Cooking With Cassie: Apple, Rhubarb, & Vanilla

On a recent Skype call with my sister who lives in South Korea, I shared with her just how unappreciated the apple had become in my household. It is the first fruit I throw into my trolley when I go grocery shopping, but also the last to get picked out of the fruit bowl. Over time, I have grown to take the apple for granted – and I made this recipe in a bid to restore its glory.

Before we go any further, I’m going to need you to trust me when I say that this dessert is simple. Simple to eat, but more importantly, simple to make! Do not give into the intimidation that the plate may pose.

There are seven components to this dessert, and you can choose to make everything from scratch (like I did), or you can purchase some parts and still achieve the same delicious results! So we have apple crisps; poached rhubarb; apple puree; caramelized apples; rhubarb tuilles; a butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice-cream.

P.s – I made all these whilst on the 90 minute call with my sister. And even she agreed that it was easy peasy apple squeezy!

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 Starting with the crisps: take an apple and slice it thinly using a mandolin or the slicing side of a grater. Add a splash of lemon juice to the slices and arrange them flat on a lined baking tray. *Note: line with baking parchment, I do not recommend using foil. I did that at first, and my apple slices were not for parting with the foil.

Leave them to bake in a low oven, about 120⁰c, for half an hour. Check them every 10 minutes or so because some pieces cook quicker than others. When checking, leave the tray out for about 2 minutes to allow the pieces to cool slightly – that’ll show you which are crisp and ready, and which aren’t. Cook for longer if necessary, since thickness may differ from person to person and method of slicing.

For the rhubarb: First make a vanilla stock syrup by putting equal quantities of sugar and water, and a vanilla pod in a pan and bringing to the boil until the sugar has dissolved. Voila! Before cutting your rhubarb, take one piece and begin peeling off the skin (it’ll come off in little strings), set these aside and cut your rhubarb into even sized pieces. Mine were about 2-3 inches long. Poach your rhubarb pieces in simmering stock syrup until they are soft (6-8 minutes). Remove from the syrup and set aside.

The stringy rhubarb peelings from earlier are to be dipped in the stock syrup and sprinkled with a little sugar. Lay them flat and straight on a lined baking tray and put in the oven at the same temperature as the crisps. These take no more than 8 minutes, so be attentive and remove once crisp.

Butterscotch sauce: I recommend you use a light coloured pan for this because I used one that was dark on the inside and couldn’t tell whether my caramel was golden or charcoal black– not a good experience lol. 50 g sugar15 g butter150 ml double cream. Dissolve the sugar with 1 tbsp water over a low heat. Bring to the boil and don’t stir until it is a dark golden caramel. You will feel the urge to remove it as it’ll look too dark, that’s okay – persevere honey! Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Once melted, whilst in the double cream.

I had left over vanilla ice-cream from a batch I had made previously, so I just used that. I will upload the recipe another time.

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Apple puree: take an apple of your choice and peel it. Chop it up into even pieces and put into a pan with a sprinkling of cinnamon- 1 apple takes about 6 tbsp water. On a low heat, cover the pan and leave to cook slowly. Once the apples are soft, blitz with a hand blender. Fin!

The caramelised apples: put enough sugar in a pan that is deep enough to cover your pinky nail. Put on the stove on a low heat. Peel an apple; core it and cut in half. Put the 2 pieces into the caramelising sugar and wait until all the sugar has dissolved. At this point, you can begin to pour a liquid of your choice. Either apple juice, apple flavoured cider or anything else you please. Add about a 1/4 cup at a time and this will loosen the caramel and allow the apple to soften without getting burnt. Turn occasionally ensuring they are evenly coloured on all sides. *if the caramel mix begins to thicken too much, continue to add a splash of your chosen liquid

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Arrange artistically on a plate and devour!

cassiesig