You know the flavor contrast you get when you bite into a perfect caramel apple—first rich, creamy, sweet caramel, and then bracingly tart, juicy apple? Add half a dozen spices and that’s what this caramel sauce tastes like. At first, you think, “Oh yeah, luxuriously rich, wonderfully spiced caramel,” and then POW, the acidity of the reduced apple cider kicks in and your mouth goes, “Hey, whoa, what’s happening here?” I love this double-punch effect.
Last week, I received a copy of Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz. I began immediately to flag the pages (a sure sign that I may actually cook from a book) but then paused on page 90, at a recipe titled, Apple-Red Wine Tart. David, what a great idea!
I poach pears and apples in red wine and a variety of spices nearly every fall, but it never occurred to me to expand the concept into a tart. How lovely that would that be. I actually went as far as buying a bottle of inexpensive, but hopefully decent, merlot to try the recipe when another mental pause occurred.
What if I macerated the apples in reduced apple cider, instead of wine? I knew from past cooking adventures, such as Spiced Apple Cider Caramel Sauce, that reducing and then caramelizing apple cider produces the most sublime nectar imaginable. I wondered if I could combine this idea with my Caramelized Pear & Anise Tart (not yet posted). And this superb tart is the result of all that wondering and David’s inspiring new cookbook.
September is perhaps the most rewarding and enticing month of the year for Northwest cooks. Much of summer’s fruit and produce is still available, while the first of the apples, pears, and winter squash are arriving at farmers markets. Days are still delectably warm, but evenings have begun to cool. I am rustling through leaves on my evening walks through the lovely neighborhoods of Northwest Portland.
This sauce is absolutely delicious. Imagine a dark caramel sauce with the additional flavor and acidity of tart green apples. I love it on everything in the Fall season–over vanilla bean or sweet corn gelato, with warm-spiced roasted apples, alongside pumpkin bread pudding, with beignet or ebelskiver, over delicate cottage cheese pancakes or Swedish flespannkaka (small, crepe-like pancakes with bits of rendered salt pork) , and most especially with Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Cake with Caramelized Cranberry Hazelnut Topping and Orange Cream.
This dish evokes the country-style cooking of countless generations of women feeding their families on the bounty of their own farms and surrounding countryside. As is often the case with foods found growing together in the same region, apples and hazelnuts have a happy affinity for one another. Add a creamy mustard sauce to the mix, along with a succulent chicken, and you have a sensational meal.