Mini Cinnamon Sugar Fried Apple Pies with Salted Caramel Drizzle

November 21, 2014

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So yeah…I might still be a bit obsessed with deep frying things. First it was those Apple Cider Glazed Donuts and now it is these adorable Mini Cinnamon Sugar Fried Apple Pies.

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I think this recipe is just wonderful. It has so many of the things I love in it…like apples – my favourite fruit. And these apples…well they are entirely covered with that amazing Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce that I told you about earlier this Fall. Not to mention that they were first sauteed in a boozy butter/brown sugar/cinnamon mix before they met up with the caramel. And as if that wasn’t enough, they are then wrapped up in a buttery puff pastry, deep fried and then sprinkled quite liberally with Cinnamon Sugar. Get out of here! – Right?!!

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They are sooo tasty! And being the perfect individual pop-into-your-mouth two-bite size, they are completely irresistible. Folks gathered around the Thanksgiving table would certainly be delighted by their appearance, but these mini pies are great for any get together this Fall. Easy to pass around on an appetizer plate, but also easy to dress up a bit for a fun Fall dessert with an additional drizzle of Salted Caramel Sauce and a scoop of Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Dee-lish!

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Mini Cinnamon Sugar Fried Apple Pies

  • Servings: 10 pies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: half baked harvest

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces puff pastry
  • 4 Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon apple vinegar cider
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute in vanilla extract)
  • 10 teaspoons Salted Caramel Sauce plus more for garnish
  • 3 quarts oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

Chop the apples into thin slices. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When it’s melted, throw in the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and cook the apple slices, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are caramelized.

During the last minute, add the bourbon, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla. Cook for another minute, then remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.

If needed, roll out your pastry dough so that it’s 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into 3-inch circles. Divide the apple filling among half of the pastry rounds. Top each mound of apples with 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Salted Caramel Sauce.

Place the remaining rounds over top of the apples (you may need to stretch the dough to help it fit over the apples). Crimp the edges of the pies with the tines of a fork. 

Heat a pot of oil to 350° F. Fry the pies in the hot oil for about 30 seconds on each side, until they are golden brown. Place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain.

Mix together the cinnamon and the sugar and use it to dust each pie.

Serve all on their own or with a big scoop of Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream drizzled with Salted Caramel Sauce. Have Mercy!

Mini Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Fried Apple Pies brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

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Apple Cider Glazed Donut Bread Pudding with Maple Butter Rum Sauce

November 14, 2014

 

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Yes. You did read that recipe title correctly. It does indeed say Apple Cider Glazed Donut Bread Pudding. And yeah, I doesn’t stop there, it then adds the phrase  “with Maple Butter Rum Sauce”. I can hardly believe it myself and I actually made the dish, which I can tell you is exactly as amazing as you might imagine. Perhaps even more so. I found myself just staring at the husband in some sort of a donut bread pudding induced stupor and saying “this is really good”…”no..I mean this is really good!” over and over. This might actually be the best bread pudding I’ve ever had.

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So I know I just told you about how I went a bit mad with the deep-fryer earlier in the week and fried up a big batch of Apple Cider Glazed Donuts. Well the husband and I polished off quite a few of them as soon as they hit the cooling and rack and I immediately sent a fresh batch over to the neighbors. Yet, we still had quite a few of those little devils lurking about the kitchen. It was then that I remembered seeing a recipe at Sift & Whisk for a Cinnamon Sugar Donut Bread Pudding and knew just what I was going to do. And boy oh boy was I glad I did!

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Any type of donut you have on hand will work here, the cake type or the yeast risen type. And I suppose you don’t need to go all crazy like I did and make all the donuts yourself. (Though you really should…) You could go to one of those lovely Farmer’s Markets, or even your local bakery, and simply buy a dozen. But believe you me, you do want to make this pudding!

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Warm, comforting, apple-y, maple-y Fall bliss! I absolutely loved the tiny bits of apple added into the mix. And that Maple Butter Rum Sauce? It is divine! How could it not be? It’s got Maple Syrup, butter and Rum in it! I could probably just lap that up all on its own. The husband, who adores Bread Pudding, was completely over the moon with this dish. He didn’t hesitate to declare it the best he’d ever eaten. And I wager you’ll say the same. I mean come on…lets just say it again. Apple Cider Glazed Donut…Bread Pudding…with Maple Butter Rum Sauce. And there you have it!

