When I saw Gordon Ramsay making this Caramel Apple Compote with Creamy Whip on the tele yesterday morning, I knew precisely what I’d be making for dessert that night. After all, who can resist apples cooked in caramel and topped with a light as air creamy topping?
It’s a simple dessert, although it involves making a dry caramel, which can be a bit tricky for those new to the technique. While I am confident with making caramel, I must confess I had something of an issue with the caramel seizing into large nuggets of toffee when I added the apples. Momentary panic ensured, but common sense suggested that I simply keep the mixture at a good simmer so that eventually the hard bits of toffee melted and that’s exactly what happened. That wee hiccup aside, the rest of the recipe (found on Hungry Forever.com) was super easy.
And did I mention, delicious? As simple as it is, it’s undeniably tasty, thanks largely to the dark caramel flavour permeating every aspect of the dessert. The apples are cooked in caramel and the cream whip is also folded through with apple caramel (i.e. the liquid remains of the cooked apples). Obviously, it tends towards sweetness, but it’s saved by two things – firstly, the caramel itself which, if taken to the right level of cooking, is rich and complex; secondly, the apples, which combine both tart and dessert varieties.
The cream whip is the crowning glory, reclining lusciously on top of the stewed apples. It’s a combo of cream, egg whites, sugar and, as I mentioned before, apple caramel. Truth be told, the cream should ‘drape’ over the apples rather than sit stiffly on top – my bad for over-whipping the cream! That said, the cream was still as light as air, and no-one was the wiser.
If you’re after a simple dessert that is both homely and delicious, you can’t go past this one. Enjoy!
- 250g (8.8 oz) caster (superfine) sugar, divided
- 2 large dessert apples e.g. Braeburn peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
- 2 large Bramley (or Granny Smith) apples peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
- 3cm (just over an inch) piece of fresh root ginger peeled and thickly sliced
- 3 small cinnamon sticks
- 75g (2.6 oz) butter
- 2 free-range egg whites
- 250ml (8.4 fl oz) double (heavy) cream
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Place 200g of the sugar into a heavy based fry pan (a wider surface helps the sugar burn evenly). Let is sit on a low heat until you start seeing signs of it melting underneath – at that point, start dragging the sugar from the outside towards the centre with a metal spoon. Once the sugar has more or less melted, put the spoon away and start swirling the pan to distribute the caramel evenly. You're looking for a nice dark caramel, but don't let it burn!).
- When all the sugar has dissolved and the caramel is nice and dark, add the apples, ginger and cinnamon sticks and swirl so that everything is coated in the caramel (should your caramel seize, simply keep the mixture at a good simmer until the toffee bits melt). Turn the heat down to low and cook for around 5 minutes, then add the butter. Cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the apples are tender (the more you cook the softer the apples will get.
- Pour the apples into a sieve set over a bowl to drain. Reserve the liquid, as this will be added to your cream later, and set it aside at room temperature to cool.
- Remove the ginger and cinnamon from the apple mixture and let it cool to a point where it can be placed in your serving glasses (if you're in a hurry, put the bowl in the fridge to cool down). Once cooled, spoon the apples into 5 or 6 serving glasses (ensure there's enough height in the glass for a good serving of cream on top), and put them back into the refrigerator to chill.
- Once the apples have chilled, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Now whisk in the remaining sugar a little at a time, until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks.
- In a separate bowl, whip the cream until thickened and just reaching soft peaks (it's important you don't over-whip, as the result may be stiff and/or grainy). Add three-quarters of the lemon zest and gently mix through. Now, take the reserved apple/caramel puree (it should be fairly thick and syrupy) and fold it through the cream until just combined (you might want to keep some to drizzle over the top).
- Finally, gently fold the egg whites into the cream mixture until just combined.
- Spoon or pipe the cream mixture over each chilled glass of apple compote. Sprinkle over the remaining lemon zest. If making ahead, put the desserts back into the fridge to chill.
- Take the desserts out of the fridge about 5-10 minutes prior to serving and drizzle over any reserved apple/caramel puree.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting