Caramelized Baked Apple
Bonjour from Paris. I scheduled this post to be published while I am in Paris to keep you entertained while I am away from my kitchen getting ready to post from Paris and Spain. Did I say Paris three times in one sentence? you get the picture. I am probably sitting in Parisian cafe right this very moment, warming up (It’s chilly here in December) with a cafe au lait and getting covered by a thousand flakes from the buttery croissant I am enjoying with my bowl of cafe au lait. I will shake those flakes off my black sweater dress when I get up. What else can I do? I can’t ask for a vacuum cleaner:). Can you see the Arch de Triumph around the corner? I can. There is so much visible history here.
I chose this post especially for today because we just arrived here and this is a French recipe and a special one at that. I have had it served at a restaurant on a previous trip to France and never forgot it. I have since seen it on the internet in various forms as well as in Dori Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. I have created this one from my memory of the dessert with, naturally, some personal adaptation.
As much as I love chocolate, when it comes to dessert I will take apple over chocolate any time. So there. My son the doctor (I am Jewish, indulge me) I know would second that, he loves apple desserts as much as I do. The apple does not fall far from the tree. The sweet and tangy flavours of a baked apple dessert is just what my palate longs for after dinner. I make apple crisps, apple galettes, caramelized apple wedges, apple crepes and more and love them all. This one though is a more sophisticated baked apple dessert in its presentation. I’d like to say make it for a special occasion but I think every meal should be a special occasion, so there you have it. Make it tonight.
The best apples for this are the beautiful, crisp and large Honeycrisp variety but you can try another variety as well. Keep in mind that you want the apple slices to keep their shape, not become a sauce, so avoid the apple sauce varieties (Fuji, Golden Delicious, McIntosh etc.). You will need a mandolin slicer to cut the apples into very thin, even slices that you then stack in a ramekin dish and layers with crushed caramelized nuts. Really sublime. Also, I don’t peel the apples, but you can if you want to. You can serve this with caramel sauce, ice cream, whipping cream or creme fraiche. Sometime I melt a good häagen dazs and spoon that over, as a creme anglaise (ice cream is a frozen creme anglaise). You have to cheat a little in the kitchen, but you have to know how. Stick with me and I will show you.
The apples slices are stacked in a ramekin filled to the brim. You can over fill it if you’d like or if the apple is large but you don’t have to, up to the brim is fine. The apples will bake down in the ramekins but I use taller ramekins, 3″ tall, so the end result is just right for one serving. I also take them out of the ramekin to serve.
I have been making this dessert for a long time so I am including older images (last three) of it that I made while living at Trail’s End. Here is how to make it:
Begin by preparing the ramekins. You will need a ramekin for each apple. Butter the ramekins on the inside and sprinkle with sugar. Turn it around tapping it to spread the sugar over the entire buttered area. pour out excess sugar. If you plan to turn the apples out of the ramekins, which I do, then line the bottom of each dish with a round of parchment, it makes it easier to remove them from the dish after baking. Butter the parchment as well and sprinkle with sugar.
4 large Honeycrisp apples
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup crushed caramelized nuts
Work with one apple at a time. Core the apples, one at a time, but do not peel. Alternatively, you can cut the apple in half and remove the seeds.
Using a mandolin type slicer, slice each apple into very thin slices. Place the sliced apples in a bowl keeping them together as they will be stacked inside the ramekin dish.
Pour lemon juice over the apple slices to prevent them from browning.
Begin placing the apple slices into the ramekins, spooning a little sugar, cinnamon and ground caramelized nuts between some of the slices.
Press the apple slices down and fill the ramekin high, even if it goes over the top of the ramekins (depending on the size of apples you use).
Top each ramekin with a pat of butter and a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon but no nuts on top.
Place a piece of parchment over each ramekin (see image below) and secure it with a kitchen twine.
If the apples are stacked above the rim of the ramekins you would want to weigh them down. You can do this by setting a baking sheet directly over the parchment covered ramekins and placing a heavy baking pan on top of the baking sheet.
Bake at 325℉ until they are cooked through and nicely caramelize. This can take 1.5 or 2 hours.
When they are ready remove from the oven and let them cool.
To remove the apples from the ramekins: once they have cooled lay a plate over the ramekin and turn it upside down in a smooth movement. You should have a beautiful stack of thinly sliced caramelized apple.
Serve one per person, with any of the sauces mentioned above, but here they are again in case you have missed it:
- Caramel sauce
- Ice cream
- Whipping cream
- Creme fraiche
- Sometime I melt a good häagen daaz ice cream and spoon that over, as a creme anglaise.