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Apple Cider Glazed Donut Bread Pudding with Maple Butter Rum Sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy once you have the stale donuts on hand
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Sift and Whisk

Ingredients:

For the Bread Pudding:

  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large Honeycrisp apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch cubes (or whatever type apple you prefer)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or sub in vanilla extract if you don’t have the paste)
  • 1 Tablespoon boiled cider (optional – but it will really kick up that apple flavour!)
  • 8 stale Apple Cider glazed donuts, cut into cubes (or whatever stale donuts you have on hand)

For the Maple Butter Rum Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 -2 Tablespoons dark rum
  • Demerara sugar for sprinkling over the top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons (55 grams) of butter over medium-high heat. Add apple cubes and 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar and cook until apples are soft and translucent, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together remaining 1 cup (200 grams) sugar, eggs, egg yolk, cream, vanilla paste and boiled cider until smooth. Add donut cubes and cooked apples and gently toss to coat. Let soak for 5 – 10 minutes, occasionally turning the mixture gently so that all of those donut cubes get a good soaking.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Brush a 9×9-inch (or similar sized – I used a gratin dish) baking pan with ½ tablespoon of butter. Pour bread pudding into the pan and distribute evenly. Drizzle remaining ½ tablespoon of butter over the top of the pudding. Sprinkle a bit of Demerara sugar over the top.

Place Bread Pudding Pan in a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with water until it comes half way up the sides of the Pudding pan. ( I suppose this is optional. The original recipe which I adapted did not use a water bath. However, when baking bread puddings I always do. Likely because my Mom did. But I have read that a water bath ensures the custard will not curdle and that the top of the pudding will remain moist and tender. All of which sound good to me…so I persist.)

Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until custard is set up. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve with Maple Butter Rum Sauce.

For the Maple Butter Rum Sauce:

In a small saucepan, combine maple syrup and butter and heat over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add the brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Cook for 30 seconds, then remove from heat and stir in rum. Drizzle over warm bread pudding.

Enjoy!

Apple Cider Glazed Donut Bread Pudding with Maple Butter Rum Sauce brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


Apple Cider Donut Cake

November 7, 2014

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I warned you didn’t I? Here we go now with the first of what may prove to be a parade of Fall-time apple-y goodness…Apple Cider Donut Cake! Whaaat? Yup….Apple. Cider. Donut. Cake. Could I have crammed any more deliciousness into that recipe title? I’ve already told you how I love apples. And Apple Cider…especially the type that is a bit more medicinal…if you know what I’m saying…is exciting. Donuts! Who doesn’t love cinnamon sugar laden apple cider donuts?! Well you get all of those mouthwateringly yummy flavours all wrapped up in one gorgeous big old bundt cake.

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This cake is amazingly moist and tender, just bursting with apple flavour. It would be delicious simply unadorned, but it is completely over the top when brushed with some boozy cider glaze and dusted, quite liberally with crunchy cinnamon sugar.

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It is great anytime of the day, for breakfast, tea-time snack, dessert or even when eaten in the dark in the middle of the night while everyone else is sleeping. What? Like you haven’t done that?

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And I must say, this cake is a breeze to make. I love Apple Cider Donuts, let there be no doubt. But a gotta say, they are a bit fiddly to make, what with the rising and the frying etc. Definitely a labour of love. Now, this cake will lead folks to believe you slaved away all day….when really you were outside enjoying the beautiful Fall weather. And I won’t tell them otherwise. Mum’s the word.

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Apple Cider Donut Cake

  • Servings: 15 -18 slices - depending on how you cut them
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Two In the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider *(see information below)
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (you can substitute vegetable oil – but coconut tastes better!)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste (can substitute in extract if you don’t have paste…put get some paste, you won’t regret it!)

For the Cider Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup hard cider *(see below for substitutions)

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spray a bundt pan with baking spray. (Recently I have had a couple of folks mention that they haven’t had much success with the baking spray saying that the cake stuck to the pan. Then I recently experienced the same thing myself. When I made the cake again the following day and greased the pan with butter & flour and the cake came out perfectly. Don’t know why this is, but just thought I’d share.)

In a medium saucepan, bring chopped apples and cider to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until apples are fork tender. About 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cool for a few minutes, then pulse in a food processor or blender until pureed. Measure out 1 cup apple mixture and stir the milk into it. Set the apple/milk mixture aside for later. (As for the remaining cider/apple puree, it is left over. I usually save it and put it over yogurt, or oatmeal. It is also fabulous heated slightly and drizzled over ice cream.)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the oil and mix well. CAUTION: If you are planning on using coconut oil, make sure those eggs are at room temperature or slightly warmer if your house is chilly. If the eggs are cold and you add coconut oil to the mixture, the coconut oil will solidify and you will end up with a clumpy mess!

