Sunday, March 14, 2010

Apple Mess

A few months ago, Amy made a baked apple dish that she got somewhere off the internet. It was for baked apples stuffed with dates and pecans, and it was a disaster. There was too much filling, it oozed out of the apples, and turned into a sloppy mess at the bottom of the pan. The thing is, it was delicious. It tasted like pecan pie with apples, only better. She tried the recipe a few weeks later the right way, and it was picture perfect with the filling staying nicely in the cored apples, but nowhere near as tasty.

So, this Friday, Amy didn't want to make dessert and I was on my own. Dedicated readers of this blog will note that I have few dessert recipes, so this is not really my field. I didn't want to make a fruit crisp, our meat meal (Uighur lamb stew) default. It thought that I would try to reproduce the baked apple dish the time she got it all wrong. I didn't even try to keep the apples whole and just sort of tossed everything together. It was a big hit and VERY easy.

I would call this a crisp, but it wasn't crisp at all. I am not sure what to call it, so I welcome your suggestions in the comments (this is a not so subtle way to encourage someone other than my niece to comment on my blog). Here it is:

Apple Mess

  • 4 large baking apples (I used Rome)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you have)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried dates (pitted of course)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Calvados or applejack (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted pareve margerine or butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • a pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel the apples, quarter them, remove the cores, and cut into lengthwise slices. Put into a lightly greased baking dish that will hold all the apples with some room for the goop. A 7x10 inch pyrex dish worked nicely.
  3. Mix the other ingredients. Pour over the apples. It will all sink to the bottom.
  4. Bake 15 minutes and then mix the apples well to coat with the goop.
  5. Bake another 15 minutes and mix the apples well to coat with the goop.
  6. Bake another half hour.
  7. Best served hot or warm, and keeps well for a while in a low oven. Serve with coconut sorbet or vanilla ice cream. Also nice drizzled with a little more Calvados or applejack.
  8. Serves 6 nicely.

Why the peculiar method? When you pour in the liquid mixture it will all sink to the bottom, except for a few piece of dates and pecans. Unless you mix it, the apples on top will cook without flavoring, and the nuts and dates on top will scorch. I found that mixing twice in the first half hour redistributes both apples and goop so that the apples glaze nicely and nothing is left on the top to burn. The goop becomes sort of custardy and isn't all left on the bottom.

Why coconut sorbet and pareve margerine? This is for Andrew who wanted to know about the Jewish holiday called shiva where people sit around in the morning. If you are separating milk and meat, you don't want to make a dessert with butter or serve it with ice cream. Pareve products contain no meat or dairy and are fine after a meat meal. The problem is that most really good desserts are dairy. You could just as easily make this with butter and serve it with real ice cream, but frankly, there are so many good dairy desserts around that why would you want to? The nice thing about fruit crisps and this apple mess is that you won't miss the butter and ice cream and can eat it happily after a meat meal.

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