Caramelized Bourbon Apples
Baked apples are deconstructed, then reassembled as towers of pastry, pastry cream, and bourbon-laced stewed apples. The gold-and-cream stack gives no hint of the flavor twist hidden inside.
- Puff Pastry Cookies
- Frozen puff pastry - one, 16 x 10-inch sheet, thawed
- Confectioners’ Sugar - 2 cups
- Pastry Cream
- Egg Yolks - 3
- Sugar - 6 tablespoons
- Cornstarch - 1 tablespoon
- Milk - 1 cup
- Vanilla Extract - 1⁄2 teaspoon
- Triple Sec - 1 tablespoon
- Heavy Cream - 2 tablespoons
- Bottled Apple Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Caramelized Bourbon Apples
- Granny Smith apples - 3
- Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Vanilla Beans - 1 whole, split
- Brown Sugar - 1⁄2 cup, firmly packed
- Bourbon - 1⁄2 cup
- Cinnamon - 1 teaspoon, ground
- Grated Nutmeg - 1⁄2 teaspoon
- Whipped Cream
- Heavy whipping cream - 1 cup
- Confectioners’ Sugar - 1⁄4 cup
- Mint sprigs - for garnish
- Candied violets - optional
To prepare the pastry: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the pastry 1⁄8-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a baking sheet and dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, and place a second baking sheet on top to prevent the pastry from rising. Refrigerate 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice the pastry into twelve 1⁄4-inch thick squares and dredge in confectioners’ sugar. (The “cookies” will resemble sweetened crackers.) On a surface that has been lightly coated with confectioners’ sugar, roll each piece to 1⁄8-inch thickness. Return the pastry to the baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
To prepare the pastry cream: In a large heatproof bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch (the mixture will be very stiff). Add the milk and whisk until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Transfer the mixture to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, place over medium-low heat, and cook just until it comes to boil. Simmer, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes or until very thick. Transfer the hot pastry cream to a clean heatproof bowl and add the vanilla, cream, and triple sec. Cool. Cover the surface with buttered waxed paper to prevent a “skin” from forming. Chill the pastry cream at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Whisk the pastry cream before using, and add 2 tablespoons of apple butter.
To prepare the caramelized bourbon apples: Peel, halve lengthwise, and core the apples. Slice them thinly crosswise. In a saute pan brown the butter. Add the vanilla bean. Add the apples to the pan and cook until softened but still firm. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and cook until melted. With a slotted spoon remove the apples to a clean plate. Pour bourbon into the pan and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute until the sauce is smooth and syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cinnamon and nutmeg.
To make the whipped cream: Place the whipping cream in the well-chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a well-chilled balloon whip. Whip on high until the cream is frothy. In a steady stream add the sugar and whip until the cream begins to form soft peaks.
To assemble: On individual dessert plates place one cookie, cover with 2 tablespoons of pastry cream, and 1⁄3 cup of sautéed apples. Place a second cookie on top and continue layering with another 2 tablespoons of pastry cream, and 1⁄4 cup of sautéed apples. Top with a third cookie, and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Garnish each plate with 4 tablespoons of the syrup left in the apple cooking pan, 3 tablespoons of whipped cream, and a sprig of mint. If desired, decorate the rim with crushed candied violets.