas and diarrhea which generally are being mentioned. You’d better avoid this.”

      (Am not native English)
      Instead of sweeteners, I use cocoflowersugar which has a low glycemic index, if using sugar at all.

    • Dr. Davis

      Clearly, Jill, she is of the “everything in moderation” crowd.

      Her comment about gluten, in particular, exposes her ignorance. I’m sure she means well, and I’m sure she is a nice person who treats her dog well. But she has only limited understanding of such things. This is the rule, not the exception, among the dietary community.

        • Boundless

          > I really don’t understand why that (“has only limited understanding”) should be so…

          The typical MD gets perhaps 2 semester hours on the role of nutrition in human health. This means that official medical association dogma on the topic is: food doesn’t matter much. So the fact that the endocrinologists, and lesser lights such as dieticians and nutritionists are off in weeds, and endorsing suicide diets, is of no importance, can’t be, dogma says so.

          Why did matters get like this? My guess is simple food history.

          For most of human existence, people ate whatever they could find, and lived 40 years.

          In the last 150 years, food choices exploded (including serious amounts of stuff that flat out didn’t exist previously), and life expectancy shot up to 70+. We must be eating right, eh? What if life expectancy went up, for other reasons, in spite of what we eating?

          Since the doctors weren’t paying attention, the lobbyists and their pet agencies enshrined food pyramids of what people were choosing. With no one to call for testing, or suggest a revealing protocol, no consideration was ever given to a clean-slate approach to what humans need to eat. The non-commissioned officers, like the babbling nutritionist above, generally parrot the party line.

          As is all too common in medicine, it is the rogue doctor who ends up sounding the alarm and leading the crusade.

  6. James

    Hi JlllOz,

    What I like about this blog post is the comprehensive list of sources and references to scientific studies, data, analyses and discussions, hehehe :D
    The person who posted that knows well the art of producing new clichés out of old clichés. I am quite impressed! :D

    Of course, she has some stuff right here and there but seems to miss some bigger picture or context, together with nuances. For example, after reading the book written by Volek and Phinney (The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living), I feel a bit more nuanced about my own eating habits as the book allows you to dive into some of the science behind, some even performed by the authors who are real experts in this field of research (nutrition and influence on metabolic processes and health effects). Anyway, I find this blog post another typical outburst of the “and-me-I-will-spit-this-because-I-am-pissed-off-about-what-I-ve-just-heard” kind.

    • JIllOz

      James, yes. I felt like asking her if she’s heard of Gary Taubes.
      Instead of explaining things she tries t pull this “we are professionals so we know best” attitude. Not very convincing in her writing.
      I heard her on the radio briefly, and she did a better job of non-patronising explanation.

  7. kat

    I made this dessert last night and it was sooooo good! I added a little lemon juice to the cream cheese mixture and only used about half the sugar called for in the topping/crust. Wonderful treat! I can think of lots of combinations to use for this crumble. =)

    • Dr. Davis

      Great, Kat!

      I argued with myself to go with the lemon or not go with the lemon. I’m thinking I should have gone with the lemon!

      • Trina

        I took this to my parents over the weekend and it was a huge hit. I did add lemon zest and juice to the filling. I think the lemon made it! It was a really nice complement to the cranberries.

  8. roadgeek

    Outstanding! Wonderful! Simply fantastic! My wife left out the molasses completely, and it wasn’t missed. She added half a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the filling.

    Oh, so good.

  9. Kathy

    We had this yesterday for Thanksgiving, and it got rave reviews! We might do it again for Christmas. Now I’m thinking about changing it up with almond flavoring in the cheese mixture and putting sour cherries in it instead of the apples. Thanks again for another great recipe.

  10. I made this and it turned out great though next time I’ll decrease the sugar. I used swerve.

    Dr Davis can you please help me? I quit smoking 5 weeks ago and I am gaining weight and I haven’t changed my eating…still wheat-free. I understand that the metabolism slows but how long before I am normal again??? I will not ever light up another cigarette but being 54 I surely don’t want to be fat!!! Any tips? I plan on “uping” my work outs but I work 2 jobs and don’t have the time to really make it to the classes I like. Help…anyone??? any foods or supplemets I can take? I think I’ll have to give up my daily glass of red wine too!

    • Dr. Davis

      Well, first of all, Diane, congratulations on giving up TWO addictions, the wheat and the cigarettes! Both ruin health, and giving up both at the same time is no small accomplishment.

      Second, the issues remain the same when you eliminate this appetite-stimulant and disrupter of metabolism called modern wheat but fail to lose weight. So see this extended discussion of this situation.

      • Thank you Dr. Davis. I had my thyroid checked out less then 4 months ago and it was fine. I believe it is from a sluggish metabolism due to me not smoking. I am going to keep a food and exercise diary for a few months and see what happens. I have cut down on dairy and I am only going to enjoy my red wine on Saturday’s for awhile.

  11. Gail

    My daughter made this for Thanksgiving. We did not find Xylitol in time so I bought Splenda Sugar Blend. She had no clue what that was and before I knew it she had made it using the same measurement as for sugar. It was fine. Next time I’ll cut back on the sweetness and maybe add more cranberries. They really popped with flavor and I wanted one in every bite!

      • kathy eldridge

        I have been using a sweetener called “Just Like Sugar”. 1cup of sugar =1 3/4cups of “Just Like Sugar”. However, I never use this much! For this recipe, I used about 1/2cup in the crumble mix along with substituting about a teaspoon or so of “Just Like Brown Sugar” for the molasses. Then I probably used 1/4cup “Just Like Sugar” in the filling. OMG! This is wonderful. I was expecting it to be a bit tangy using whole, fresh cranberries. What a surprise!

  12. I made this and it was wonderful. I used 4 or 5 apples, that was the only deviation. Since Xylitol has a ‘cool’ character to it’s sweetness, I thought maybe the Molasses might have toned that down some, in addition to it’s making a nice crumble ;-)
    Thanks for the recipe, this was is a definite keeper!
    * Pictures on website (my facebook photo page) or here in my sparkpeople blog:

  13. Sona

    OMG! The best crumble EVER! Beautifully moist and soooo delicious. I used 1/3 cup xylitol, and added 5 drops of Stevia. Thank you for sharing.

  14. cynthia

    Can’t wait for the cookbook! This is the 3rd dessert recipe I have tried and it’s another success! I served this last night after dinner to guests and everyone went back for more! Nobody could believe it was sugar free and wheat free. so moist and flavorful. Easy to make too! I’ll be trying the pizza crust recipe this week – looking forward to it since I haven’t been disappointed yet.