There is something about French cooking that is certain; nuanced taste and unpretentious style. A respect for tradition, technique, and above all choosing the finest fresh seasonal produce, meats, fowl and dairy products that sets French cooking , whether it be from the country kitchen or the finest restaurants, in a class of its very own.
The baked apple recipe that follows is an adaptation from The Natural Cuisine of Georges Blanc, a cook book I have returned to again and again over the years. The preparation is quite easy and serves up a gracious finish for a seasonal fall or holiday meal.
Recipe: serves 8
- 4 Golden Delicious apples (or Fuji as substitute)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- zest of 2 lemons, grated
- 2 Granny Smith apples (or firm red apples)
- 3 tablespoons cream
- 2 organic egg yolks
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon corn starch mixed with water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- powdered sugar for dusting
- amaretti cookies, crumbled (optional)
- whipped cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F/200C
Halve the Golden Delicious apples across the center. Core and remove the seeds. Using a melon baller create a cavity in the center of each apple half which will later be filled with grated apple filling.
Place the apples cut side up in a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the apples with 6 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Pour 1/3 cup water into the bottom of the baking dish and transfer the dish to the oven and bake 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
Peel the Granny Smith apples (or other), halve, and remove the core and seeds. Coarsely grate the apples and set aside in a mixing bowl.
Add the lemon zest, the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, cream, egg yolks, salt, and cinnamon to the grated apples and mix until the ingredients are well combined.
Remove the baked apple halves from the oven and stuff and mound each half with the grated apple stuffing. Dot each half with the butter. Sprinkle the stuffed apples with the brown sugar and return to the oven to bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the apples are a golden amber color.
Remove the apples from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Remove the apples from the baking dish and set aside on a platter. Pour the pan juices in the baking dish into a sauce pan and add the lemon juice. Bring to a low boil and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Stir while simmering for 2 minutes and the sauce has thickened. Set aside to cool.
Serving: Serve the apples while still warm from the oven or reheat the apples if they have been refrigerated.
Place a stuffed apple on each dessert plate and spoon a small pool of pan sauce to one side of the apple. Dust the apple with powdered sugar and scatter crumbled amaretti over the top (optional) and whipped cream on the side (optional).
Voila! A beautiful simple dessert with style!