More elegant than a baked apple yet healthier (and faster to make) than apple pie, this sautéed dish is a great way to satisfy a sophisticated sweet tooth. If you want to indulge even further, it’s amazing over a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream.
For the apple sauté
- 8 -10 shelled almonds
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 Macoun, Granny Smith, or Gala apples, cored
- 1 tablespoon walnut or grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup apple cider, a liqueur like Poire Williams, or a sweet wine like Sauternes
- 1/2 teaspoon All-American Gingerbread Spice (recipe below)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- Cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese, to taste
For the All-American Gingerbread Spice
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese
- 2 tablespoons allspice
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Toast the almonds in a small sauté pan for 3-5 minutes. When they’re cool enough to handle, chop coarsely and set aside. Using a microplane grater, zest the lemon half, setting aside the zest. On a cutting board, slice the apples horizontally into circles about one-half-inch thick, and then squeeze the juice from the lemon half over them. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the apples in one layer (do this in batches if needed to avoid crowding). Sauté for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the slices have released all their juices and feel tender when pricked with a knife tip, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, lift the apples from the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Add the lemon zest, cider/liqueur/wine, gingerbread spice, and vanilla to the pan and rapidly boil down to a syrup, whisking constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the apples, and top with the chopped almonds and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Pulverize the cloves in a coffee bean grinder and transfer to a small bowl along with the other spices. Whisk to combine and funnel into an airtight glass jar. Note: Wipe out the grinder very well to remove all traces of cloves.
Yields 2 servings.