Add the flour mixture and apple/milk mixture alternatively in three additions, scraping the bowl as needed and mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat once more, just to combine.

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the cake in its pan on a cooling rack for ten minutes before removing the cake itself to a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

While cake is baking, prepare Cider Glaze. Melt butter, sugar and water over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the cider, stirring to combine.

Place baking sheet under wire rack. Using a pastry brush or marinate brush, cover cake with glaze. I usually do this in several passes, letting one application of glaze sink in and then going back over the cake with another.

Prepare the Cinnamon Sugar Coating. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle the warm, glazed cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto the sides of the cake. (I usually place my cinnamon sugar mixture in an empty spice bottle, or salt shaker and then sprinkle it over the cake.)

*Since I originally posted this recipe, I have had quite a few questions about hard cider vs. fresh cider. So let me just start out by saying fresh cider is the juice from pressed apples. It is unfiltered and often appears cloudy. Unless you buy it directly from an orchard it has likely also been pasteurized. Hard Cider occurs when unpasteurized fresh cider is allowed to ferment. It becomes carbonated and alcoholic. This cider can be found wherever beer is sold. Now as far as substitutions: If you do not wish to use hard cider in the glaze, you can substitute in fresh cider. However, fresh cider is often sweeter than hard cider and the glaze will be a bit sweeter, but still delicious I’m sure. You can also just leave the cider out of the glaze, which would then just be a sweet buttery glaze, but lack apple flavor. Another possibility for a substitution that lacks alcohol, but still gives you an intense apple flavor is boiled cider. Boiled Cider is fresh cider which has been boiled down to produce an intensely flavored apple cider syrup. I have provided a link below if you wish to try that ingredient. I always use hard cider for my glaze, so I’m not sure how much boiled cider you should use as a substitution. I would start with 1/2 Tablespoon and taste it until it reaches your desired level of apple-y goodness.

Enjoy!

Apple Cider Donut Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Apple Cider Donut Cake:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Microplane Grate & Shake Nutmeg Grater

Oxo Silicone Pastry Brush

Nordic Ware Bundt Cake Pan

Oxo Dusting Wand for Sugar

Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste

Boiled Cider

 

 

 


Caramel Apple & Irish Whiskey Clafoutis

March 8, 2014

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Have mercy! Is it the weekend yet? I’ve got just the perfect weekend lazing around and drinking early brunch dish for you. A Caramel Apple & Irish Whiskey Clafoutis! Wowzers right?!! A clafoutis is a french dessert that consists of baked fruit (usually cherries) in a flan like batter. I found this wonderful whiskey splashed Irish twist on that classic French dish over at Edible Ireland  (love that site! – great recipes, beautiful photography – what more could you want)and just couldn’t wait to make it. (as if the weekend could mosey on up any slower…)

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Now I know of few of you folks out there are probably smirking and thinking “Yeah, so much for her lazy weekend if she was making some sort of French thing, which you just know has to be time-consuming, complicated and annoying!” Oh I am so happy to say that you would be wrong. This dish, impressive – yet rustic – as it looks was quite easy to make and delicious to boot!

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But if you’re still being a doubter, perhaps you would perk up a bit knowing that you can make the apple caramel mixture up the night before. That way when the weekend arrives, you won’t have to spend one more extra precious moment than necessary “slaving away” in the kitchen. You just heat the apples up, mix up the batter, add the apples in and pop it into the oven . Easy peasy. Then you can just sit around sipping your mimosa (or Buck’s Fizz). Before you know it that decadent brunch treat will be ready and your weekend will be off to a fantastic whiskey-caramel-apple-y start!

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Caramel Apple & Irish Whiskey Clafoutis

recipe from: Edible Ireland

Ingredients:

for the batter:

  • 80 g (2/3 cup) flour
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder (optional – but it will keep the clafoutis from sinking as quickly when removed from the oven)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100 g (6 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

for the apples:

  • 30 g (2 tablespoons) butter
  • 4 crisp eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 60 g (1/3 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons Irish whiskey*

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Butter a 25 cm (10 inch) pie plate or cast iron skillet or large individual ramekins.

