This past Sunday afternoon we received a call from a dear friend of ours who invited us to join her and her husband for a late Monday morning brunch in Mill Valley. We could, of course, not go empty handed! What would be a quick, easy and delicious dessert that could be prepared with a minimum of effort? As we were tossing ideas back and forth I glanced at the basket of beautiful Fuji apples sitting on the kitchen island and was immediately inspired…
Many years ago when I was studying in San Jose I was hired to be a part-time pastry chef and baker at a lovely garden restaurant on First Street in downtown San Jose, a time when San Jose was still a sleepy and tranquil town surrounded by walnut groves and orchards at the south end of San Francisco Bay. A signature item on the Sunday brunch menu was an absolutely delicious baked apple, filled with raisins, chopped walnuts and cinnamon candies, swimming in a luscious pool of syrup and topped with a dollop of sour cream. The apples were always extremely popular… and I baked dozens of them each week in preparation for the Sunday morning brunch crowd.
Only a few ingredients were needed so I searched the pantry to see how creative we needed to be without having to do an extensive amount of shopping on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Rummaging through the pantry I quickly found dark brown sugar, walnuts and currants, a wonderful substitute for raisins. Since there is always creme fraiche in the fridge the decision was made to use that rather than sour cream. Since we wanted the presentation to touch on the spectacular I found a package of puff pastry in the freezer and thought a beautiful crowning touch would be the addition of a sugared puff pastry star tucked into the cloud of whipped creme fraiche topping each apple. The only item we lacked was the cinnamon candies, or red hots as we used to call them. I had not used or seen them in years and wondered if they were still available. A quick trip down the baking aisle of a local market produced the fiery cinnamon candies! Back in the kitchen I pulled a bottle of Myer’s dark rum from the shelf and Buttered Rum Baked Apples with Whipped Creme Fraiche were about to become the dessert course for Monday’s get together! One of the beauties of this recipe is that there really are no measured ingredients with which to concern oneself. The apples are cored, stuffed and baked… that’s it! Simplicity at its delicious best!
Buttered Rum Baked Apples with Whipped Creme Fraiche
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
apples of choice (Fuji or Red Delicious bake beautifully)
Core each apple with a sharp knife or apple corer and place them in a well buttered baking dish:
Fill each cored apple, packing firmly, with:
walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
currants or raisins
Fill to the top with additional coarsely chopped walnuts:
Top each apple with:
dark brown sugar (a generous tablespoon on each)
Spoon additional dark brown sugar into the baking dish, surrounding the apples:
Generously drizzle the apples with:
Myer’s dark rum
Dot generously with:
unsalted sweet butter
Bake for 1 hour or until the apples are tender to the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees to bake the puff pastries. While the apples are cooling, whip until light and fluffy:
Baker’s Note: For six generous servings we used approximately one cup of creme fraiche. Of note is the fact that creme fraiche, unlike sour cream, can be whipped into a fluffy light cloud:
Place the whipped creme fraiche in the refrigerator until time of service. To bake the puff pastry garnishes either defrost a frozen puff pastry sheet in the refrigerator overnight or allow the frozen pastry to stand at room temperature for approximately 45 minutes before cutting. Using small cutters of choice (we used small star-shaped cookie cutters) cut as many shapes as desired from the unfolded pastry sheet. Rolling out the puff pastry is not necessary:
Place the pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush each shape with:
Turn each piece over, brushing it, again, with egg wash and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar:
Bake until puffed and golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely:
When completely cool the pastries can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The baked apples can be covered with film and stored in the refrigerator, if necessary, for service at a later time but should be brought to room temperature prior to service. To assemble, place the apples in individual serving dishes and drizzle generously with the buttered rum sauce from the bottom of the baking dish. Top each apple with a generous dollop of whipped creme fraiche and a crisp, sugary puffed pastry… Bon Appetit!
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