Whole Apple Pecan Crisp

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Nancy speaks for herself with this recipe:

“Most of the desserts on the Boulevard Restaurant menu are the kind I really like to eat. By that I mean that they’re the kind of desserts that I would eat at home. Not particularly tempted by elaborate, architectural, or complicated sweet creations, I was inspired by candy apples, the kind you get as a kid at Halloween–whole apples coated with sticky sweet caramel and chopped nuts. What evolved after some experimentation is this very homey but sophisticated dessert that is more like an apple crisp with lots of topping covering the whole poached apple. And instead of coating the apple with caramel, a caramel sauce is served alongside. It’s the kind of dessert that will delight the kid in all of us.”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups apple juice, cider, or French hard cider
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 6 medium apples, peeled, cored
  • 1 recipe Crisp Pecan Topping rum raisin ice cream
  • 1 recipe Cider Caramel Sauce

Method

Put the wine, apple juice or cider, bay leaf, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and cardamom in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Stir and add the whole apples. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook until the apples are just barely tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove the apples with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.

Strain the poaching liquid into another container, remove 2 cups and put it into a small saucepan. Boil to reduce those 2 cups to ½ cup. Set aside to use in the caramel sauce and then refrigerate the rest of the poaching liquid for another use.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter six 3- by 1-inch ring molds and set them on a nonstick baking sheet. Place a poached apple in each ring mold and then pack the tops equally and tightly with the crisp topping, stuffing some of it into the apple cores and allowing some of it to fall down the sides of the apples and fill up the ring molds. Press on more than you think it will hold, mounding the mixture slightly, because the apples shrink as they cook further.

Bake until the tops are golden and bubbling around the bottom and the apples are warmed through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly before serving.

To serve, run a small knife around the inside edge of the ring molds to release the apples. Slip a spatula under the molds to lift each one into the center of each of 6 plates or shallow bowls. Slip the ring molds off the apples. Top with a scoop of rum raisin ice cream and spoon the cider caramel sauce around.

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