“What’s old is new again!” That adage applies to theatre, design, and fashion, and certainly to food. Look at all those revivals making their way back to Broadway. (I adored Alan Cumming in the Roundabout’s latest production of Cabaret.) And, who could have foreseen that mid-century modern furniture would command such hefty prices today. (I naively discarded a late 40s chair that my parents had owned a few decades too early.) Oh, and those Audrey Hepburn-style dresses that abound in trendy shops everywhere were just as beloved when I was growing up. As a cook, I love to revive and tweak dishes from my past. That’s what I did several days ago when I pulled out a recipe for a delectable apple and prune crisp I first made more than 25 years ago.
For this dessert diced apples and brandy-soaked prunes are baked under a crumbly cover of crushed walnuts, butter, sugar, and flour until the fruit mixture beneath is hot and juicy and the topping golden and crunchy. During the last few minutes of baking the crisp is sprinkled with cheddar cheese that melts and melds into the crust.
I made this dessert several times last week, first in its original form and then to reduce the sugar slightly. Both were delicious, but the latter with its more subtle sweet notes was my favorite and is featured here. I also garnished my latest version with some whipped cream scented with brandy used to soak the prunes—just a little more fine-tuning for my 21st century revival.
A TIP FROM A READER DEC 6, 2016
Recently, Helen Nichols who is editor in chief at Well-Being Secrets (http://www.well-beingsecrets.
You know the saying, “An apple a day…….”
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Apple Crisp with Brandied Prunes
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup water
1 cup pitted prunes, quartered
6 large apples, such as McIntosh or Granny Smith (about 3 pounds)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3/ 4 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
6 tbsp chilled butter, diced plus extra for the baking dish
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
Fresh mint sprigs
1. Arrange a rack at the center position, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. F. Butter a 9- by 13-in baking dish.
2. Filling: Place 1/4 cup sugar, brandy and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the quartered prunes. Let soak for 10 minutes. Then drain reserving 1 tablespoon of the liquid.
3. Peel, core, and cut apples into 1-inch cubes. Place them in a large bowl along with the prunes, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and vinegar. Mix well. Spread the mixture evenly into the baking dish. (The crisp can be prepared up to 1 hour ahead to this point. Leave at room temperature.)
4. Topping: Combine the flour, light brown sugar, butter, and walnuts in a medium bowl.
Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles pea-sized clumps. Then sprinkle evenly over the fruit.
5. Bake until the topping is golden and crisp, and fruit beneath tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 35 to 40 minutes. Retain oven temperature. Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle cheese over the topping. Return to the oven to melt the cheese, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and cool 5 minutes.
6. While the crisp is in the oven, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved brandy soaking liquid, and beat a few seconds more to incorporate.
7. Serve the warm crisp with generous dollops of brandied cream. If desired, garnish each serving with a mint sprig. Serves 6 to 8.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2014