Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last Hurrah - Three Great Dessert Recipes

Before the holiday season is over, before you despair over the weight gained over the past month, before all excuses for cookies have disappeared, I wanted to share these with you. As you may know I have devoted my life to a search for the best of the best recipes, with a laser-beam like focus on dessert. Perhaps next year I'll be inspired by chard, but for now it's all butter, all the time.

Below is the most amazing recipe for Apple Crisp I have ever had. The boiled cider, Pomona's Ambrosia we use is from our friends at Blue Heron Orchard in Canton, Mo.

Additionally I'm including two cookie recipes which have been known to make grown men cry. We're serving them with mulled cider tonight at the Milkweed Mercantile. 

Have a lovely, peaceful, guilt-free holiday. 



 photo credit: Tecfan on Flickr

Apple Crumble
Adapted from King Arthur’s Flour Baker’s Companion

5 pounds apples
1/4 cup cider
2 Tb butter, melted
2 Tb boiled cider (Pomona's Ambrosia)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3 Tb tapioca flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup thick old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking powder
8 Tb butter (1 stick, 4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9” x 9” cake pan or a ceramic pan of similar capacity and surface area.

To Make the Filling
Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/4" thick pieces. Place them in a bowl with the remainder of the filling ingredients and stir vigorously to combine. In the process of apple pieces will break into smaller bits. This is fine. Spoon the apple mixture into the pan.

To Make the Topping
In a medium size mixing bowl stir together flour, oats, salt, brown sugar and baking powder. Add the butter, cutting it in with a mixer, your fingers or a pastry blender as you would when making pie crust. Mix until crumbly. If you work it too much the mixture will clump together so use a light touch but be thorough. Sprinkle the topping over the filling.

Bake the crumble for 1 hour or until it is bubbly and a deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven; let it cool half an hour before serving.  

Dream Bars
About 2 dozen 2 ¼” bars
King Arthur Baker’s Companion

These bars are absolutely ugly - they will never win a prize for pretty. However, take these words of wisdom from the cook book:  “...but just take that first bite and you’ll for get the visual impression. Coconut, nuts, and sugar combine to form a gooey, rich topping on a buttery cookie base. Sprinkle these with a shower of snowy confectioner’s sugar and you’ve got bars whose looks begin to live up to their taste.”

Cookie Layer
1 stick (8 Tb) butter
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt

2 cups dark brown sugar
1 Tb unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
1 cup diced nuts: walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 300. Lightly grease a 9”x13” pan

To make the cookie layer:
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt; the mixture will be crumbly. Pat the crumbs into a. Bake the cookie layer for 10 minutes, while you prepare the topping. Turn the oven up to 325.

To make the topping:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and baking powder. Stir in the eggs, mixing until smooth, then add the coconut and nuts, again mixing until well combined. Dollop the topping onto the crust in the pan, spreading it out; wet your fingers  and spread it around as evenly as possible.

Bake the bars for 25 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and cut them when they’re completely cool.

Yuletide Toffee Squares
96 small pieces
King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

...meltingly buttery yet crisp base, slathered with a just-thick-enough layer of chocolate and dusted with finely chopped nuts…

4 ½ c. rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ½ sticks (12 Tb.) butter, melted
¾ cut light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

2 cups (12 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips
2 Tb. Vegetable shortening
2/3 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 450. Lightly grease a 15x10-inch pan

Combine the oats, sugar, butter, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and mix well. Press the mixture into the pan, using lightly greased hands to help the process along.

Bake the squares for 12-15 minutes, or until they’re a light golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. (NOTE: they will still look a little mushy in the middle – this is ok.)

In a medium saucepan set over very low heat, melt the chocolate and shortening together, stirring constantly until smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over the oat base and sprinkle on the chopped nuts. (I did this while the crust was still warm and everything worked out…)

Cover very loosely and chill the squares in the pan until the chocolate is firm. Remove from the fridge and cut into squares. The easiest way to do this is to use a chef’s knife to cut the bars into long strips while they’re still in the pan, and then transfer each long strip to a cutting board to cut into bite-sized pieces. They will be hard to cut, but easy to eat.

Party on, dude!