A Tale of Two Apple Butters – Tipsy Sweet & Drunken Granny

November 14, 2011

Did I mention that apples were my favourite fruit? Yup, they sure are and they are now in season! My favourites are the apples that are very crisp. I really hate a mushy apple (sorry Red Delicious… you are right out! ) I prefer Honey Crisps, Jonagolds, Winesaps…. you get the picture.

There’s plenty to choose from at the markets now and I am in heaven! I have never made Apple Butter, so bolstered by my recent preserve making successes, I decided there was no time like the present and got to it. I read over the River Cottage Preserves Handbook and decided to use their recipe for Cider Apple Butter, but with a bunch of extra spices and some extra booze thrown in. No not Jack Daniels, but I can understand why you might have guessed that particular spirit. I used a bit of Calvados that I happened to have on hand. I also used Hornsby’s Cider which is a dry hard cider. The “dry” bit that I’m referring to means that in most of the natural sugar has been fermented out as the cider is made. Other brands of dry cider easily available include Woodchuck or Strongbow. If you wanted to use a non-alcoholic cider, remember that you will likely need to reduce the overall amount of sugar in the recipe, due to the sweetness of the unfermented cider.

For my first batch ( yes there will be a second…hence the tale of two butters thing in the title) of hard cider apple butter, I used my favourite Honey Crisp apples.The apple butter was very easy to make. The most difficult bit was all of the paring and coring in the beginning. I guess if you have a food mill or sieve to strain the cooked mixture through, you don’t even have to worry about doing that prep work and can remove the peels and seed etc. after cooking. I decided that it would be easier to just spend a bit of time with the apples beforehand. It was worth the effort. My Tipsy Sweet Apple Butter has a great flavour and perfect spreading consistency.

I must say though, this batch was really sweet. I know, I know…its Apple Butter, which is generally sweet. But I thought I might like a more tart version. Since the butter was so easy to make, I got to work straight away on my second batch, in which I used Granny Smith apples.

These apples are not an apple I would reach for if I was just eating one for a snack. But I knew they have the more tart flavour that I was looking for. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 2/3 cup per cup of apple pulp to 1/2 cup sugar per apple pulp. The only other change to the recipe was that I went a wee bit heavier with the cinnamon and upped it to a full teaspoon. This Drunken Granny Apple Butter was exactly what I was looking for. Great flavour, but not as sweet as my Tipsy Sweet variety. I decided to include both recipes since I know everyone’s taste varies and this will give you some options.

So I’m counting my apple butter making foray a success. We do have quite a bit of the stuff now (look out friends and family…there may be some Christmas Apple Butter coming your way), but we’ve been steadily using it up. We’ve been eating it on toast, in oatmeal, straight out of the jar.

And oh…I was inspired to make some lovely biscuits to spread it over.

Stand by for that Peter Reinhart biscuit recipe…it’s a winner. But I don’t know which one was the star of the show, the biscuit or the scrumptious apple butter. Hmmm….let me take a few more bites and I’ll consider. 🙂

Tipsy Sweet & Drunken Granny Hard Cider Apple Butters

yield: Five 8 oz. jars

ingredients for Tipsy Sweet:

  • 3 lbs. 6 ounces of Honey Crisp Apples, peeled and cored
  • 2 1/2  Cups Dry Hard Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Calvados Apple Brandy
  • Turbinado Sugar – 2/3 cup per cup of apple pulp
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

ingredients for Drunken Granny:

  • 3 lbs. 6 ounces of Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cored
  • 2 1/2  Cups Dry Hard Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Calvados Apple Brandy
  • Turbinado Sugar – 1/2 cup per cup of apple pulp
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Fill a large pot with tap water. Submerge five 1/2 pint (8 ounce) jars and their lids, making sure they are completely covered by the water. Boil the water.

Wash, peel and core the apples. Chop them into big pieces. Place in a large pan with the cider, 1/2 cup of apple brandy and 2 cups of water. Cook gently until soft, then remove from heat.

Drain liquid from apples. Place softened apples in blender or food processor to puree. Measure the volume of fruit pulp and return it to the pan. Add 2/3 cup sugar if you’re making Tipsy Sweet or 1/2 cup sugar if you’re making Drunken Granny (I used turbinado, but you can use granulated if you prefer) for every one cup of apple pulp. Add the cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice and vanilla bean to the apple pulp and stir to combine.

Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then turn the heat up to bring mixture to a rapid boil for 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Remove vanilla bean prior to placing in jars.

