Friday, October 09, 2009

Candy Apples with a Kick and Dates with a Twist Offer Sweet Tastes for All this Fall

My latest column in the j. has published and it is full of fall treats.

Try the Cinnamon Candied Apples for Simchat Torah or even Halloween or just for fun. The Dates with Marscarpone are stuffed with an orange-flower water and marscarpone cheese mixture, drizzed with caramel (or date) syrup and accented with pistachios and pomegranate seeds. They make a wonderful accompaniment to tea or a nice dessert to a rich meal.

See my column and the recipes here.

Check back to see if I update this with stories of candied apples past (which we called jellied apples growing up.)

Looking for other fall treats -- check out all my recipes including pumpkin (chili, couscous, mini-tarts) plus lots of advice on how to select and cook the hobgoblin of winter squashes here.

Want to make caramel apples instead of candied? Follow the recipe on the back of the Kraft caramel's package, or check 101 Cookbooks' all-natural version here.
About the photos: Top candied apples with cinammon decors. Side, the dates on a marble plate from Vietnam. Click on the photo to make it bigger. I really liked it full size but it's hard to tell the dish from the dish in the small photo.

Here's the recipes for your convenience

Cinnamon Candied Apples
Makes 4 to 5 apples

4 or 5 small Fuji or Gala apples

six-inch skewers or craft sticks

parchment paper

vegetable oil or spray

2 Tbs. cinnamon red hot candies or cake decors

1 cup sugar

3⁄4 cup boiling water

1⁄16 tsp. cream of tartar

Wash and dry the apples. Skewer them securely through the stem end. Set aside. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, grease with oil or spray. Set aside. Fill bottom pan of double boiler (or improvised double boiler) with water, set top pan inside, making sure it does not actually touch the water below it. Put the double boiler on high heat. Once the water boils, lower and keep at a simmer.

Put the candies in a heavy-duty plastic food storage bag and seal. Crush the candies into fine bits with a rolling pin. Put the crushed candies into a saucepan. Add the sugar, boiling water and cream of tartar. Put on a low heat and allow to boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook until the sugar mixture reaches “hard crack” stage, about 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. (Hard crack is when a bit of the hot sugar mixture is dropped into ice water and it separates into hard, brittle threads.)

Carefully transfer the syrup to the top of the double boiler. Working quickly before the sugar mixture cools, dip the apples one at a time in the sugar mixture. Swirl them in the syrup or spoon the sugar mixture over them until they are completely coated. Place on the greased parchment paper until the glaze hardens.

The number of apples you can candy will depend on their size, how quickly you can work and how rapidly the syrup hardens in the top of the double boiler. Store the candied apples in a cool place.

Dates with Mascarpone
Makes 16

1 tsp. orange flower water (optional)

1⁄2 cup mascarpone cheese

16 large Medjool dates (about 1⁄2 lb.)

2 Tbs. caramel sauce or date syrup

1⁄4 cup pistachio halves or pieces

1⁄4 cup pomegranate seeds

Orange flower water, which adds a delicate citrus note, can be found in some liquor and gourmet stores, as well as in Middle Eastern markets. If using, beat it with the cheese using a fork in a small bowl until combined. Slit each date lengthwise to remove pit. Stuff each date with a generous teaspoon of the cheese mixture (or plain cheese).

Refrigerate until 20 minutes before serving. Just prior to serving, place on serving platter, drizzle with the caramel sauce or date syrup (found in stores specializing in Middle Eastern food products) and scatter nuts and pomegranate seeds on top.

1 comment:

FJKramer said...

Gary and I just shared the last leftover apple. I had wrapped it well in parchment paper and then plastic wrap and kept it in the fridge. It must have been 2 weeks old. The fruit was a bit tired but the glaze was still zippy and crunchy and the whole thing tasted great. So you can make these ahead, just wrap them as I describe.