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DEGUSTATION: DESSERT TASTINGS
Apple Tasting
By Renee Shelton

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Dégustation
Apple

This tasting is all about the apple.

Recipes Below:

Apple Butter Nut Tart
Twice Baked Apple Croustade with
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Apple Brown Betty
Chocolate Apple Brandy Cake

Apples are a lunch box mainstay and often stocked in the kitchen pantry. While you may see them everywhere, don't take them for granted as they don't all taste like the run-of-the-mill Red Delicious you can find at the corner market. Depending on the variety, apples can be bitter, sour, tart, and sweet, and may have a combination of those flavors, like sweet and tart. Not only can taste vary, but the texture of the apple as well, and terms like mealy, crumbly, soft, and crisp come to mind. Apples sometimes change texture when cooked and some are geared toward baking more than others, although this tends to be of the opinion of the baker; see Apple Varieties for Pies.

Common eating and baking apples include 'Granny Smith', 'Fuji', 'Jonagold', 'Rome', 'McIntosh' and 'Golden Delicious'. Other varieties not so common include 'Cripps Pink', 'Winesap', 'Cameo' and 'Suncrisp'. According to the Washington Apple Commission, two factors to consider when selecting apples: look at the skin and choose ones that are shiny and not dull in appearance, and to choose ones firm and free from bruises and punctures. To store apples, keep them in the fruit bin at about 32°F.

There are several things to know about apples. The center of the apple has five seed pockets or carpels (the star shaped pockets seen when cut in half crosswise). The amount of seeds per carpel is determined by the health of the tree itself or by the variety, usually containing between one to three seeds each. Apples can be grown by seed or by grafting and must cross-pollinate for fruit to develop. Honeybees are the most commonly used for pollination. According to the Apple section of Wikipedia, the names of apples can suggest how it was cultivated: 'seedling', 'pippin', and 'kernel' in the name suggests that it originated as a seedling. Russeting is a term to describe the discoloration of the apple skin, usually caused by weather conditions, which is different from other blemishes.

Here are some interesting facts about apples from the University of Illinois Extension. (click the link to read more fun facts):

  • The science of apple growing is called 'pomology.'
  • Apples are a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae).
  • The crabapple is the only apple native to North America.
  • The Apple Blossom is the state flower of Michigan.
  • 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.
  • 25% of an apple's volume is air (that's why they float in water).
  • In Colonial times, apples were called winter bananas or melt-in-the-mouth.
  • The weight of a peck of apples is 10.5 pounds.
  • Apples ripen 6-10 times faster at room temperature than at refrigeration.

Now that you know all about the apple, here are some recipes to try:
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Apple Butter Nut Tart
This has a walnut butternut-flavored cream baked under fresh sliced apples. Although any tart crust can be used, we used a rich short crust dough. This recipe is for an 11 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.

Rich Short Crust Dough:
2 c flour
1 T powdered sugar
1/2 t salt
12 T whole butter
1 egg, beaten

Butter Nut Filling:
1 c walnuts, ground in a food processor
8 T unsalted butter, soft
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 t butternut flavoring

Tart:
4 to 5 apples, peeled, halved or quartered and sliced
Apricot Jam, heated for glazing

For the crust: Stir dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Cut in butter and egg. Knead lightly to combine. Chill thoroughly before rolling out.

For filling: Stir together the ground nuts, butter, sugar and eggs. Cover and chill until ready to use.

For tart: Roll out short crust and line tart pan. Transfer all of the butter nut filling and arrange decoratively the sliced apples. Bake in a 350°F until browned and done.

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Twice Baked Apple Croustade with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
This recipe uses your favorite pie dough, par-baked apple halves, and ice cream for a topping. A great way to use up left over pie dough in your cooler for an on the spot dessert.

Apples: cored, peeled, halved crosswise
Pie dough: cut for form around cut apple half
Brown sugar and butter for baking
Ice cream as desired

Place cut apples on a baking sheet cut side down and brush with butter. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to completely cool. In a pyrex or other bake proof custard dish, place a tablespoon or so of brown sugar and about a half-teaspoon of butter on the bottom. Reserve. Roll out pie dough slightly thicker than you would for an average pie crust, and cut out with a large cutter or by hand circles that will fit over an upside-down apple half. Take a baked apple half and place cut side down on a work surface. Place a circle of pie dough over the apple and using hands, press with palms to form around the apple. If necessary, trim dough. Place custard dishes with apples on a baking dish and bake until dough is browned. Remove and allow to cool a couple of minutes. Loosen with a small knife and unmold. Place on serving dishes and serve with ice cream, warm or cold.

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Apple Brown Betty
Brown bettys are layered 'puddings' with fruit and buttered bread crumbs. Here we used apples, and a pinch of cinnamon was added to the dessert.

1/4 c melted butter
2 c fresh bread crumbs
2 c fresh thinly sliced apples
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t cinnamon, more or less to suit your tastes


Toss bread crumbs and butter together. Arrange layers of crumbs and apples in a bake-proof casserole or baking dish. Over each layer of apples, sprinkle a little sugar evenly. Repeat layers of crums, apples and sugar, ending with apples.

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Chocolate Apple Brandy Cake

2 c flour 1/2 c butter, softened
2 t baking powder 1 1/4 c warm water
1/2 t baking soda 2 eggs
1/4 t salt 1 yolk
4 T milk powder 2 t vanilla
1/2 c + 2 T
cocoa powder

2 apples, peeled and shredded

1 1/2 c sugar Brandy, for dousing at end

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour desired bundt or similar pan.

Sift the dry ingredients together. Place in mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients, and at low speed mix until moistened. Set timer for 4 minutes, and mix at medium speed. Scrape occasionally if needed. Add apples and stir to mix. Pour into pan, and bake until the cake tests clean. Turn out onto cooling rack and douse with brandy. Let cool; serve at room temperature.

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Pictures Copyright © 2007 Renee Shelton.

Copyright © 2004-2010 Renee Shelton.
All Rights Reserved.


 

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