Apple Trifle with Calvados and Caramel Apples
In a blink of an eye I went from frantic pre-Christmas mayhem to mid-January. Curse you lazy summer days and your leisurely wine-friendly afternoons! In any case, if it’s not too late to say, I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and new year. It’s the summer school holidays now in Oz which means I have ample opportunity to be super lazy for a bit. But now it’s really time to boot myself up the arse. And this is the perfect first recipe to kickstart the year (resolutions be damned!). For the last few months, I’ve had nothing but apple trifle on my mind. Ever since I tasted an amazing toffee apple version with apple cider jelly from Lisa of Spicy Ice Cream and then just recently at Christmas, when my brother took over the dessert reins and gave us a booze-soaked trifle of Apple and Calvados. Which sadly I had to limit my intake of because I’m the cheapest drunk in the world. Now with the holiday craziness over, it was definitely the right time to create this apple trifle for myself (oh yes, ALL for me thank you very much).
I admit I’ve never been big on trifles for most of my life which I blame on all those terrifying concoctions of yesteryear that consisted of instant Birds custard, bland jelly, soggy sponge laced with cheap rocket-fuel alcohol, jam or overly sweet fruit mush and that scary super-white whipped cream that you see on cheap supermarket cakes. Now I’ve seen the light; a good freshly-made trifle really is a thing of beauty.
Every spoonful of this is amazing; soft brown sugar sponge, stewed apples in an indulgent Calvados and cinnamon-spiced caramel, rich vanilla custard, lightly whipped cream and crispy Calvados caramelised almonds. I know the recipe seems like a bit of work but I assure you that each step really doesn’t take long to do. Plus other than the whipped cream, all of the elements can be done ahead and chilled in the fridge until required. Then all it takes is a minute or two to put it all together. Believe me, your effort will be richly rewarded.
Apple Trifle with Calvados and Caramel Apples
4 large eggs
50g brown sugar
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or scraped beans from 1 vanilla bean)
125g plain flour, sifted
2 Tbl / 30g butter, melted and cooled
100g flaked almonds
30g / 2 Tbl caster sugar
15ml / 1 Tbl Calvados
4 egg yolks
70g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste or extract)
110g caster sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 large apples – peeled, cored and diced into 1.5cm chunks (granny smith or braeburn)
300ml pouring cream
1 Tbl caster sugar (or to taste but bear in mind the trifle is already sweet from the caramel apples etc)
1 tsps vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
About 50-80ml Calvados to drizzle over the sponge (optional if you like trifles super boozy)
For the sponge, preheat oven to 160°C. In an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, sugars and vanilla on high speed for a few minutes or until it has tripled in volume and is pale and thick. Gently fold in the sifted flour then the melted butter until just combined. Pour into a Swiss roll tin or 25cm square cake pan lined with baking paper. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Can be done ahead and stored in an airtight container lined with baking paper.
For the almonds, increase the oven temperature and preheat to 170°C. Mix the almonds, sugar and Calvados together in a bowl then spread them out onto a lined baking tray. Toast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. You might have to check it halfway and toss it about a bit to make sure they’re all browning evenly. When cool enough to touch, separate any clusters of almond and set aside to cool completely. Can be done ahead and stored in an airtight container.
For the custard, whisk together the egg yolks and a third of the sugar in a bowl. In a pan, heat the milk and cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla seeds. As soon as it comes to a simmer, pour a bit of the milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly as you do. Tip this mixture through a strainer back into the pot.
Stir the custard constantly over a low heat with a wooden spoon until the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon (78°C / 170°F on a candy thermometer). This can take at least 10 minutes but do not be tempted to turn up the heat. Remove from heat, strain into a container, cover the surface with cling wrap then cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight (custard will thicken further when cold).
For the apples, place the Calvados, water and sugar in a heavy based pan over low heat and stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, bring to a boil and cook until a deep golden colour (as soon as it starts to colour, keep an eye on it because it won’t take too long to burn). Carefully pour in the cream and stir together until combined. Stir in the cinnamon. Add the apples, stir to coat in the caramel and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until apples has softened a little but has still retained a bit of bite. Remove from heat to cool to room temperature. The liquid will thicken upon cooling.
For the cream, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla into soft peaks and chill until required.
Slice sponge cake into 2cm thick slices then place into the bottom of a large trifle bowl or 6-8 individual glasses. If you want a boozy trifle, drizzle a bit of Calvados over the sponge and leave to soak for at least 20 minutes. Otherwise top with the apples, drizzling a little of the appley caramel sauce over the sponge. Add the custard and then finally the cream into even layers then scatter the almonds over the top (or feel free to drizzle extra caramel over the cream before the almonds). Chill before serving.
Citrus and Candy http://www.citrusandcandy.com/