Remove from heat and ladle apple butter into sterilized jars. Using tongs, pick up the full jam jars and place them back into the boiling water for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove the jars and place them on the towel. As they cool, you should hear a ping type noise which tells you the jam jars are sealed. When you push down in the center of the top of the jar, there should be no click noise. Make sure the lids are sealed tightly. Once jars have been opened, refrigerate.

Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Pie Ebelskivers filled with Vanilla Whipped Cream Cheese

November 10, 2011

Just in time for the decadent food-laden Thanksgiving Holiday, here you have a delicious recipe for Pumpkin Pie Ebelskivers filled with Vanilla Whipped Cream Cheese. “Ebelskivers?” you may ask. Ebelskivers are round pancakes which originated in Denmark and are perfect for breakfast, appetizers or snacks. You will of coarse need one special piece of equipment to make these goodies-namely the Ebelskiver Pan. My husband received one for his birthday a couple of years ago. The ebelskiver turners, long, carved wooden sticks, are great to have, but you could possibly get by with chopsticks, wooden skewers or even knitting needles in a pinch.

Ebelskivers are incredibly versatile. The batter can be savory or sweet and the sky is the limit as far as what you would like to stuff inside the little guys. I have made Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers as well as Cadbury Egg Stuffed Easter Ebelskivers in the past. For Thanksgiving, I wanted to work pumpkin into the mix so I made a pumpkin / graham cracker batter (for those of you in Ireland and the UK you could substitute digestive biscuit crumbs for the graham cracker crumbs if graham crackers are difficult to come by) and decided to stuff each wonderful morsel with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream cheese.

But I wasn’t finished there. Oh no. Then I dusted confectioners’ sugar over the tops of these gorgeous stuffed pancakes. The results were wonderful, a sweet pumpkiny taste followed by the soft, creamy tangy cream cheese filling. Mmmmm….Perfection!

If you didn’t want to bother stuffing the ebelskivers with the cream cheese mixture, you could add a bit of superfine sugar to the cream cheese vanilla mixture and maybe thin it down a bit with some milk and then drizzle it over the top of the ebelskivers as a frosting. I dare say, maple syrup would also be quite tasty over these little gems. Surprize folks over the Thanksgiving holiday with this tasty treat!

Pumpkin Pie Ebelskivers filled with Vanilla Whipped Cream Cheese

Yield: 20 Ebelskivers

Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

  • 1/2 Cup ( 1 1/2 oz./45 g) Graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 Cup ( 1 1/2 oz/45 g) All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 Cup ( 2 oz/60 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 can (14 oz/440g) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted  and slightly cooled
  • 1 can ( 15 oz/470g) pumpkin purée
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

For the filling:

  • 1 Cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C).

In a large bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the condensed milk and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and , using a wooden spoon, stir until well blended. The batter will be lumpy.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter alternately with the pumpkin purée in 2 additions, just until well blended and no white streaks remain.

In a separate bowl, mix the whipped cream cheese and the vanilla extract together until well blended.

Brush the wells of the ebelskiver pan with some of the melted butter and place over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble, add 1 tablespoons batter to each well.

Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture into center of each ebelskiver.

Add 1 Tablespoon of the batter to each well, covering the dollop of cream cheese completely.

Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are lightly browned and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Use 2 short wooden skewers to turn all the pancakes and cook until lightly browned on the other side, about 3 minutes longer.

Transfer the finished pancakes to a platter and keep warm in the oven while you repeat to make 2 more batches. Dust the warm ebelskivers with confectioners’ sugar and serve right away.

Recipe from “Ebelskivers” by Kevin Crafts


Harvest Apple Bread Pudding with a Salted Maple-Caramel Sauce

November 5, 2011

Now that Halloween is over and I’ve got all those spooky treats out of my system, I can get back to my Fall  fresh apple obsession. This recipe is part two of my covert mission to hide some morsels of the Harvest Apple Challah bread that I made a short time ago, for the purpose of making other tasty treats with it. First I managed to make some lovely Harvest Apple French Toast with a bit from my hidden stash. Then I made these two charming little ramekins of Harvest Apple Bread Pudding. And I couldn’t just stop there… Oh No! I went ahead a whipped up some mouth-watering Salted Maple-Caramel Sauce to drizzle over the top. The recipe below actually makes about 1 cup of the stunning salty-sweet concoction, which is quite a bit more than you’ll need here, but you’ll be very happy to have it around. This sauce is really quite good and goes well over ice cream, baked apples, pancakes, you name it. It’s even good squirted right out of the bottle ( not that I would be doing that… in public anyway 🙂 ). I did drizzle some right over the tops of my Harvest Apple Bread Pudding though. The result was absolutely scrumptious.

