Winter is creeping in, it’s getting colder, and depending on where you live – – the snow may be starting to fall. Here are a few recipes from a Toronto bakery to stay warm and cozy, by celebrating with friends and enjoying a comforting dessert treat. What could be better?
“Baked apples always signify the beginning of cold-weather cooking to me,” said Linda Haynes, ACE Bakery’s co-founder. “They’re a great fruit to use during the cold months as there are so many ways to use them, and the varieties available are plentiful.”
Apple desserts aren’t just for keeping you cozy, they’re also perfect and easy to make for holiday entertaining.
Baked apples smell divine while they’re being prepared and baked. Stuffed with fragrant and full-flavored ingredients, such as nutmeg, dates, and orange peel, this recipe is tied together beautifully with decadent custard.
For a sweet ending to a wine and cheese party, apple cardamom topped bread is a fun way to use your favorite holiday tastes like cranberry, apple, and vanilla, and a twist of cardamom gives it a floral burst of flavor.
No matter which dessert you choose, it will be the hit of your party.
Baked Apples Stuffed with Dates, Walnuts, and Ginger with Marsala Custard
Marsala, a fortified wine from Italy, gives the custard a scrumptious lift. Medium-sized apples work best for holding the ingredients in, and if you prefer a dessert with no alcohol, substitute unfiltered apple cider for the Marsala and red wine.
4 to 6 large dates, pitted
16 walnut halves
1 tsp. roughly grated orange peel
1/8 tsp. freshly grated ginger
large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
5 Tbsp. fine fresh breadcrumbs
2 tsp. Marsala
6 Russets, Golden Delicious, Cortland, McIntosh or other medium-sized baking apples
1½ cups red wine
2 Tbsp. liquid wildflower honey
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
unsalted butter to grease baking dish
2 cups homogenized milk
½ vanilla bean (cut in half lengthwise) or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. sugar
1½ Tbsp. Marsala
For the Apples
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Chop the dates and walnuts into ¼-inch pieces. Place in a medium-sized bowl and add the orange zest, ginger, nutmeg and breadcrumbs. Toss. Sprinkle in the Marsala. Gently mix together.
Cut a small slice off the bottom of each apple so it can stand upright. Using a melon baller or a sharp small spoon and starting at the bottom, core out the middle of the apple almost to the top, making sure to get out all the seeds. Peel the skin off the top third of the apple. Stuff each apple firmly from the bottom with the date and walnut mixture. Put the apples, peeled-side-up, in a buttered baking dish small enough so that they almost touch.
In a small saucepan, warm the red wine, honey, and butter just long enough to melt the honey, then pour the mixture over the apples. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until soft, basting the apples every 10 minutes or so. Let rest 10 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve each apple atop a generous puddle of room-temperature Marsala Custard.
For the Marsala Custard
Bring the milk and vanilla bean to a simmer. Remove from stove.
In a bowl large enough to accommodate the milk, gently whisk the egg yolks and sugar for about 1 minute. While continuing to whisk the egg mixture, slowly pour in ¼ cup of the warm milk. Continue until all the milk is used.
Place ice in a large bowl until half full and rest a bowl in it large enough to accommodate all the custard. Set aside. Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon for about 6 to 9 minutes or until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of very loose whipped cream. To tell if the custard is ready, lift the spoon out of the liquid and draw your finger down the back of it. It’s ready when the line doesn’t fill in. Stir in the Marsala.
Pour the custard into the bowl resting in the ice to stop the custard from continuing to cook. Remove the vanilla bean. Scrape out the seeds and whisk them into the custard. For a smoother, velvety texture, pour the custard through a sieve after cooking. Bear in mind you may lose some of the vanilla seeds.
Making custard for the first time can be intimidating. There is less chance of the mixture “scrambling” if you use a double boiler. Make sure the water in the lower pot doesn’t come in contact with the top pot of the double boiler. Follow the same procedure as cooking directly on the heat. The custard may take a bit longer to thicken.
©This recipe is from The ACE Bakery Cookbook by Linda Haynes.
Grilled Cranberry Raisin Focaccia with an Apple Cardamom Topping
Makes 4 servings
This is the perfect sweet ending for a wine and cheese party or a midnight supper, and is a breeze to put together.
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. cardamom
4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
1 cup ice cream or crème fraiche
4 slices, ¼-inch thick ACE Cranberry Raisin Focaccia
4 tsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the Topping
Melt the butter in a hot pan, add brown sugar and cardamom and cook for 1 minute. Add sliced apples and cook for about 5 minutes or until the apples are tender and the liquid has slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.
For the Focaccia
Brush both sides of focaccia slices with the butter and grill on both sides until golden.
Lay warm apple wedges on top of the focaccia and drizzle with sauce from the pan. Serve with ice cream or crème fraiche.
Apples can be made up to 1 hour in advance and warmed before assembly.
Recipe developed by the chefs of ACE Bakery.