This is one of my go-to winter desserts — simple, seasonal apples baked until soft and tender with butter and spices, served with a silky custard sauce. When the holidays roll around, I like offering fruit as an option when pies and cakes and puddings and cobblers seem like just too much.
Delicious on their own, these apples paired with custard sauce make for a humble, yet remarkable addition to any festive occasion. The sauce also pairs well with cakes and pies. (I confess to eating it with a spoon, as well.) If you prefer to make only the apples, serve them with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Baked apples with vanilla custard
Makes 6 servings
Vanilla Custard Sauce:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
6 medium Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
Light brown sugar, as needed
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, as needed
Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling (optional)
To make the custard sauce:
1. Combine the cream and milk in a medium saucepan; scrape vanilla seeds into milk mixture and add the pod to the pan. Bring milk to a low boil; turn off heat and let vanilla steep in the warm milk mixture while making the rest of the custard.
2. Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl; whisk vigorously for a minute or so until mixture turns thick and pale yellow. Remove vanilla pod from milk mixture and gradually add hot milk into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return mixture to the saucepan and stir over medium heat (do not let boil), about 4 minutes or until custard thickens slightly and coats back of wooden spoon. It will thicken more as it cools. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Let chill until ready to serve.
To make baked apples:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the apples.
2. Core apples all the way through; place in dish, taking care so that apples do not touch (otherwise they will stick together when baked). Score apples, using knife point, about 1/2-inch down from top, all the way around apple. This will help apple skins from bursting. Fill each cored center with brown sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter. Squeeze lemon juice all over and sprinkle, if desired, with cinnamon. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until apples are puffed and center is tender when pierced with a knife; some of the skins might burst, but not to worry, especially once you pour the vanilla custard sauce over them.
Serve baked apples with vanilla custard sauce poured on top and more served on the side, or with vanilla ice cream.
Recipe from "A Mouthful of Stars" by Kim Sunée, with photos by Leela Cyd
Kim Sunée is the bestselling author of "Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home" and "A Mouthful of Stars." Her new book, "Everyday Korean," is just out. For more food and travel, visit kimsunee.com and instagram/kimsunee
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