Caramelised apple with filo crisps and date and apple purée
- A challenge
- March 2005
- Serves 6
- Ready in 90 minutes
This showstopper dessert recipe comes from Angela Hartnett and is made with stacks of filo pastry, medjool dates and apples.
- 26.3g (16.5g saturated)
- 75.3g (54.9g sugars)
- 1 vanilla pod
- Zest and juice of ½ lemon
- Juice of ½ orange
- 125g butter
- 200g pack filo pastry
- 7 crisp eating apples, such as Cox’s or Braeburn
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp Calvados or brandy
- 250g medjool dates, stoned
- 125g caster sugar
- 125ml crème fraîche or vanilla
- Ice cream, to serve
- Make the vanilla sticks. Stylish decorations like these are important at The Connaught – but these aren’t great to eat, so whether you make them or not is up to you.
- Cut 1 vanilla pod in half and, using the tip of a knife, scrape out the seeds (save for use in custard or ice cream: put in a small, covered). Place a ruler over the vanilla pod and press down, then cut the pod into very thin sticks. Place between baking paper and allow to dry in a warm place (overnight if making them in advance).
- Make the citrus butter. Put the lemon zest and the 2 juices in a pan and add 25g butter. Heat until the butter melts, then cool.
- Make the filo squares. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Unwrap the filo pastry and count how many sheets thick it is; then you can work out how many sheets you need to give you 54, 8cm x 8cm squares. Cut out the squares, covering the pastry with cling film as you work to stop it drying out. Re-wrap the remaining pastry to use another time.
- Peel off 1 x 8cm-square sheet and brush with the melted citrus butter.
- Put another sheet on top and brush with more melted butter, then place a final sheet on top. Put aside and repeat until you have 18 triple layers of filo in all. Put on the baking tray and bake for 4 minutes until golden. Cool. (Store in an airtight container if you’re making the day before.) Angela’s tip: we make all our pastry at The Connaught, but we buy filo as it is impossible to make. To give yours a really flat, professional finish, bake the layered-up pastry between 2 flat, heavy baking trays. It will take about 8 minutes to cook.
- Peel 6 apples, halve, and cut out the stems and bases. Using the point of the knife, scoop out the core and seeds. Then ‘turn’ the apple (this means trimming the edges to give a rounded shape: not essential, but a detail that makes restaurant food look stylish).
- Melt the remaining 100g butter in a frying pan and add the honey. Bring to the boil, then cook for 2-3 minutes until golden. Add the apples. Cook over a medium heat, spooning the syrup over the apples and turning occasionally, until just pale golden. This will take about 10 minutes. Pour in the Calvados or brandy and spoon the sauce over the apples, turning occasionally until a rich, golden colour. Angela’s tip: cook the apples until a knife goes in easily, but be careful you don’t overcook them. They should be about three-quarters cooked, as they will continue to cook when taken off the heat. If you want to make ahead, warm through in their syrup just before you serve them. We use honey rather than sugar as it gives an interesting flavour and doesn’t burn so easily.
- Make the date purée. Cut 6 of the stoned dates into neat 1cm squares and set aside. Chop the rest, then place the chopped dates and trimmings in a pan. Peel, core and roughly chop the last apple and place in the pan with any apple trimmings (not the peel and core etc) and 100ml water. Simmer until the apple has cooked and the dates have softened. Put in a food processor and blitz until smooth. The date purée can be made 1-2 days in advance and chilled until needed.
- Make the caramel. Put the sugar in a small, heavy-based pan with 2 tablespoons water and cook over a high heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and cook until the sugar caramelises. Leave to cool slightly.
- To serve. Warm up and whisk the date purée and put in a small, paper piping bag. Pipe small rounds around the plate (or make small mounds with a teaspoon). Put a square of date in between each of the purée rounds, then drizzle or pipe the caramel around the edge of the plate. Put 1 layered pastry square in the middle of each plate. Spread with a little date purée and top with a warm apple half. Spread a little more purée on to a second pastry square, and top with another apple half, then put on top of the first square. Spread some more purée over a third square and place it on top of the apple, purée side down. Repeat on the 5 other plates.
- Serve with a scoop of crème fraîche or ice cream, decorated with the vanilla sticks, if using.
This can be made well in advance – the day before, if you like – and assembled just before serving. Best to make the caramel at the last minute, so that it doesn’t set before you serve it.
Try using Cox’s apples as they provides that familar all-time favourite, full-bodied flavour.
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