In this image taken on August 27, 2012, Apple Cranberry Brulee served on a plate is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Updated: October 1, 2012 8:29AM
I’ve never met an apple I didn’t like. They all have their strong points. Some, like the Honey Crisp, are perfect right off the tree — juicy, with a snappy texture. Others don’t really begin to shine until they are cooked. Granny Smith and Rome apples hold their shape perfectly in the oven, while Macintosh fall completely apart (which, happily, make them great candidates for applesauce).
Which kind of apple should you use for my apple cranberry brulee? In this recipe it doesn’t matter. Just pick the one or two kinds you like best.
Preparing this recipe is surprisingly easy. I peel the apples, halve them by cutting down through the stem end, remove the core with a melon baller (a good little trick to remember), then thinly slice them to speed up the baking time. Baking the apples, rather than sauteing them, allows me to avoid adding any extra fat (aside from the egg yolk).
I flavor the apples with maple syrup and brandy. I recommend Grade B maple syrup, if you can find it. It is harvested at the end of the season and is much darker in color than Grade A. It also is more flavorful and, usually, cheaper. I don’t just use Grade B in baking, I put it on everything. As for the brandy, if you want to lose it, feel free. This dish is plenty tasty without it.
This treat is a cross between a baked pancake, a souffle and a creme brulee. It has an eggy topping, reminiscent of a pancake, but the egg white in the topping has been beaten to soft peaks, which makes it lighter and airier. In the end, it is sprinkled with sieved brown sugar and popped back in the oven until it gets a dark brown crust that tastes like the burnt sugar on the famous custard. The finished product embodies the best of three great recipes, though nothing outshines the apples.