Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Apple Showdown

Over the past several weeks, post-apple picking, I had the great fortune to attempt several new recipes. What else was I going to do with 25 pounds of apples? Each recipe was followed with only modifications for apple-sweetness (cut back on sugar if appropriate). All recipes were consumed in full, with the husband, and requests for seconds were made. 

This Showdown edition consists of: Buttercrunch Apple Pie, Salted Caramel Apple Tart, Homemade Apple Cider, Apple Chips, and Apple Sharlotka. Recipes were ranked on requests for seconds (and/or speed of consumption), ease of prep and cooking, and overall deliciousness. Although there is a ranking here, I highly recommend trying all these recipes. I'm positive some people will disagree with my choices, so please, try these out for yourself. 

Let the rankings begin!

  • 1st Place: Smitten Kitchen's Apple Sharlotka, or "Apple Thing". Using sweet apples, like Honeycrisp or Ambrosia, you can cut the sugar in half. Ridiculously easy recipe, deceptively decadent treat. Texture is almost similar to a clafouti. Not so much cake or custard, definitely not like a pie, it's soft, fluffy, and creamy all at once. I highly recommend giving it a try!
  • 2nd Place: Baker Bettie's Homemade Apple Cider. Crockpot users ahoy! This was really simple and very tasty. Using sweet apples, it didn't need any extra sugar and the house smelled ah-maz-ing. Don't skimp on the spices! (But do try to use whole spices instead of ground. It makes the final result much more tasty and easy to drink.)
  • 3rd Place: Sally's Baking Addiction Apple Chips. A pretty basic, healthy snack. Chop and bake. Having a mandolin would make prep a breeze, but a steady hand got the job done. I don't like that they take 3 hours to make, but they're a nice change from chips and crackers. Sugar is totally optional in this recipe. (We made these three times!)
  • 4th Place: Smitten Kitchen's Salted Caramel Apple Tart. Don't get me wrong. This is delicious. But there is a level of prep and skill involved here the top three don't require. If you're an experienced cook, try this out. Your mouth will be very happy.
  • 5th Place: Sugar Pie Farmhouse's Buttercrunch Apple Pie - Waaaaaay too sweet. Unnecessary amount of sugar in the recipe. No need for it in the crust, total overkill in the crumble topping. It really was just like eating solid blocks of sugar. Sorry, Aunt Ruthie! However, the apple filling is solid, especially the advice to use different kinds of apples (I used Empire, Granny Smith, Ambrosia, and Honey Crisp) and I would make it again, just using different crust and different topping.

Speaking of toppings, one I'd like to try soon on some unsuspecting pastry is the craquelin recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz. I think a lightly sweet crackle atop some otherwise predictable pastries could make for an extra special holiday treat.

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