Apples are great in everything from pie and baked goods to stews, sauces, soups and salads. I like to add an chopped apple to my butternut squash when I roast it for soup. The apple adds just the right bright sweet flavor to the squash.
On beautiful Autumn days I love to take my family hiking through the local apple orchards. Rubber boots and the flannel shirts come out for the season. I know many families are busy and can’t take the time to pick their own apples. Luckily, Heinen’s offers fresh apples from local growers so you can have that just-picked taste with a simple trip to the grocery store. When you buy freshly-picked apples they will last into December in your refrigerator so get them while they are in season at their peak.
I’m sharing three recipes today. The first, a French Apple Cake, is one of my family’s favorites. It’s made with a combination of tart Granny Smith apples and sweet Braeburn or Golden Delicious apples for a variation of flavor that gives this cake a complex flavor. Then, a simple Apple Crescent and, finally, a simple Green Apple Vinaigrette that can be used on your favorite green salad or grilled vegetables.
This French Apple Cake is less cake than sautéed apples set in a thick custardy crumb set in a golden sugar sprinkled crust. By browning the butter this recipe is more concentrated in flavor. Instead of using a spatula to scrape all of the brown butter out of the pan, simply pour the butter into a small bowl leaving a coating of beautiful browned butter lining the pan to cook the apple slices with two tablespoons of sugar. The caramelization will boost the flavor and ensure your cake will not end up with a soggy bottom. There’s nothing pretentious about this dessert. It’s an any day toss together cake with a little of this and a little of that resulting in a cross between a pie, a tarte tatin and a cake. It may seem simple with no frosting or sauce but, when you taste it, you’ll quickly discover it’s delicious in its simplicity. Brown butter makes everything good. That should be a bumper sticker.
French Apple Cake
- 8 tablespoons or one stick of salted butter plus more for the pan
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples peeled, cord, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 pound Braeburn or golden delicious apples, peeled, cord and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 12 tablespoons of white sugar divided
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Brandy or Calvado’s
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour plus more for the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- two large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- powdered sugar for serving if desired
- Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. Coat a 9-inch spring form pan with butter, dust with flour, then tap out the excess.
- In a 12-inch skillet, over medium high heat, melt the butter. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the milk solids are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma (1-3 minutes). Pour into a small, heatproof bowl. Don’t scrape the skillet, as the remaining butter will be used. Stir allspice into the butter and set aside.
- Add all the apples, 2 teaspoons of sugar and the salt to the still-hot skillet and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture released by the apples has evaporated and the apples are beginning to brown (12 to 15 minutes). Add the Brandy and cook until evaporated (30 to 60 seconds). Transfer to a large plate, spread in an even layer and refrigerate – uncovered – until cool to the touch (15 to 20 minutes).
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla and 9 tablespoons of sugar; gradually whisk in the butter.
Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth; the batter will be very thick. Add the cooked apples and fold until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared pan, spread in an even layer and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until deeply browned (35 to 40 minutes). Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack (about two hours).
- Once ready to serve, run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the sides before slicing.
Apple Pie Crescent Bites are quick and easy. These little two-bite-sized treats are best served warm right out of the oven. The sugars caramelize leaving sweet crunchy bits at the edges and soft apple goodness inside. You know I am a huge proponent of eating non-processed foods but here I have made an exception to the rule. The Pillsbury crescent dough makes throwing together a delicious dessert quick, delicious and easy. You could just as easily use your own pie dough and make a little hand pie or replace the crescent dough with puff pastry.
Apple Pie Crescent Bites
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, and additional apple pie spice (about ¼ teaspoon) for sprinkling on top of crescent rolls
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans
- 1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into 8 (1/2-inch) slices
- 1 (8-ounce) can Pillsbury Original crescent rolls
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and apple pie spice. Set aside.
- Melt butter and toss apple slices in butter, set aside.
- Arrange crescent roll triangles on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Evenly distribute brown sugar mixture onto each triangle.
- Sprinkle each triangle evenly with the chopped pecans.
- Place an apple slice on the wide end of each triangle. Wrap crescent roll dough around each apple.
- Brush each crescent roll with remaining butter. Sprinkle lightly with additional apple pie spice.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
My last recipe today is an easy Granny Smith Apple Cider Vinaigrette. This simple blender vinaigrette has the bright crisp flavor of the granny smith apple which makes it delicious with a peppery green like baby arugula. Toss it with sliced sweet apples, sliced figs and toasted walnuts. It’s also tasty drizzled over grilled vegetables.
Granny Smith Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- one Granny Smith apple, cord and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon raw sugar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Purée the granny Smith apples, Apple cider vinegar and fresh lime juice in a food processor or high powered blender, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed, until smooth.
- See note*
- Add the minced shallot and raw sugar. Blend again.
- With the food processor or blender on high slowly add in the extra virgin olive oil until emulsified. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- This vinaigrette can be made one day ahead of time. Tightly cover and chill re-whisking before using.
*At this point you can strain the solids using a fine strainer or cheese cloth tightly wringing or pressing the liquid if so desired. I kept the solids in the vinaigrette. My blender practically liquified the ingredients and I like the slightly thick consistency.