spiced caramel apples

i go through phases with certain dishes – i develop an obsession which means i cook something as often as possible for as many people as possible. sometimes the dish then enters a less regular rotation or i need a complete break – there’s no rhyme or reason but there is usually something that grabs my attention.

last winter it was farro with pumpkin and slow-cooked cavolo nero (cavolo catches my eye every year and i buy it constantly whenever it is in season). during the summer and autumn i moved onto ricotta gnocchi. both of these are recipes from suzanne goin’s sunday suppers at lucques. this book is also responsible for the plate of deliciousness above, which will, i think, be a new passion of mine.

butter is browned with some vanilla and then mixed with sugar (a mix of white and brown), spices (i used cloves and nutmeg) and brandy. halved apples are tossed in this mix and then roasted, with the sugary mix used as a baste every ten minutes. we ate this with double cream and had double portions. all the way through i kept pausing to reflect how delicious the caramel was, with it’s spice and tang of apple, contrasting with the soft sweet apples and rich cream.

heaven on a plate. i can’t wait to make it again.

suzanne goin’s roasted apples with calvados (serves 6)

1 vanilla pod

110g unsalted butter

6 small baking apples (i used pink lady)

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar (i used muscovado)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (i didn’t have any so used a pinch of ground cloves)

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoons calvados (i used brandy)

¼ teaspoon salt

cinnamon ice cream to serve (i used double cream)

heat the oven to 220c.

remove the seeds from the vanilla pod and place these and the pod in a small pan with the butter then cook over a medium heat for 6-8 minutes until the butter browns and smells nutty. remove from the heat, discard the pod and place in a large bowl with the sugars, spices, calvados and salt.

halve the apples - keeping the stem and core in looks prettier but makes it more difficult to eat – and toss the in the sugar mix. place the apples cut side up in a roasting dish and spoon the sugar mixture over them.

bake for 40 minutes until the apples are tender, caramelised and the flesh pulls away from the skin, basting with the pan juices every ten minutes. arrange the warm apples on a plate*, pour over the remaining juices and serve with the ice cream/cream.

* i made my apples in advance and just left them, in the serving dish, in the cooling oven to keep warm. ten minutes at 100c before we were ready to eat was enough to heat them up to a good eating temperature.