When I was a kid, Dad would sometimes haul an aged and decrepit waffle iron out of the closet on Saturday mornings and mix up batter to make brown crispy waffles for us kids. We'd get a stack of two or three waffles, a side of bacon or sausage links and a big glass of juice for breakfast. I always felt like the luckiest kid in the world for some reason. I can remember swinging my legs under the breakfast table in anticipation of watching gobs of butter melting in the little nooks and crannies of the waffles and chanting for more maple syrup when Dad divvied out the liquid gold.
Food memories are such powerful things!
I'm all grown up, but this Christmas when I unwrapped a big box from Sprout Eric I felt like a little girl again! There on my lap was a brand new shiny waffle iron! Not the old blackened waffle iron that Dad hauled out, but a new and improved model! We christened it the next morning when I made Spiced Pumpkin Waffles and had them with bacon and some maple syrup that our neighbors boiled down and gifted us. It was heaven!
This morning, though, I got to thinking about alternatives to maple syrup. The recipe for these sauteed apples was sitting in a section at the back of my new cook book on waffles (that Sprout Eric thoughtfully popped in another wrapped box!). What a revelation! Apples in their own syrup over waffles!
So ... I made a cup of tea, peeled several small apples, chunked them up, and sauteed them in just a bit of butter. The apples I used were rather soft, so I made bigger chunks so that they wouldn't turn to mush, but soften and hold their shape. They have just a small amount of cinnamon and nutmeg added for subtle spiciness. Not too much, as the star flavours are the apples and hard cider. Yup, hard cider.
When the apples were 'tip of the knife tender', I took them out of the pan and used the pan to make a hard cider and brown sugar syrup. There's a lot of cider in the syrup, but it gets boiled down by half and that's when the flavour really concentrates.
I wouldn't normally include this 'so-so' picture, but it really does show just how brisk this sauce needs to boil to a) completely bring into solution the brown sugar and b) quicken the reduction of the cider measure by half. It definitely bubbled and foamed and I kept pushing the sauce around the pan with the flat of the wooden spatula,as I didn't want a scorched sugar flavour sneaking in there!
And when it was thickened and syrupy, I added just a bit of cornstarch and water mix, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of Kosher salt. The syrup went over the sauteed apples and made a glossy, tangy, sweet topping for my buttermilk waffles. It was heaven!
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 apples, firm sweet apples work best here (about 1 ½ lb.)
⅛ tsp. cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of Kosher salt
1 ½ c. hard apple or pear cider
⅓ c. firmly packed light brown sugar
½ tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tsp. water
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Making the Sautéed Apples:
- Peel and core the apples. Cut them into small bited size chunks.
- Place 1 tbsp. of the butter measure in a large fry pan and melt it over medium high heat.
- When the butter is foaming, add the apples and shake them into a layer. Let them brown up a bit before tossing them around to brown the other sides.
- When the apples are just tender when poked with a sharp knife, turn them into a bowl and set them aside to a cool a bit.
- Place the hot pan back on the heat and add the brown sugar, the hard cider and a pinch of Kosher salt. Stir over high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling and foaming around the edges of the pan.
- Let the syrup develop as the cider mixture is reduced by half. It must boil vigorously. Stir it frequently, pushing the bubbles around the bottom of the pan and moving the syrup around a lot.
- When the syrup is reduced, add the cornstarch and water mixture and stir to thicken things up a bit more.
- Pour the hot syrup over the cooled apples, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and mix well to coat all the apples.
- Serve warm over waffles, ice cream, or some fun tea treat. Enjoy!
NOTE: If you don't have a waffle iron, I bet these apples would be just as delicious over a stack of pancakes !