Monday, September 24, 2012

When being a little nuts pays off

Case in point:

When I tell the family at camp about how I coerced my husband and kids into coming to their apple farm in order to relive my childhood last year?
This appears on my doorstep.

Even bigger case in point:

When a friend asks if I want to help with a new company he's starting out of his dining room*?
Two years later, we sell the company, help open the NASDAQ, and this appears in Times Square.

That's me, three stories high, on the right!

Yep.  Being a little crazy sometime pays off.
Big time.
How do you like them apples?

Big Time Big Apple Turnovers with Apple Caramel Sauce
Thanks to the generosity of the Young family, owners of Calico Ranch, and UPS I had a box full of early season Galas and Gravensteins to enjoy. Small, tart, and wonderfully crunchy, they cried out to be baked into something**.  But it had to be something easy, because I was, a) busy at work, and b) (temporarily) sick of pie. Fortunately, they do sell frozen puff pastry for people in my situation***.  

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed but still chilled
1 1/2-2 lbs. of crisp-tart apples, peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced.
Juice of 1 lemon, divided
3/4 c. sugar
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) butter, cut into slices
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
Splash of apple juice
Raw sugar

Preheat oven to 375.  You'll need two large baking sheets, and Silpats or parchment paper cut to fit.

Sprinkle the surface of the Silpat/parchment lightly with flour, then transfer one sheet of puff pastry to each one.  Gently roll out each sheet into a large rectangle, about 12"x 16".  Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut pastry into eight smaller rectangles, each about 4 x 6.  Place these, still on the sheets, carefully into the fridge to chill while you prepare the apples.

Squeeze half the lemon into a large bowl.  As you are peeling and slicing the apples, add them to the bowl with the lemon juice, stirring as you add more.  Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine sugar and butter, stirring as butter melts until combined and bubbling gently but not boiling. Add the apples and the lemon juice from the bowl, the juice from the other half of the lemon, the salt and the cinnamon.  Stir to coat the apples, and cook for 3-4 more minutes, until apples are warmed through and slightly tender.  Remove from the heat.

Take pastry out of the fridge.  Carefully spoon a portion of the apples into the center of half of the pastry squares on each sheet, leaving a good area clear around the apples.  Place the other pastry pieces on top, and gently seal edges by pressing gently with a fork or the edge of a spoon. Carefully cut three vents in the top of each pastry to allow steam to come out during cooking.

NOTE 1: By the way, the apples will be really juicy, the liquid may run all over your pastry, and your pastry rectangles might be all crooked and not match up.  Believe me, I know what I'm talking about here.  Frozen puff pastry is like some kind of cooking miracle, and covers up a multitude of sins.

NOTE 2:  You will likely have some apples and lots of sauce leftover.  Transfer the apples to a bowl and enjoy those as a cook's treat.  Continue cooking the sauce for a few more minutes, until it has reduced a bit, then pour the into a jar or other container.  You'll use some of it for serving, and refrigerate the rest for midnight snacks with a spoon, or as an awesome topping for ice cream.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg together with a splash of apple juice.  Brush the prepared pastries with the egg wash, then sprinkle with a little raw sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until turnovers are puffed and a deep golden brown.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and reserved apple caramel sauce.

Click to print this recipe!

* Here's what he invented. Cool, huh?

** This definitely takes Cook My Mailbox to a whole new level.

*** Or any other "need an impressive dessert in about 30 minutes" situation you might find yourself in.


  1. I love it!. Cooking in an 'Easy Bake Oven was pretty much the extent of my childhood baking experience so this is perfect.

    I'm guessing once the box of apples is gone you'll be making a trip to Julian.