Friday, October 10, 2014

Caramel Apple Dutch Baby ala Mode

Have you wanted to order something from a menu because its' description had your mouth watering making you even more ravenous than you were before being seated? And then you notice the asterisk next the item. The asterisk which brings your eyes down to the fine print. The asterisk which causes your heart to sink as you learn there will be at least a twenty minute wait time for the menu item. Suddenly your perception of twenty minutes shifts, momentarily making you wonder if you have the stamina to wait that long for the only thing you wanted to order. Going out to eat changes from simply satisfying your hunger to the slightly more complicated test of your patience (and oh let's not forget the test of patience of everyone else you went out to eat with). 

It has been said 'some things are worth waiting for' (whoever said that must have had the patience of a saint). Dutch babies, particularly the Apple Dutch Babies, are one of those foods where the reward is actually worth the wait time. But rather than endure the stares of people waiting in line for a table or worse yet the incredulous looks of your meal companions when they hear you order a dutch baby, you can make them in the comfort of your own home. Once you make your family or friends a dutch baby, they might begin to understand why you make going out to breakfast an event. However, if you make them a Caramel Apple Dutch Baby, you will never again be subjected to the sighs or the crinkled forehead looks you get when you order a dutch baby at a restaurant. Because they will completely understand why breakfast as an event can be a good thing.

A Caramel Apple Dutch Baby is a dutch baby and a caramel apple combined into a single insanely delicious dish. If the combination of those two flavors isn't enough to entice you into making this (am speaking to those of you who take great pride in their ability to maintain self-control and have an off the charts score on the 'marshmallow test') the addition of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of pecan pralines should (will) push you over the edge. Whether you make it for breakfast, for brunch, for dinner or for dessert doesn't matter. You just really need to make it. If I say you haven't lived until you have had a Caramel Apple Dutch Baby ala Mode some of you might think I am being overly dramatic. I'm not.

After making the caramel sauce (or warming up your favorite store bought caramel sauce), the process of making the Caramel Apple Dutch Baby begins with making the egg, (whole) milk, all-purpose flour, vanilla, salt and cinnamon batter. After the batter is whisked until it is smooth, you set it aside while you peel and sauté the apple.

The choices of apples for the Caramel Apple Dutch Baby include Golden Delicious, Cortland, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith. My personal favorite is the Granny Smith as I like its' tartness as well as how it holds up when sautéed. And I like the Granny Smith so much I haven't been able to bring myself to make it with any other apple.

You need only one apple, one large apple, for this recipe. If your apples are small, you will want to use two of them.

The Dutch Baby is made in one pan, preferably a 10 inch cast iron pan. If you don't have a cast iron pan, use a pan you know can hold up in a 425 degree oven. The 1/4 inch sliced apples are sautéed in two Tablespoons of butter, 1/2 teaspoon of Saigon cinnamon and one tablespoon of light brown sugar until softened (approximately 4 minutes of cooking time). The apples are transferred to a plate, the pan is wipe out and then placed in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes (recommend letting it sit in the preheated oven for 10 minutes). 

Once heated, the pan is removed from the oven. Working quickly two tablespoons of butter added to the pan and swirled until melted. After placing the sautéed apples in the center of the pan the batter is poured over them. Returning the pan to the oven the dutch baby bakes for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are puffed and golden brown and the center is set but slightly custardy. Note: My baking time was closer to 15 minutes.

If you are faint of heart, the apple dutch baby can be simply sprinkled with confectionary sugar. But I urge you to keep going and top with the caramel sauce, slightly softened vanilla ice cream and some chopped pecan pralines. 

You can make your own caramel sauce (recipe below) or buy your favorite one. The caramel sauce recipe yields more than you need for the Caramel Apple Dutch Baby but it stores well in the refrigerator. It is great over ice cream, brownies, for dipping apples into, or served over apple pie. The possibilities are endless. If you don't want to make a caramel sauce, the goat's milk caramel sauce from Fat Toad Farm is amazing as is the Fleur de Sel caramel sauce from Trader Joe's is also really delicious. 

