It was time to remedy the lack in The Messy Apron archives and make an apple dessert. I wanted something relatively quick for a relatively lazy Sunday. I also wanted to try using the Easy Cream Cheese Pastry I had made in the spring for a morel mushroom tart as the pastry for a dessert. I figured apple turnovers might bake up quicker than a whole big pie, or, if I just made a few of them, I at least wouldn’t have to peel and chop so many apples.
For the apples, I wanted to try something like a sautéed apple recipe from Deborah Madison’s Seasonal Fruit Desserts. I thought that if I cooked the apples before tucking them into the pastry, they could give off their liquid, and then absorb other flavors, such as apple brandy, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. I hoped they would then not make the crust soggy while baking.
I added raisins and dried cranberries to the apple mixture, allowing them to plump up in the apple brandy while the apples were cooking. They added a little more flavor, and some extra sweetness without using a lot of extra sugar. I used McIntosh apples that were fairly tart, so my little pies weren’t very sweet. (The thin glaze I put on them didn’t take them into the toothache range.) Macs also cook into a pretty soft filling.
I think you can use almost any variety of apple for baking. It all depends on how you like your finished apples: still firm, soft but holding their shape, just short of applesauce. I think you could customize this filling to highlight the way you like apples best. You could also add other dried fruits, such as apricots or cherries.
The pastry turned out to be a good match for this filling. The little pies were crisp and sturdy without any cardboard quality whatsoever, and could be picked up and eaten without a fork. It isn’t the absolute flakiest pie crust I’ve ever made, but it’s so quick and easy to put together with a heavy-duty mixer that I don’t mind the slight compromise. The crust did get soft on the turnovers I put aside for Monday’s dessert, but they were still tasty, especially warmed a bit and served with some Ginger Spice Ice Cream.
Well, that’s got the number of apple desserts in the Apple Recipes file up to two. And I’ve got a lot more apples waiting in the wings, ready to star in a few more.
Easy Cream Cheese Pastry
Adapted from a recipe in Midwest Living Magazine
4 ounces cream cheese (I used the 1/3-less fat variety), at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer. Beat at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. (You may also be able to mix this crust together by hand. I haven’t tried it.)
2. Add the whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour. Beat on low speed until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture comes together into a moist ball.
3. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or freeze 15-20 minutes before using.
Makes enough dough for 4 turnovers
Apple Turnovers with Dried Fruit
Inspired by a recipe for sautéed apples in Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison.
Have the pastry chilling before beginning the filling. You can probably use apple cider in place of the brandy.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups chopped apple (about 1-1 ½ inch cubes)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries (such as Craisins)
¼ cup apple brandy (such as Apple Jack or Calvados)
1 recipe Easy Cream Cheese Pastry, chilled (or other pastry of your choice)
1/3 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tablespoon apple juice or cider
egg wash (1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, milk or cream)
1. Melt the butter in a skillet (one that has a lid) over medium heat. Add the apples, and brown sugar. Shake the pan or stir gently to distribute the sugar and butter evenly and coat the apples. Cook just until the sugar is melted and dissolved into the butter and emerging apple juices, just a few minutes.
2. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, dried cranberries, and apple brandy. Stir together.
3. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes or until the apples are very tender and the liquid is syrupy.
4. Uncover and cook a minute or so more, or until the liquid has reduced to nearly nothing. Remove from the heat.
5. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll the pastry on a well-floured surface into an approximately 12-inch rectangle. Take some time to make straight edges. Cut the rectangle into 4 equal squares. Place the squares on a lined baking sheet.
6. Divide the apple mixture into 4 equal portions. Spoon one portion onto one diagonal half of each pastry square. Brush the edges of the squares with egg wash. Fold the unfilled side of each square over the filling to form a triangle and press to seal the edges. Crimp the edges together with a fork to seal well. Cut 2-3 small slits in the top of the dough (I used a kitchen shears to snip the holes). Brush the top of each turnover with egg wash.
7. Bake the turnovers at 400 F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool.
8. When the pastry has cooled (the inside can still be a little warm), combine the powdered sugar and apple juice in a small bowl. Whisk until very smooth. Drizzle some of the glaze over each turnover. Allow the glaze to dry before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Other recipes like this one: Apple and Cranberry Crisp, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
One year ago: Toasting and Skinning Hazelnuts and Guinness Hazelnut Quick Bread