Is it really out of this world or what?
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cosmic crisp apple whole and sliced
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

A shiny new apple just hit the market with pie-in-the-sky promises, and who better to see if it lives up to the hype than the food-centric crew at Allrecipes. We recently taste-tested this brand-new wunderkind of the fruit world, and here's what we found.

The Apple

It's called a Cosmic Crisp — a hybrid of "Enterprise" and "Honeycrisp" apples that spent 20+ years in research and development at Washington State University. It was finally released this fall with a $10 million marketing launch and the taglines, "Imagine the Possibilities" and "The Apple of Big Dreams." So yeah. This apple was asking for it.

The Promise

The Cosmic Crisp is billed as a large, crisp, juicy, snappy, firm, sweet apple that is slow to brown after slicing, and has a shelf life of up to a year or more. Furthermore, the developers of Cosmic Crisp claim that the apple is so sweet, you can cut back on adding sugar when you use it for baking.

The Taste-Test Methodology

cosmic crisp apple taste test in the Allrecipes kitchen
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

To see how the Cosmic Crisp compared to other popular apple varieties, I set out 5 different red (or reddish) apples — both raw and baked. (The other apples were Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Gala, and Fuji — although I'm not here to get into the weeds on the relative merits of each variety.)

For the raw apples, I sliced them up just as the taste-test started so they'd be fresh. For the baked apples, I coated slices with equal amounts of cinnamon sugar, baked them on separate sheets at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, and timed the baking so they'd be ready to plate when the tasters arrived.

To get a good cross section of opinions from apple eaters, the taste-test was open to anyone who wanted to participate whether they're cooks or non-cooks. I asked participants to taste each apple both raw and cooked, and comment on flavor, texture, and anything else they found relevant. I also asked whether or not they'd purchase the apple, and whether or not they'd cook with it.

And of course, I didn't tell them which apple was which. But since Cosmic Crisp was in the news, they all figured it had to be one of the apples, so I asked them to guess which one it was.

The Results

Seventeen testers shared their comments on all five apples.

Raw: While the other apples got mixed reviews on crispness, sweetness, tartness, acidity, and flavor, the Cosmic Crisp results were almost unanimous in their praise. Comments included "high crunch," "sweet/tart," "low acid," "crisp," "super juicy," "great balance," and "great texture."

How did it look? "Dark red color looks like a 'perfect apple,' said one taster. "Now THIS is a perfectly balanced apple, excellent crunch, and that COLOR," raved another.

This taster summed up the raw Cosmic Crisp: "This apple has it all! Beauty, sweetness, tart without the sassy sour. Love its color, but is this the apple the Evil Witch poisoned Snow White with? New favorite apple? It's speckled like stars in the galaxy. This is totally the Cosmic Crisp apple!"

And was it slow to turn brown? Unfortunately, the slices were snapped up so quickly I couldn't tell. I'll let you be the judge.

Fourteen out of 17 tasters said they would purchase the Cosmic Crisp based on the raw tasting. There was one apple variety (that should probably remain unnamed for mercy's sake) which most tasters said they wouldn't purchase for eating raw.

Cooked: As with the raw apples, comments on the cooked apples were mixed. There was one apple (again, I hesitate to publicly shame it) that most tasters said they'd definitely NOT cook with.

Tasting notes on the cooked Cosmic Crisp included "firm, more tart when cooked," "meaty, good chewing," "juicy sweet," "nice crunch, holds its flavor," and "slightly baked pear-like sweetness." One taster said, "OMG this would make the perfect apple pie. Please stop me before I eat the rest of the bowl. I  would learn how to make an apple pie just for this."

But the cooked Cosmic Crisp also had its share of detractors. "Loses its flavor, otherwise it's fine. Would cook with it if that's what's handy." And for the most part, tasters thought the Cosmic Crisp was more tart when it was cooked, which is an interesting observation given the claim that you could cut back the sugar when you bake with it.

Eleven out of 17 tasters said they would cook with the Cosmic Crisp. Two said they might cook with it. One said they would not cook with it, and three had no opinion either way.

Conclusion

Fourteen out of 17 taste-testers correctly identified the Cosmic Crisp. Was it the intensely ruby-red skin? The "galaxy" of speckles? The decided crunch and sweetness? The fact that many of the other taste-testers were openly swooning over the look and taste of the apple? Whatever. I'm no research scientist.

But check it out: No other tested apples got the rhapsodic reviews the Cosmic Crisp inspired.

I have to conclude that the Cosmic Crisp just might be the new apple of my eye. Maybe yours, too.

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