Monday, October 22, 2007

Playing with sauce

My group in my pastry class has moved on to plated desserts and that gives us lots of opportunities to play with sauce! This week we made apple charlottes and plated them with creme anglaise and caramel sauce. The charlottes were really lovely--the bread edge was slathered with a cinamon butter sugar mixture before being put in the ramekins. This created a crispy, chewy, buttery ring that encased soft apples. Nice contrast.

First we tried the pool of creme anglaise striped with caramel:
Then we decided that the caramel sauce was so delicious that it should be more prominent:
This one also got a little scoop of maple ice cream on top that another group had made. Not absolutely necessary, but another nice contrast.

I really like serving individual desserts, maybe because I'm pretty lousy at serving slabs of cake and pie. There is also such a content feeling about having your own little complete plate. The only problem I'm having now is converting the recipes for the sauces to reasonable quantities--we had way too much of both sauces when we were done. One really only needs a little creme anglaise, even if you decide to go with plating variation 1. Caramel sauce is a little less problematic, since it can be saved in the refrigerator and reheated in small quantities, say, to top that late night bowl of ice cream.

Apple Charlotte with Caramel Sauce and Creme Anglaise
makes 8 portions

5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2/3 C plus 1 T sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 loaf (at least 8 good sized slices) of brioche, challah, raisin bread or quality white bread. Sliced, with crusts removed.
1 stick butter
1 t ground cinnamon
8 ramekins

Caramel sauce (recipe below)
Creme anglaise (recipe below)

preheat oven to 350.

Put apples, 2/3 C sugar and lemon juice in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the apples have softened. Don't stir too much--you don't want them to get mushy.

Place the butter, 1 T sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream until smooth.

Slather each piece of bread with the cinnamon butter. Really load it on. You need about 1 slice of bread per ramekin. Cut each slice into 3 pieces and line the sides of the ramekins with the pieces; kinda squish them in there firmly so they don't fall apart when you unmold the charlottes (the buttered side should be touching the walls of the ramekin).

Compactly fill the inside of each ramekin with about 1/4-1/3 C of the apple mixture.

Bake the charlottes for about 30 minutes. Check and see if the bread has crisped and looks caramelized. If not, bake a little longer.

Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edge of each ramekin, then invert onto individual plates.

Make a circle of caramel sauce around the charlotte. Make drips of creme anglaise in the caramel sauce and then take a toothpick and run it in a circle around the plate and through each drip of creme anglaise to make the heart shapes.

Caramel Sauce
This makes more than you need. It can be stored in the fridge and rewarmed. Tastes great over ice cream too.

1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C water
pinch of salt
1 C heavy cream

Combine sugar, water and salt in a heavy bottomed (small) saucepan. Dissolve sugar over low heat. Then increase the heat to high and cook without stirring until the sugar is a golden amber color. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down the sides of the pan to prevent sugar from crystallizing. (Be patient, this takes a while, but don't turn your back because the after the sugar turns amber, it quickly burns).

Remove from heat and slowly stir in cream a little at a time. Return to heat if necessary.

Creme Anglaise
3 egg yolks
2 oz sugar
1 C milk
1 t vanilla extract

Combine yolks and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Whip until thick and light.

Scald milk. Temper the egg yolks mixture (add a little hot milk to yolks and beat it up, add a little more milk, until you raise the temp of the yolks without cooking them). Then add yolk mixture to remaining milk, whisking to combine. Heat over a water bath stirring constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Strain into a bowl. Cool over an ice bath. Stir in vanilla.


LinknKnits said...

If you want more practice with these, you can come make them at my house! They look both delicious and beautiful! :-)

Anonymous said...

And thanks for taking the time to type up the long recipes. It's great to be able to call them up (as I often do).

Anonymous said...

So how do you make the designs with the sauce -- especially the little hearts in the second photo?

Anonymous said...

Oh, OK, never mind; I just saw the paragraph that I apparently skipped the first time. Still, I imagine it takes far more skill than just dipping a toothpick.