Spring desserts don't often rely on apples. But chef Peter Smith chose them because they represented the most "reliable" fruit he found at the grocery store in this final course of his chef's challenge, a budget dinner for 4.
For the sake of economy (to avoid buying a container of juice or cider), he used the juice of 1 apple to help build a syrupy glaze for the baked fruit.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, if you have it on hand.
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) sugar (may substitute confectioners' sugar)
- 3 large Fuji apples
Combine the cinnamon and 6 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium bowl.
Peel all 3 apples; discard the peel. Cut 2 of them in half vertically; use a melon baller to remove the cores and stems. Lay the 4 halves cut side down on a cutting board. Cut vertically into 1/4-inch slices, being careful to keep the halves together as much as possible. Add the halves to the bowl and carefully coat with the sugar mixture. Let them rest while you prep the remaining apple.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Line a medium bowl with cheesecloth or a clean dish towel. Use the fine-hole side on a box grater or a a Microplane grater to grate the remaining apple into the prepared bowl. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth or dish towel and squeeze the juice out of the grated apple (there should be at least 1/4 cup); discard the pulp. (If you have a juicer, juice the remaining apple.)
Combine the extracted juice with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a medium ovenproof saute pan over medium heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring just to dissolve the sugar, until the mixture has reduced to form a light syrup. Remove from the heat; add the coated apple slices to the pan, keeping the halves intact as much as possible. Return the pan to medium heat for 2 minutes, spooning the syrup over the apples to coat them evenly. Then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 8 minutes or until the apples are still slightly firm but can be easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Let the apples sit in the pan to cool slightly.
To serve, carefully transfer the apples from the pan to individual plates, slightly fanning out the sliced apple halves. Drizzle the pan syrup over the top and serve warm.
From chef Peter Smith of PS 7's restaurant in Washington.
Tested by Kathy Orton.
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