Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Anna Del Conte's Italian Kitchen - I Dolci (Sweet Things)" - Sauteed Apples with Almonds and White Wine

Date I and my husband made this recipe: December 17, 2010

Anna Del Conte’s Italian Kitchen – I Dolci – Sweet Things by Anna Del Conte, Illustrated by Flo Bayley
Published by: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0-671-87032-7 (copyright 1993
Recipe: Sauteed Apples with Almonds and White Wine (Mele Alle Mandorle E Al Vino Bianco) – p. 40-41

‘Tis the season to indulge and indulge I did on this yummy dessert my husband and I made for a dinner party we hosted on Friday night.

The menu was Italian. I made my recipe for Italian wedding soup (it’s actually a Good Housekeeping magazine recipe that I’ve made 100 times now so I consider it mine, all mine!) and my family’s recipe for homemade manicotti shells and filling (and sauce) and I wanted something to finish off the meal.

Believe it or don’t, I have a cookbook of Italian dessert recipes and so I flipped through that and found this recipe for sautéed apples and whipped cream…and damned if this wasn’t good.

What I loved about the recipe was that it was pretty easy and light. Italians are not big on dessert and most of the well-known recipes are rather heavy – tiramisu being the biggest offender. We never, ever had tiramisu in my family growing up and honestly, I don’t feel deprived. Now Italian cookies, on the other hand, (and cannolis) are another story!

So anyway…besides being light (and sorry- whipped cream is light, right?) this recipe used white wine as well as Calvados (apple brandy) and since it ‘tis the season to indulge in food and alcohol, I decided that Hic!

All I’m going to say is that coring the apples would have been a whole lot easier with a melon baller but did I have one? No! I must rectify this ASAP. Let me also just say that you would think that whipped cream with Calvados would clash with a dry martini but you’d be wrong! (Sure, the cocktail hour was in full swing but I had to sample the dessert, didn’t I?)

By the way, we spread the whipped cream on a beautiful glass plate we got for a wedding gift 20 years ago and with the apples and caramel sauce on top, it was photo-shoot worthy. And we should have taken a photo but hey, we had eating to do!

Happy Holidays!

Sauteed Apples with Almonds and White Wine – serves 6
6 equal-sized large apples such as Granny Smith
1 unwaxed lemon, scrubbed and washed (You will need to zest the lemon using a vegetable peeler)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves
2/3 cup Calvados or applejack
¼ cup granulated sugar, or more according to the sweetness of the apples
½ cup sweet white wine (we had Pinot Grigio on hand and so used that)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sliced almonds
1 ¼ cups whipping cream (we used 1 cup – sue us!)
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Peel the apples, then cut them in half and remove the cores. Make 6 incisions in the round side of each half, taking care not to cut right through it.

Remove the zest from half the lemon using a swivel-headed vegetable peeler, taking care to leave behind the bitter white pith. Squeeze the juice.

Heat the butter in a very large sauté pan in which the apple halves will fit comfortably. Add the lemon zest and voles to the butter and when the butter foam begins to subside, slide in the apples, cut-side down. Saute until golden, then turn the halves over and brown the round side. This will take about 8 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent the apples sticking.

Turn the heat up, pour over one-third of the Calvados, and let it bubble away for 30 seconds. Turn the heat down to low and add the granulated sugar, wine, lemon juice, and 2/3 cup of hot water. Cover the pan with the lid or a piece of foil and cook 5 minutes. Turn the apples over carefully and continue cooking until they are tender. Cooking time varies according to the quality of the apples; do not overcook them or they may break. If necessary add a couple of spoonsful of hot water during the cooking.

When the apples are ready – test them by piercing them with the blade of a small knife through their thickest part – transfer them gently to a dish using a slotted spoon. Let cool.

Remove the lemon zest and cloves from the pan. Add the cinnamon and almonds and sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the syrup is thick and the almonds are caramelized, about 5 minutes. Draw off the heat.

Whip the cream. Add the remaining Calvados and the confectioners’ sugar and whip again. Spread the cream over a shallow serving dish. Make 12 hollows in the cream with the back of a spoon and lay the apple halves in the hollows, cut-side up. Spoon the syrup-coated almonds over the apples. Serve at room temperature.

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