Rosh Hashanah came and went in a blur this year, and before I knew it Yom Kippur was here, with no time to stop and think, let alone give myself a few hours of Internet time to
mess around on foodie websites write on my blog. Now that’s passed, and I find myself in an awkward position. See, I really want to talk about all the delicious things we ate on Rosh Hashanah. However, an apple confit isn’t really something any sane person wants to make at any other time of year. You see, it’s kind of a huge time investment. I spent an hour and a half slicing and peeling only to have to bake the darn thing for five hours, chill it, heat it in a water bath to loosen the caramel from the dish, and finally serve. It’s pretty much a major pain.
On the other hand, it’s very tasty, like is homemade applesauce and caramel apples got together and combined all their best qualities under the care of a talented mad scientist. It’s delightfully tart, gently caramel flavored, and just about the most apple-filled Rosh Hashanah dessert anyone could come up with. Plus, it’s completely pareve so you can still have meat as a main course. Which is good, because brisket is the best thing ever.
This recipe is adapted (slightly) and reduced from the delightful Crave, by Ludo Lefebvre. While I admit there are a tom of recipes in there that I will never ever make–the man loves pork and shellfish, apparently–it makes me sad that this cookbook has gone out of print, because it’s charming and fresh and can really make a person feel inspired to get into the kitchen right now and create a masterpiece. Keep that in mind, if you make this. It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t quick or easy, but it’s a work of culinary art nonetheless.
Ingredients (makes 1 2-quart confit, serves about 6, maybe 8 with ice cream.)
For the candied zest:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
For the confit proper:
2 cups sugar (divided use)
3 T water
8-10 Granny Smith apples (about 5 pounds)
about 1 T vanilla
cinnamon or anise to taste
Wash the citrus in hot water to remove any wax, dirt, chemicals, or whatever else from them. Peel the lemons and oranges.
Julienne the peels as finely as you’re comfortable with. This takes longer than it ought to.
Put the peels in a pot of water and boil them for 5 or 6 minutes, to leach out the bitter flavors.
Heat the sugar and water up to dissolve the sugar.
Add the julienned peel and simmer the mixture for about half an hour.
While that’s simmering away, let’s make some caramel. Combine 1 cup of sugar and 3 T of water in a small saucepan.
Bring it to a boil.
Let it just barely start to turn golden brown.
No, not that brown!
If you burn it (like I did. Twice.) just throw it away and start over. If you didn’t burn it, pour the caramel into a 2-quart soufflé dish and swirl it around so the caramel coats the sides. When you’ve done that, plop the dish in the freezer to firm the caramel up.
Finally, you can start working on the apple part of this dish. if you have an apple corer, use it. If not, just cut each apple in half.
Slice them either manually or with a mandoline. Full disclosure: I hate my mandoline. It’s bulky and gets dull faster than any of my knives and takes about ten minutes to clean. But nothing makes cleaner slices. So about twice a year I grouse and groan and pull the darned thing out of the cabinet. Use a small biscuit cutter or a knife or an ice cream cone mold to remove any bits of core.
Lay some apple slices in overlapping circles in the caramel-lined soufflé dish . Brush that layer with a bit of vanilla and sprinkle on 2-3 T of sugar and a bit of cinnamon or anise.
Continue making layers and topping them until the apples are just taller than your dish. Top that with about 1/4 to 1/3 of your candied citrus peels.
Top the whole thing off with a round of parchment paper and an oven-safe plate.
Put the confit in the oven at the low, low temperature of 250°F for five hours. Just ignore it, it’ll be all right.
Once it’s fully baked, put it in the refrigerator for at least two hours. When you’re ready to serve, put the soufflé mold into a big pot of simmering water for about two minutes to melt the caramel on the outside of the confit.
Remove the confit from the pot of water. Place your serving dish up-side down on top of the soufflé dish and flip the confit over onto the serving dish. The confit should slide out onto the plate.
Top with the remaining candied peels and serve.