Now back living in the midwest, Ben and Jerry's vanilla is my go-to favorite ice cream. If I was on the east coast Bliss ice cream is my hands down favorite. Whichever vanilla ice cream you choose, choose the creamiest one you can find.

If I had to come up with my 'last meal' list, the Caramel Apple Dutch Baby ala Mode would be on it. However, I wouldn't want to wait until my last meal to indulge in its' deliciousness (I would fail this 'marshmallow test'). Any dish that combines a love of pancakes, a love of caramel apples, and a love for vanilla ice cream is one simply too good to wait to enjoy. There are times in one's life when you need to live with reckless abandon, when you need to take a leap of faith, or when you need satisfy your needs. It might be a stretch to say that making and eating the Caramel Apple Dutch Baby ala Mode would be the one thing that pushes you to move outside of your comfort zone, but it is a pretty good place to start.

Caramel Apple Dutch Baby ala Mode (slight adaption to Bon Appetit's Apple Dutch Baby recipe and slight adaption to Averie Cook's Salted Caramel Sauce recipe)

Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream (recommend Organic Valley's heavy whipping cream)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut up into pieces
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

Dutch Baby
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon, divided
1 large Granny Smith apple,peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

Confectionary sugar for dusting
Vanilla Ice Cream (recommend Ben and Jerry's)
Pecan Pralines or Candied Pecans (homemade or store-bought)

Sea Salted Caramel Sauce
1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan on low heat, combine granulated sugar and water. Stir until sugar has dissolved.
2. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to boil until mixture is a deep amber color (about 5-8 minutes). Note: Do not stir mixture while boiling.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/3 of the cream (it will seize and bubble up) and then immediately whisk in the remaining cream and vanilla.
4. Stir in butter and sea salt. Mix until butter has melted and caramel is well blended.
5. Use immediately or transfer to heatproof jar with lid. Store unused caramel sauce in the refrigerator.

Dutch Baby
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Whisk eggs and milk together in a large pouring bowl. Whisk in four, vanilla, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of Saigon cinnamon until batter is smooth. Set aside.
3. Melt 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices, sprinkle with brown sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Saigon cinnamon. Sauté apples until softened (approximately 4 minutes). Transfer cooked apples to a plate.
4. Wipe out skillet and return to oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and add in remaining 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, swirling pan until butter has melted and coats sides and bottom of pan.
5. Place sautéed apples in center of pan, pour batter over top.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the dutch baby is golden brown, puffed around the edges and has a set but slightly custardy center. Note: My baking time was 15 minutes.
7. Sift confectionary sugar over baked dutch baby, top with several scoops of vanilla ice cream, drizzle with warm caramel sauce and sprinkle on candied pecans or praline pecans. Serve immediately.

On both of my recent trips I was able to check all of the 'must do' things on my list. This list usually includes eating at a great restaurant or local dive (love new food experiences); walking or hiking through a beautiful open space (love taking in the beauty of my surroundings); browsing through an antique shop (love bringing back found treasures); and, finding a piece of jewelry (love being reminded of places I have been). It is one thing to indulge in all of these things when you are traveling alone, it is another when you are traveling or visiting with a friend. So when you have a friend that enjoys these same things or maybe even more important, enjoys seeing the joy these things bring to you, you know you have a really great friend. And when you have a friend who loves you for all of your quirks and obsessions (this time it was hunting for a handpainted Day of the Dead platter), this is a friend you feel lucky is in your life, someone you want to remain in your life, and someone where time and distance are variables not affecting the friendship. This is a real friend. The kind you feel safe with, the kind you want to share your ideas and thoughts with, the kind you aren't afraid to be around when your flaws are revealed, the kind where differences don't matter, the kind who has patience with you, the kind who is both effusive with their compliments yet gentle with their advice, and the kind that sometimes pushes you outside of your comfort zone. This is a friend who helps you grow as well as grows as a result as being with you.

As I look at the treasures brought back on this recent trip, I don't just see them as things. I see them as more as memories created with a great, real friend. Because for me making memories just makes for a stronger, more enduring friendship.

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