My friend, Cathy, invited me to a potluck Christmas party, but, what a party. This was a party for the Sisters in Crime, a group of women mystery writers. We were treated to the published authors reading from their newest books.
When we originally talked about this, I was going to make Scrambled Burger Quiche, but I never made it to the store, so there I was with another mystery on my hands – what could I make that would be simple, quick, and stunning with what I had on hand.
I looked in the refrigerator and saw I had a package of cream cheese, 4 apples, eggs and Panko bread crumb topping left over from Cranberry Brown Betty. Amber had made a wonderful Gorgonzola Pear tart for Thanksgiving, and that was what gave me the idea to make this tart. Mystery solved! Apple Cream Cheese Tart coming up!
I just love marzipan. It is so forgiving, easy to work with, and delicious. As a child living in Germany, I remember every year at Christmas time, the bakeries would put out a nativity scene made from marzipan, with the structures made from gingerbread. These were true artisans. So, when I decided to make a Jolly Roger cake, I wanted to do something in that tradition.
Originally, I was going to make large cannon (rum) balls for Spane’s pirate themed party, but I soon realized that I could not put a candle on them the same way I could a cake. I still made the rum balls, and they turned out wonderful as well.
Making the cake was easy. I used my standard chocolate cake recipe, using Hershey’s Dark Cocoa, with the addition of a little Chipotle powder and Saigon cinnamon. Black food coloring made for an intensely dark chocolate.
A few weeks ago, I bought a package of dried apples at the local Armenian store, just to have as a snack for Spane. It’s beginning to get cold again, so I’ve been thinking about baking. I already made Apple Brown Betty that turned out a little too brown because I should have removed one of the racks in Bertha. I thought of making a Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting, but it got too hot to do that. So, today, I’m still thinking about baking something when I remember about the dried apples.
My Apple Brown Betty with “Red Hots” Sauce won third prize at the annual Dessert and Appetizer Fil-Am Kiwanis competition. Last year, I won first place for Chicken Liver Pate with Cornichons and Blue Cheese Butter. Last year I won $200.00, this year, because of the economy, the first prize was only $100.00, so my third prize was $50.00 – I don’t mind about the money, getting the recognition was enough for me.
I have been making Apple Brown Betty all winter. I love the simplicity, and the warm comfort food quality of it. In the past, I threw out the peels – this time I did something different and fried them then dusted them with sugar and cinnamon before putting them on top of the finished Brown Betty. They were fantastic!
Recipe: Apple Brown Betty with “Red Hots” Sauce
Ingredients for Apple Brown Betty
3/4 cup Brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon Mace
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg freshly grated
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon ground
1/4 cup Dried cranberries
1 Armenian Raisin Bread
1/4 teaspoon Sea salt
1/2 cup Butter melted
1 tablespoon Butter cut up
Ingredients for Deep Fried Apple Peels
1 tablespoon Flour
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Ingredients for Red Hots Sauce
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract DO NOT use imitation Vanilla
1 teaspoon Cayenne
1/2 teaspoon Rum flavor
Apple Brown Betty
Preheat oven to 350.
Peel the apples, and reserve the peels. Core and chop up the apples into 1 inch pieces. Put the apples into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, cranberries and melted butter. Put the raisin bread into a food processor and process into crumbs. Put almost all the crumbs into the bowl. Mix all well. Put into 1 quart casserole dish. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until apples have softened. Remove from the oven,
Apple Brown Betty
Heat oil in a frying pan. Dredge the peels in the flour. Fry in oil until they have crisped then remove and dust with sugar and cinnamon. Place on top of Betty for garnish.
Red Hots Sauce
Mix sugar and flour in a small pot. Stir in water. Cook gently stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Add butter and simmer 6-8 more min. Remove from heat. Whisk in cinnamon rum flavor, cayenne and vanilla. Makes one and a half cups.
Serve warm. This is very good with “Red Hot Sauce” and ice cream.
If you can’t find good Armenian Raisin bread, then use Panettone, and soak some extra raisins in a little water with a tiny bit of cardamom. If you can’t get Panettone, then use regular raisin bread, but reduce the amount of cinnamon.
You could also make this Betty in a a Nesco oven, leaving your regular oven available for other dishes. Yeah, Nesco!