To make the caramel apples, melt a knob of butter in a large pan over a medium-high heat. When it’s sizzling, reduce the heat to medium and tip in the apples, sugar and cinnamon, stirring to coat the apples in the butter and sugar. Cook the apples for about 5 minutes, until they have softened and the sugar has turned syrupy. Keep warm.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla. Pour half of the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking until it looks like a paste, then add in the rest of the liquid, whisking until the batter is smooth and well blended. (Alternatively, you could just place all the batter ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth.)

Place the pie plate or skillet on a baking sheet to catch any drips when the clafoutis is cooking in the oven. Pour in the batter, then using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to the plate or skillet, leaving as much of the caramel sauce in the pan as you can and making sure the apples are evenly distributed. Bake the clafoutis in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the clafoutis is puffed up and golden brown and the centre is set.

About 5 minutes before the clafoutis is done, reheat the caramel in the pan to loosen it again, then stir in the whiskey and allow to cook for 1 or 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Serve the clafoutis warm with the caramel whiskey sauce drizzled over.

*If you’ve had a “whiskey incident” and know you couldn’t smell, much less taste whiskey first thing in the morning, switch it out for some brandy or calvados.

** This is also a great dessert recipe. Just imagine serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with that caramel whiskey sauce. Yum!

Enjoy!

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Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread

December 8, 2012

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I know, I know. We’re getting close to the Christmas season and this Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread does have more of a Fall vibe to it, what with the apples and all. At least that is what you might think until you taste it. Then you will come to the realization that I did. This bread is so addictively delicious that it is appropriate, no…perhaps even required, any season of the year! Pull just one of the gooey, cinnamony, caramely, appley slices off  while it’s still warm from the oven and take a bite. You’ll see. It’s like one of those decadent cinnamon rolls, ‘cept better! And believe me, you won’t be able to stop with just one of the slices. No sir-ee. Before you know it, you’ll look down and find the loaf half gone and notice your britches seem to have suddenly shrunk as the top button pops off and shoots across the room. (I hear that fabric does tend to shrink when it gets colder.)

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It looks as though this recipe might be hard to make, what with all the steps, but it really comes together very easily. You don’t even have to worry about how you throw the cut dough pieces into the pan either. The bread is supposed to have that jumbled, rustic appearance. Not to mention, the basic Pull-Apart Bread of this recipe can be customized as well. Theresa at Craving Chronicles made a Peach Cinnamon & Brown Butter version. While Tracey at Tracey’s Culinary Adventures baked up a Cinnamon Sugar loaf. Get creative and come up with your own version. But you’ve gotta make this bread. And soon! You won’t be sorry!

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Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread

recipe from: Alaska from Scratch

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1/4 cup or more, if needed)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For the Apple Filling:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and diced

For the Caramel Glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

Directions:

To the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine warm water and yeast. Let sit for 5-8 minutes until foamy.

In a microwave-safe dish, heat milk and butter together until butter is just melted. Add vanilla to the mixture and set aside.

Add flour, sugar and salt on top of the yeast mixture in mixing bowl. Turn mixer on low and add eggs, one at a time, until combined. Slowly stream the milk/butter/vanilla mixture into the bowl until a soft dough forms. Add extra flour by the tablespoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. Turn mixer up to medium and knead the dough for 3 minutes. Remove dough from mixer bowl and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let dough rise in a warm place for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. Peel, core and dice the apple. Melt butter just before the dough has completed its rise. Grease a standard 9×5″ loaf pan.

Once risen, punch down dough, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll dough out into a large rectangle (roughly 12×24 inches). Dough will be fairly thin. Brush melted butter over top of dough. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 6 equal strips. Sprinkle about 1/6 of diced apples over one strip of dough, then stack another strip of dough on top. Repeat adding the apple mixture and stacking dough strips with remaining dough. Cut stacked strips into 6 equal stacks of squares. Stuff stacked squares vertically into prepared 9×5 loaf pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 30-45 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat over to 350ºF. Bake about 35-45 minutes, or until no longer doughy in the center (bread should register 190ºF on an instant thermometer in the center when done). If bread starts to get too brown before it’s ready, cover loosely with foil and continue baking.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by adding the butter, brown sugar and milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Turn loaf out onto a rack with parchment paper under it. Drizzle load with the warm caramel glaze.

Enjoy!


