Ok, this is one of my favorite winter desserts, when nothing is in season but apples. Plus it’s easy. And it impresses people because the thought of making any rendition of caramel strikes fear in most people’s hearts. Play on that, use it to your advantage, and people will eat out of your hand (and kitchen) for the rest of your life.
Start with a couple of granny smith apples. Use these because tarter apples hold up better to cooking and don’t break down quite as easily as something like an apple that’s great to eat normally, such as Gala or Honeycrisp. Granny Smith apples are usually cheap too! Anyway, you’ll want to peel them. I used my paring knife because I’m so lazy that I couldn’t be bothered to hand wash the vegetable peeler that I used the previous night to make the same thing. Oh the woes of entertaining.
Ok, now you’re ready to start preparing your pan. Get a heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven. There’s nothing that I like to use more than antique cast iron. It helps keep the peaky nature of my flat top electric range in check. Plus it’s easy to clean, oh, and I feel better than everyone else when I’m using a pan that’s older than almost everyone I know.
You’ll want to melt some butter in the pan. 1/3 stick or so. I’m terrible at measuring. To your melted butter, add some(maybe 1/2 cup?) brown sugar (this gives you some wiggle room in regards to whether you’re actually caramelizing anything or just melting the sugar. Put simply, it makes your cooking window bigger so you don’t burn shit. To the brown sugar, add cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, freshly grated nutmeg, whatever flavorings you like on apples or in apple pie.
Under no circumstances do you want to leave the kitchen and go hang out in the gun room with your sweetheart and his friends at this stage. You’ll probably end up with a house full of sugar smoke and a big mess on your hands. Ask me how I know. Instead, stay in the kitchen, and cut the apples into 8 or 12 slices each. Stir around the butter sugar mixture and add a few tablespoons of a tasty liquor of your choice. Things that come to mind are brandy, rum, & whiskey. Whatever you have on hand. Add your apple slices and let them sit for a few minutes.
Using a fork, or tongs or whatever you feel comfortable with, flip the apples over when they’ve softened up on the bottom and begun to cook. Let them simmer for a few minutes to reduce some of the liquid in the pan. You can pull tiny bits of the syrup out and cool it (thoroughly!) and taste it/check the texture every now and again until you begin to feel comfortable with caramelization and temperatures. If you’re super nervous, you can use a candy thermometer and cook it til below soft ball stage.
Now scoop some vanilla ice cream into a few bowls (we had 3 this time, 4 would have worked too) then scoop the apples into each bowl and pour some sauce on top. Then enjoy. 🙂