20-Hour Apples Are Absolutely Fantastic!!
After using up some Granny Smith apples that were a little past their prime earlier today to make an Apple Brown Betty that only turned out so-so; I remembered just how great an apple dessert can be if the baker truly puts some effort into its creation..After tasting, and being disappointed with, my efforts with the Apple Brown Betty I for some reason remembered the 20-Hour Apples that I made for the first, and only time, back in 2000..
The recipe comes out of the book Desserts by Pierre Herme..The execution of the recipe takes the better part of 24 hours, but in reality is simplicity itself..Why I never made the 20-Hour Apples recipe again after that first time I do not know..The apple filling that results from the recipe can be used in a variety of ways, and is quite simply the best tasting apple dessert creation that I have ever eaten, bar none..Chef Herme's recipe calls for a mixture of sweet and tart apples, such as Granny Smith and Fuji..I used all Granny Smith apples back in 2000 and thought that the resulting dessert filling was simply fabulous..If I could get my hands on some heirloom Gravenstein apples I am positive that the end result would be far tastier, with additional layers of apple flavor, than what I obtained with the Granny Smith apples..
I urge anyone that loves apple desserts to try their hand at this recipe..You WILL NOT be disappointed!!..
Pre-heat the oven to 175F
6 Granny Smith tart apples, preferably organic
4 Fuji sweet apples, preferably organic
4 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup organic granulated cane sugar
Finely grated zest of 1-2 organic oranges
Pyrex 8"x8" square baking dish, buttered
6" diameter ceramic souffle dish half filled with baking weights (dried beans)
heavy-duty plastic wrap
Peel the apples..Core them with a suitably-sized apple coring tool..Cut the apples in half through the core..Using a very sharp knife slice the apples across the core into slices that are as thin as you can make them..The thinner the better..Twice the thickness of a piece of printer paper is about what you want to shoot for..Try to keep the slices of the apple halves neatly together..Pick up the entire half of the thinly sliced apple and fan out the slices in the bottom of the buttered baking dish as evenly as possible..Repeat the slicing and fanning out with additional apple halves until the bottom of the dish is covered in a single layer of fanned out ultra-thin apple slices..Now, brush melted butter over the layer of sliced apples..Sprinkle the layer of buttered apples with a thin layer of granulated sugar, followed with some of the finely grated orange zest..Repeat these steps until all of the apples have been used up in this way..Tightly wrap the baking dish with plastic wrap taking care to stretch it tightly across the dish like a drum head..Turn the dish 90 degrees and repeat the wrapping process..Take a sharp, pointed paring knife and poke a series of holes through the two layers of plastic wrap every inch, or so..Place the dish on a 1/2 sheet pan..Place the souffle dish half filled with dried beans on top of the plastic wrap, taking care NOT to cover up all of the holes that you just poked in the plastic wrap..Place the sheet pan with the weighted, plastic wrapped baking dish into the 175F oven..Do not worry!!..At 175F the plastic wrap will not burn..It will shrink up, and some of it might stick tightly to the Pyrex dish, but ir will easily scrape off later..Set a timer for 10 hours, and allow to bake until the time is up..Remove everything from the oven..Spill the beans out onto the sheet pan and allow them to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack..Cool the wrapped dish on a cooling rack to room temperature without removing the plastic wrap..When the apples are at room temperature, place them in the refrigerator with the weighted souffle dish back on top of the apples..Cool in the refrigerator for 10 hours..When the 10 hours in the fridge are up, remove the dishes from the refrigerator, and unwrap the apples..
The end result should be approximately 4-5 cups of a jam-like apple filling where the apples still maintain some semblance of their original shape..The taste will be out-of-this-world fantastic with an apple intensity that has to be experienced to be believed..Organic ingredients are a must for this recipe, and will pay the baker back for their higher costs in additional layers of flavor untainted by petrochemical residues..
Do not get hung up on the equipment suggestions, just use whatever equipment that you own..The ingredients are the key to 20-Hour Apples..
20-Hour Apples are fantastic over a great vanilla ice cream..They also make a fantastic tart filling, cake filling, danish filling, etc..I am sure that any baker can come up with dozens of ways to use this filling..