Friday, November 11, 2016

Halloween 2016: Witchy Apples and Maple Leaves

This post is late- forgive me! I got distracted and haven't had a chance to put it together until now. But here's the good news: this makes a wonderful fall dessert and would be equally appropriate on the Thanksgiving table. :)

This year's Halloween costume: Lady Maple, Fae of Fallen Leaves. The yellow and orange leaves in the parks near my house and big bunches of black and blue berries inspired me- how many people have to go foraging to get their Halloween costume together? ;) I felt like some kind of pixie-witch hybrid in my long crimson skirt stooping over a pan of simmering wine-poached apples, an intoxicating scent filling my house.

Apples have long been symbols of fertility and immortality and have shown up in fall celebrations since prehistory. Their rosy skins stay intact and plump through the winter offering the hope of spring to come. I wanted to do something especially witchy with them, so I made mulled wine poached apples with maple. I added a few extra herbs to the mix- rosemary (which has long signified remembrance for the dead- extra appropriate for Halloween), and foraged lemon balm for love, success, and healing. Some mulling spices and star anise finished the blend and these beautiful ruby-red apples simmered away on my stovetop, releasing the most bewitching of scents...

These ruby treats were served with vanilla yogurt, acorn almond lace cookies, a drizzle of reduced wine-maple syrup, and a generous dusting of dark chocolate shavings. Delightful. Here's the recipe if you want to try them yourself!

Acorn Almond Lace Cookies: Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with non-stick liners. Heat 5 Tbs. butter, 2 Tbs. maple syrup, and 1/3 c. sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Bring it to a boil and then remove from heat. Stir in 3 Tbs. flour and 3 Tbs. acorn flour and a pinch of salt, then stir in 1/2 c. ground blanched almonds. Drop the batter by the teaspoon on the non-stick baking sheets (be sure to leave lots of room, this stuff spreads!) Bake until they are evenly light brown, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool a bit before removing from the sheets. 

Spiced Wine-Poached Apples with Maple: 
Peel 7 small apples and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine: 

2 c. wine
1 c.  pom/cherry juice
sprinkle of mulling spices1 star anise 1 cinnamon stick 1/2 c maple syrup1/2 c waterrosemary sprigs
sprinkle of lemon balm 

And bring to a simmer. Gently add the apples, stirring and flipping occasionally, until they are dark red and tender (about half an hour.) Remove apples and strain the leftover liquid. Cook it down until it makes a thick syrup (about another half an hour) Use the syrup to top the apples and yogurt. 

Yogurt: This is as easy as stirring some vanilla bean scrapings or vanilla extract into high quality thick yogurt. You can sweeten it a little if you'd like, but the apples are fairly sweet so I didn't think it was necessary. 

To serve: Place a dollop of vanilla yogurt on each plate and top with a poached apple. Drizzle the reduced wine syrup over top and garnish with acorn lace cookies and dark chocolate shavings.