This recipe, like my previous Harvest Apple French Toast, calls for “Maple Sugar”. Maple Sugar is made from the sap of the sugar maple tree and is significantly sweeter than granulated sugar. It can be found in the sugar section of most large grocery stores, or if not in your town, it can be order online. (I’ve seen it on Amazon.) I mentioned that you could swap it out for granulated sugar if you wanted, but you might want to increase the sugar amount a bit and probably won’t get as mapley a taste. However, the sauce does call for imitation maple extract, so that might just be enough for you.

Once my husband got his hands on this dessert, all secrecy and hoarding behaviour on my part was forgiven. (He actually didn’t even suspect a thing…I’m that good!) We devoured these puddings in no time flat! So if you haven’t made the Harvest Apple Challah yet, get baking! You don’t miss out on this delicious Harvest Apple Bread Pudding!

Harvest Apple Bread Pudding with a Salted Maple-Caramel Sauce

yields: Two 8 oz. Ramekins

Ingredients:

For Bread Puddings:

  • 2 cups 1/2-inch cubed Harvest Apple Challah bread
  • 2/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk or heavy cream if you’re feeling particularly decadent
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Maple sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For Salted Maple-Caramel Sauce:

Yields: 1 cup

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 5-6 drops of imitation maple extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, or until toasted.

Combine milk, maple sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and egg in a medium bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Add toasted bread cubes and toss until coated. Gently push bread down into liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter the inside of two 7-8 oz. ramekins. Divide the chilled bread/egg mixture evenly between the two ramekins.

Place ramekins in an 8-inch pan and add about an inch of hot water. Bake, uncovered, for about 35 minutes or until set.

While the puddings are baking, prepare the Salted Maple-Caramel Sauce. Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar. Whisk until sugar melts and mixture is thick and boiling. Slowly whisk in cream. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking often, though not constantly. Boil until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Whisk in coarse salt and maple extract.

Just prior to serving, drizzle each pudding with the salted maple-caramel sauce.

Enjoy!

Salted Maple-Caramel Sauce Recipe from Bon Appetit as seen on Epicurious

Harvest Apple Bread Pudding Recipe adapted from Chocolate Bread Pudding for Two on Craving Chronicles


Harvest Apple French Toast

October 24, 2011

I’m happy to say the Fall weather held through the weekend around here! We went for a great hike on Saturday in a local park. The temperature was great (could’ve been a bit cooler…) and the changing leaves were gorgeous. On Sunday morning I decided to make some French Toast with a bit of the Harvest Apple Challah bread that I had made earlier in the week. It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision mind you. I had thought about it shortly after I had my first bite of that fantastic bread. I knew if I didn’t squirrel a couple pieces away for French Toast, there would be none left. So I acted quickly before we gobbled it all up!

Having that secret stash of bread was brilliant, just like this french toast turned out to be! All French toast is pretty great in my opinion, but the Apple Challah bread made this French toast particularly stunning. The recipe below is a basic french toast recipe with a little nutmeg thrown in as well as some “maple sugar”, to give it a nice fall, mapley taste. Maple Sugar is a sugar prepared from the sap of the sugar maple tree. It is sweeter than granulated sugar, so a little goes a long way. I found mine with all the other sugars in my local grocery store. It’s a bit pricey, but I really like it. It would be fine to substitute in granulated sugar and rely on Maple Syrup to provide the maple flavour. To each his own.

So, to sum it up, I guess I’m saying that you really should whip up some of that Harvest Apple Challah bread, if only to have it for the Harvest Apple French Toast. But if your family is anything like mine, you better think ahead and hide some before it’s gone. To let you in on a little secret… I have a bit more stashed away and will be making some Harvest Apple Bread Puddings soon. Stay tuned and in the meantime, enjoy the Harvest Apple French Toast!

Harvest Apple French Toast

yield: 2 pieces of French Toast

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick slices of Harvest Apple Challah Bread (for recipe click here)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple sugar (or granulated sugar if you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Directions:

Place milk, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple sugar in bowl. Whisk until well combined. Place Harvest Apple Challah slices in bowl and allow bread to soak up some liquid on one side and then flip bread over.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in frying pan over medium heat. Place soaked bread slices in pan and cook, flipping as necessary, until both sides are golden brown.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

Enjoy!


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