Chicken, Apples and Cream a la Normande with Lemon-Steamed Spinach

November 16, 2012

Good Grief! It has been over one month since I last posted!! I would love to say something like “Time flies when you’re having fun”. I would like to tell you that I won a squillion (squillion = much more than one million) dollars and I was busy trying to find ways to spend it. Or maybe that I was a spy for the CIA and that espionage took up a whole heck of a lot of time. Or that I was just out living it up and having boat loads of fun. But believe you me, I have decidedly NOT been having fun. When I last left you, I believe I was apologizing for not posting for a while (hmmm….this seems to be becoming a habit…) because I had been on holiday in Ireland and was a bit jet lagged. Well, I caught some sort of crud on that plane coming home. I remember sitting on that flying hospital ward and thinking to myself that it would be a miracle if I didn’t get sick, cause everyone around me was hacking and wheezing non-stop for the eight-hour flight. Don’t you know it, about 4-5 days after getting home, wham! I got smacked with some cold. And it wasn’t one of those little annoying things that you can go basically go about your normal business with, albeit with a box of tissues in tow. No it was a bear of a thing. Grizzly, not black bear. I used so many tissues I was sad I didn’t own stock in the Kleenex company! Just when I about had that one kicked, and was ready to dive into blogging again, we lost power for 3 days with Hurricane Sandy. And then, KAPOW! Another coldy/virusy thing descended upon me. I know I said the last one was a bear, well this one was essentially Godzilla! It totally body slammed me to the floor and proceeded to do some sort of celebratory dance all over my prone body. Seriously, it was bad news. And then, apparently I was in the sharing mood, cause I passed it on over to my poor unsuspecting husband, whose usual immune system of steel was unable to protect him from this nightmare. So, I’m sure you can see, there hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot of “fun” going on around here! The good news is, we both seem to be on the road to recovery. I’d appreciate it if everyone would cross their fingers (and perhaps toes) for us at this point!

So enough of our trials and tribulations for now. Please accept my apology for the disappearing act. I’ve finally re-emerged with a lovely Fall recipe, Chicken, Apples and Cream à la Normande, from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. This dish doesn’t have a whole ton of ingredients, mainly just chicken breasts, mushrooms apples, cream and Calvados (an apple brandy from Northern France), but it tastes wonderfully decadent! It also looks quite fancy, but it very easy to make. I served mine on a bed of Lemon-Steamed Spinach which paired perfectly with the apples and cream sauce.

Great for a romantic dinner for two and impressive enough to serve at a larger dinner party. And it has apples in it, which are good for you. You know what they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”…too bad I didn’t think of that about a month ago!  🙂

Chicken, Apples and Cream à la Normande

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour, for dredging
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves at room temperature
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 8 mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean, thinly sliced and slices cut crosswise in half
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Calvados, apple jack or brandy
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Put some flour on a plate and season it with salt and pepper. Pat the chicken pieces dry and run them through the flour, coating both sides lightly and tapping off the excess.

Put a large deep skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each butter and oil. When the butter is melted, slip the chicken into the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, to brown the undersides, then turn over and cook for 3 minutes more.

If you’re low on butter and oil, add a little more now, then toss in the apple, onion and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and turn the new additions around so that they’re well mixed and glossy with butter and oil. Cook for 1 minute, then pour in the broth. When the broth bubbles, reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked through.

Turn the heat up again, pour in the Calvados and boil until it’s almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the cream and keeping the heat on high, cook until the cream reduces by about one quarter, a matter of a few minutes. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper. arrange the chicken on a dish or on a bed of steamed spinach if you wish, pour sauce over it.

Lemon Steamed Spinach

ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lbs. (two 10 oz. bags) baby spinach – cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Have your steamer set up and ready to go. Put the spinach in a bowl and toss it with 1 tablespoon of the oil, the zest and salt and pepper to taste. Taste for seasoning and if the spinach looks dry, add some or all of the remaining olive oil.

Turn the spinach into the pot, cover and steam for 3 minutes. Turn spinach and cook for another minute or two until it is tender. The spinach should be served as soon as it’s cooked.

Enjoy and stay healthy!


Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes

October 16, 2012

So Hello again! I know it has been awhile since I’ve posted anything and you may have been wondering what ever had happened to me. At least I hope someone has noticed my absence and I haven’t just been yammering away into some sort of online oblivion. I’m actually just back from a truly fantastic holiday in Ireland.

I will definitely be telling ya’ll a bit more about that as soon as I can get myself back into some sort of routine. You know how it is post holiday…However, I wrote this blog on Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes right before I was ready to leave for my trip. You see, I told myself I would have all of these posts done before I left and then I would just post remotely. Welllll…..that didn’t work. Seems I was sort of busy with everything else before leaving and did not manage to have several blog posts ready to go. I did manage to get this one written and have shaken off enough of my jet lag to add in the appropriate pictures, along with this disclaimer. But I’m certain I will get it together soon and be back to my old blogging habits. Until then, please take a peek at these lovely Fall Cupcakes.

