Friday, October 31, 2008

Apple Cranberry Walnut Tatin

I've decided about the pissiest presentation these days for a dessert is in individual ramekins (or in this case a mini-souffle).  Skip the big box store for them, head to your nearest restaurant supply and save a bundle.  I bought mine at Surfas in Culver City for $3.50 instead of the around 10+ at the other places you'd find at the mall.  

Over this last weekend we met at my cousins house for dinner, I was in charge of desserts.  For the kids 1 yr to 17 I opted for cupcakes.  For the adults I took an old favorite pie recipe and kicked it up a bit for the adults.

What makes a "tatin" in french baking is the rich caramel poured over the fruit then it is turned upside down after it cooled just enough to thicken up.  For this version I wanted it to be an over the top caramel so I made it with brandy.

The problem with that is that it is messy compared to a regular pie and not exactly the kinda wow you want when people get the dessert.  Putting each serving in its own ramekin allows for good presentation without having to hack up the dessert to get it on a plate.

Apple Cranberry Walnut Tatin
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 2T water
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T brandy 
  • 4 lightly buttered ramekins
  • 6 medium apples (I used fuji, but gala work nice too)
  • 1 T cinnamon (adjust to taste)
  • 1/8 t fresh ground nutgmeg
  • 8 T fresh ground walnuts
  • 1/2 c dried cranberry
  • 1 sheet ready made pie crust (like Pilsbury ready made)
For caramel place sugars and water in heavy pan.  Over medium heat bring to boil.  Whisk slowly until dissolved.  Boil gently until thick and turning deep caramel color (about 5-10 minutes).  Reduce heat and whisk in butter 1 T at a time.  It will foam up and stir constantly to reduce the foaming.  Once foaming has settled, REMOVE pan from flame.  Add Brandy and stir constantly until foaming stops.  Carefully return pan to med-low flame, use caution as it could ignite remaining brandy.  Cook gently until it is soft ball stage about 234F.  Remove from heat and allow to cool while preparing the rest of the dessert.

Cut pasty dough into 4 circles slightly larger than the ramekin.  Save remaining pasty bits to cut into decorative shapes.

Peel, core and slice apples.  Toss lightly with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Divide between two bowls.  Lightly butter the ramekins.  Using first batch of apples divide between ramekins, layering neatly into dish.  Divide walnuts and cranberry, using one division to be split between all 4 ramekins in even layers.  Repeat layers ending with the nuts.  Pour about 2T caramel into each ramekin.  

Top each ramekin with pastry, tucking edges in and against the rim.  Cut some vents into the dough to allow steam to escape.  Top each with a pastry shape (I used a leaf shape) that is dampened on the bottom to help it stick.  You can brush with an egg or cream wash then sprinkle with some raw sugar if you want a shiny more decorative top.  Place ramekins on rimmed baking sheet to catch possible boil over and drips.

Bake 30-40 minutes in 350F oven, or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Assembling the first layer as evenly and flat as possible helps with minimizing the collapse as the dessert bakes and the fruit shrinks while being cooked.
Mmmmmm....nice rich caramel, just enough left over to toss on a scoop of ice cream as bakers treat while making these.
Top layer of fruit comes just to the top of the ramekin.   Crappy phone-cam doesn't show the fine details on the one that has its dough top on, but you get the idea of tucking inside the dish and up against the rim.
All fresh out of the oven.  Note the steam vents are clearer in this pic.  Of course since this is fall I opted for a "leaf" design, but you can use hearts, diamonds, or even fruit shapes as decoration made from the left over pastry dough.

No comments: