In Season: Ample apples

Everybody’s favorite dessert for Rosh Hashana includes apples. Here are three more to add to your list.

By
September 26, 2011 23:43
Apple cake.

Apple pie 311. (photo credit: AMY SPIRO)

 
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Rosh Hashana is a holiday that is not short on traditional desserts. A sweet and spiced honey cake is de rigueur in most households, as well as just about any apple dish. Apple pies and apple cakes are the two most popular desserts to serve during this season, but there are endless ways to utilize the sweet, crunchy fruit that symbolizes a sweet new year.

Though apples are delicious just as a snack, poaching them in some wine adds a whole new depth of flavor and is a delicious accompaniment to ice cream. Throw some spices like cinnamon and cloves into the wine for extra taste.

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You can peel and core apples and wrap each one in a square of phyllo pastry with a touch of sugar and cinnamon before sealing up the tops and baking for a cute little apple “parcel.”

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You can also peel and slice apples, spread them in a baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and top with a crumble topping – one part butter or margarine to two parts flour and two parts sugar. Add a handful of chopped nuts if you desire.

Bake until golden.

While everyone has their favorite varieties of apples, apples with a firm flesh, which tend to be green or yellow skinned, hold up better in cooking or baking.



Granny Smith, Gala and Golden Delicious are excellent baking varieties, while Red Delicious or Starking apples are better for simply enjoying fresh.

These recipes offer slightly new ways to enjoy the classic Rosh Hashana fruit – from the simple to the complex. The galette is the perfect showcase for the most beautiful apples. With slices of fruit arranged in a simple tart dough and brushed with some jam to give it a glaze, this elegant dish is both beautiful and tasty, letting the apples shine.

The apple cake with a topping of brown sugar meringue brings the classic cake to new heights. With grated apples instead of chunks, the flavor is sweet and subtle in every bite. The crisp, toasted meringue topping is a wonderful complement to the cake and a welcome addition for anyone with a sweet tooth.

The caramel apple pie cookies require you to clear a couple of hours in your schedule, but the end result will impress everyone. Ever heard of deep-dish pizza? Well, these are deep-dish cookies filled with apples, caramel and a hint of bourbon.

The soft tart shell encases sweet, cinnamon- and-bourbon-spiced apples and a touch of sticky caramel.

These will provide a sweet new year to one and all.


Apple Galette

The key to this galette, which is French for a flat or free-form tart, is the dough.

Work the dough well on a counter top before refrigerating it for an hour. Then roll it out to a large rectangle and either roll or fold up the sides to create a sturdy border to hold the filling inside.

Dough:

✔ 2 cups flour
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. sugar
✔ 3⁄4 cup butter or margarine, very cold
✔ 7 to 9 Tbsp. ice water

Topping:

✔ 3 to 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
✔ 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
✔ 1⁄4 cup sugar
✔ 3 Tbsp. apple jelly (I used apricot), microwaved until smooth.

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Dice the butter and sprinkle it over the flour.

Cut the butter into the flour until it becomes coarse crumbs. Add the water, about 1 Tbsp. at a time, continuing to mix until small curds form. Turn the dough crumbs out onto a floured counter and use the heel of your hand to smear the dough against the counter until all the crumbs have been worked. Gather it all together and wrap it in plastic, then refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll the dough out on a piece of parchment paper to 40x30 cm. Roll each edge of the dough up to create a 2-cm. border.

Slice the apples into pieces about 1⁄3 cm. thick.

Starting in one corner, shingle the slices, overlapping each about 1⁄3, until the dough is covered. Dice the butter into tiny pieces and sprinkle over the apples, then sprinkle the sugar on top. Bake at 200ºC for 45 to 60 minutes until the apples have caramelized.

Remove from the oven and brush the apples with the jelly. Let cool. Store loosely covered with plastic wrap.


Apple cake with brown sugar meringue:

The meringue requires slight heating to incorporate the sugar into the eggs. The classic way to accomplish this is through a bain marie, or double boiler. While there are special tools sold for this purpose, you can use a metal or glass bowl on top of just simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl, or the mixture will overheat.

Topping:

✔ 2 large egg whites
✔ 11⁄2 cups packed brown sugar
✔ 2 Tbsp. water Cake
✔ 1⁄2 cup butter or margarine, softened
✔ 1 cup packed brown sugar
✔ 2 egg yolks
✔ 1 tsp. baking soda
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ 1 tsp. cinnamon
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
✔ 2 large apples, peeled and grated
✔ 2 cups flour
✔ 1⁄2 cup raisins (optional)

Place egg whites, brown sugar and water in the bottom of a glass or metal bowl.

Place the bowl over a pot of just simmering water, making sure it does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Over high heat, beat with an electric mixer until peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined. Stir in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, grated apple and raisins if using. Fold in the flour until just combined – don’t overmix.

Spoon batter into greased 23x23 cm. baking pan. Spread meringue evenly over the top. Bake at 175ºC for 35 to 45 minutes.


Caramel apple pie cookies:

There are three steps to making these cookies: the dough, the apple filling and the caramel. If you’re pressed for time or intimidated by the caramel, you can skip it and still have delicious cookies. You can use store-bought caramel instead.

Filling:

✔ 1 large or 2 small apples
✔ 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
✔ 1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
✔ 1 Tbsp. bourbon (can substitute vanilla extract)
✔ 2 tsp. cornstarch
✔ 1 Tbsp. water

Crust:

✔ 11⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
✔ 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
✔ 2⁄3 cup butter or margarine, cubed and kept cold
✔ 1 tsp. vanilla
✔ 2 Tbsp. milk

Caramel:

✔ 1 cup sugar
✔ 6 Tbsp. butter*
✔ 1⁄2 cup heavy cream*

Peel and core the apple(s). Dice into small pieces, about 1⁄2 cm. Mix the sugar, butter and cinnamon together. Add the apple pieces and place in a skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft but still hold their shape. Turn off the heat and add the bourbon.

Return the pan to low heat. Mix the water and cornstarch together, then add to the skillet and stir until slightly thickened.

Turn off heat and let cool.

Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle the butter on top and use a food processor or fork to cut it into the dry ingredients until evenly mixed.

Add the vanilla and milk and pulse until the dough comes together. Press balls of the dough in to the bottom of a greased mini-muffin pan. Press the dough up the sides of the pan.

Divide the apple mixture among the 24 cups – about 1⁄2 Tbsp. in each (you can top them up later if needed). Bake at 175ºC for 25 minutes.

Carefully heat the sugar over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottom skillet. Stir very slowly and gently until the whole mixture is liquid and dark brown. Add in the butter and whisk until melted. Turn off the heat, count to five, then pour in the cream, whisking constantly until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes, then carefully spoon 1 tsp. or so over the cookies.

You will likely have spare caramel – find a use for it! Note: If substituting non-dairy ingredients such as margarine and non-dairy cream or soy milk, use 1⁄2 the stated amount, as their water content is much higher.

Amy Spiro is a widely published food writer, reporter and blogger. She is currently a pastry student at the Jerusalem Culinary Institute.

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