Happy, happy, happy!!! Fall has arrived! Of course, here in Virginia the weather can’t seem to let go of those Summer temps. We’ll have one nice crisp day followed by a sticky, humid mess of a day. But I know Summer is on its way out, so I’m in a good mood. And Apples are in season! Apples are my favourite fruit, so I’ve got some great apple dishes in store for ya’ll! I thought I’d start it all off with these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes.

My husband just recently celebrated a birthday and he requested these cupcakes in lieu of a big birthday cake. He tends to prefer the fruit desserts over any sort of chocolate concoction, so these cinnamon cupcakes, stuffed with apple pie filling, topped with salted caramel swiss buttercream frosting and drizzled with salted caramel sauce, seemed just perfect. I was excited to make them as well, since I myself love apples and have an obsession with cupcakes. However, my glee soon came to a screeching halt. I thought making up a batch of cupcakes would be a cinch. But it turned out to be anything but. Things started to go bad with the making of the salted caramel. First attempt = failure. A big, burnt, lumpy, sticky, smoky failure. Hmmm…I hadn’t ever had trouble making caramel before. I decided to give it another go. And…another failure! What was going on? Are my stars misaligned today? Trying to stay calm, I chose a different caramel recipe and told myself “third times the charm”. Not in this house! Another mess!! But I’m nothing if not stubborn, so I kept at it! You know…to the bitter end. Well to cut this long pitiful story short, after eventually getting the caramel right only to suffer an icing melt down, I was finally able to produce these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes.

I finished them at 11:58 p.m., so technically it was still my husband’s birthday. I promptly woke him up to have a bite of these little devils so that he would actually be able to say honestly that he had cupcakes on his birthday. Phew! But don’t worry, the recipe I have listed below, though cobbled together from a couple of sources is fool-proof. (and genuinely tested by a fool so I can tell you true!) You won’t end up like me, I promise. And these cupcakes are truly delicious. Just the thing to get you in the Fall mood.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes

recipe from: Craving Chronicles and Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Apple Pie Filling: (From Craving Chronicles)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1.5 pounds (approx.) Honey Crisp apples (about 4 medium), peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apples, sugars, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook until apples are tender and release their juices – about 10 minutes. In a small bowl or glass, combine cornstarch and water. Add to apples and stir, cooking until thickened. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. (Cover and refrigerate overnight if making ahead.)

For the Salted Caramel Sauce: (from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Directions:

Add the sugar, corn syrup and water to a medium saucepan and stir gently to combine. Set the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture registers 350 F on a candy thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer cook until the mixture is amber in color). Turn off the heat under the pan and slowly add the cream (the caramel will bubble up quite a bit so be mindful) then the fleur de sel. Stir in the sour cream until the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool before using – you could even refrigerate for a bit so it’s not quite as thin when you go to fill the cupcakes.

For the Cinnamon Cupcakes: (From Craving Chronicles who adapted it from Annie’s Eats)

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat eggs and sugar until thick ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Add flour mixture and beat on low just until incorporated. Add milk mixture and vanilla, and beat until blended.

Divide evenly among baking tins. Bake at 350°F for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream: (From Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6-8 tablespoon salted caramel sauce

Directions:

Add the butter to a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter on medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy, stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and sugar. Whisk to combine. Place the mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water, and, whisking constantly, heat until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved. You can test by rubbing a bit between your fingers – it shouldn’t feel gritty at all.

Put the bowl on the mixer, and starting on low and gradually increasing the speed to medium-high, beat the egg white mixture until stiff, glossy peaks form – this will take about 8-10 minutes, and the bowl should feel cool to the touch when you’ve finished. Reduce the mixer to medium-low speed, and gradually add the butter, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

With the mixer still on medium-low, gradually add 6 tablespoons of the salted caramel sauce, and continue beating until it is completely incorporated. Taste the frosting, and if you want a stronger caramel flavor, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce.

Cupcake Assembly Instructions:

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, hollow out a bit of the center of each cake. You can do this with a small paring knife, an apple corer or a special cupcake corer tool. Fill each hole with cooled Apple Pie Filling. Pipe Salted Caramel Buttercream onto each cupcake. Drizzle with cooled Salted Caramel Sauce.

Enjoy!


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