Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Apple Shortbread Crisp with Caramel Sauce

Most everyone has had a version of strawberry shortcake at one point. This dessert is a sophicated spin on the classic strawberry shortcake but with apples and so much more. You will need to set aside some time to prepare, but the end result is worth every minute. I had a dinner party over the weekend and served this for dessert. Once the first bite was taken, the room went silent and all you could hear was perhaps a sigh of happiness. Even though we were all quite full, we somehow managed to inhale most of it. Try serving with a rich vanilla bean ice cream.

Apple Shortbread Crisp with Caramel Sauce

Serves 6

Shortcake Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 tablespoons sugar
1 t. Vanilla paste or extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of half an lemon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
1/4 cup sugar

Apple Filling

4 crisp apples, Granny smith
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 T. Water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Crumble Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup shredded coconut
Pinch of nutmeg
7 tablespoons unsalted butter

Caramel Sauce
1 ½ cup sugar
¼ C. water
½ t. lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream

Shortcake biscuits:

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add butter, and use fingers to crumble butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour in 3/4 cup cream, and stir with a fork until a loose dough forms.

Transfer dough to a floured surface. Knead gently with floured hands until dough comes together, 3 to 5 turns. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round, and cut out 6 biscuits with a 3-inch round cutter, re-rolling dough once. Place biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. Whisk together beaten egg and water in a small bowl; brush each biscuit lightly with egg wash, and sprinkle each with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on pans for 5 minutes. Prior to serving, use the 3 inch metal ring to cut off extra cookie by pressing down and form into a perfect circle.

Apple filling:

Peel apples and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Set aside. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat; add sugar and water and stir about 2 minutes or until sugar melts,. Add diced apples, and cook about 3 minutes or until apples just begin to soften. Combine lemon juice, Calvados, and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir until cornstarch is dissolved. Add lemon juice mixture to the pan, and cook about 4 minutes, stirring, until juices thicken.

Crumble topping:

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, oats, pecans, nutmeg and coconut in a large bowl; stir until well combined. Melt butter. Slowly add melted butter to the bowl, stirring to combine. Pour mixture onto an un-greased cookie sheet, breaking up large clumps with your fingers. Bake 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool slightly and break apart to form small crumbles.

Caramel Sauce:

Stir sugar, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat; boil without stirring until the mixture turns deep amber brown. This should take about 9 minutes. Take off the stove and hold over the sink before pouring the cream mixture into the sugar mixture. It will boil and bubble. Once calmed down, add to back to the burner and reduce slightly over medium low heat for about 8 minutes. Chill until thickened. Put into another container and slightly heat when ready to use.

To serve:

Place 1 shortcake biscuit on each serving plate, with a the three inch ring on top. Spoon apple filling over biscuit and press down. Add the crumble topping and press down. Gently lift the ring up to form a tower of apple crisp. Drizzle with the caramel sauce.

(Adapted from Napa Rose Restaurant by Chef Jorge)

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