Every Autumn, I get an insatiable craving for all things apple, which I imagine is embedded in my brain from growing up in a town that celebrates the fruit every year with the annual Kentucky Apple Festival. Festival goers crowd the streets of Paintsville, Kentucky every year during the first weekend in October to celebrate the harvest while the smells of apple butter, apple pie and a number of other confections fill the air. Country music concerts seem to be happening around every corner, there's always a carnival, the parade is not to be missed and the atmosphere is buzzing with generous hospitality and a sense of homecoming that only occurs when friends and family are reunited at home. It's no wonder that I feel a little homesick when Fall comes around and start looking for new ways I can enjoy the familiar taste and smell of apples.
My obsession this year seems to be the apple crumble, which I've discovered lends itself to creativity and is pretty much the easiest thing in the world to make for dessert if you have a bit of time to get it ready. The salted caramel sauce is a departure from the traditional toppings of cream or custard and is a throwback to the caramel apples I used to make, eat and sell at the Kentucky Apple Festival to raise money for the local 4-H club of which I was a member as a kid… I miss those caramel apples every year, but this is a nice little compromise and a deliciously decadent dessert that warms you up and satisfies your sweet tooth!
For the filling...
4 medium sized tart apples or cooking apples such as Bramley or Granny Smith
Juice of 1/2 a small orange
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
25 grams unsalted butter
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the crumble…
1/2 cup self-rising flour
For the salted caramel sauce
75g unsalted butter
50g soft light brown sugar
50g caster sugar
50g golden syrup
125ml double cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or sea salt flakes
1. To prepare the filling, first peel and core the apples and then cut them into small, thin slices. Add the apple pieces along with all the other filling ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan that will fit everything over medium or medium-low heat. Gently heat and stir the mixture until the liquid starts to bubble a bit and then reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook, stiring occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes, allowing the mixture to caramelize and the apples to soften.
2. Split the apple filling between four ramekins or small oven-proof bowls and put in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
3. Now you can make the crumble. Pour the 1/2 cup of self-rising flour into a mixing bowl and add the 50 grams of butter. Using either your fingers or a pastry blender, blend the flour with the butter until you have uneven crumbs that look like little shards of flour. Put in the refrigerator to cool in a container on its own until you are ready to bake the crumbles.
4. When you're ready, sprinkle the crumble mixture on top of the apple filling in the ramekins. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 190°C for 25 minute or until golden brown on top and completely soft inside.
5. To make the salted caramel sauce, melt the butter, light brown sugar, caster sugar and golden syrup in a non-stick, wide frying pan on low heat and do not stir. You can however, gently swirl the pan as needed. Once the mixture is melted down, allow it to bubble away for about 3 minutes or so before slowly pouring in the double cream, swirling once or twice as you go. Finally, add the salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for another minute or two and then remove from the heat and immediately pour into a serving jug, or individual-sized serving jugs if you have them and keep warm for serving. Allow 5-10 minutes before serving as the sauce is very, very hot.
6. Simply serve while hot or still warm in the individual sized ramekins with the sauce alongside for pouring on top and enjoy!