:: I had gathering of dear friends over for dinner last night – one of my best friends, her boyfriend, her parents and my mum. I’ve known Nicole since high school and her family are like my second family, so it was lovely to get everyone together for lots of good wine, lots of great conversation and many hilarious anecdotes.
Nic is lactose intolerant, so whenever she comes over for dinner I try to make a dessert that’s dairy-free friendly. This is a lot harder to do than you may think, considering the majority of desserts out there seem to contain cream in one form or another. But in the end I decided on baked apples with pecan caramel toffee and a frangipane filling – with a side of lactose-free ice cream, of course!
Adapted from the July 2012 issue of delicious. magazine
1/2 cup castor sugar
140g unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup almond meal
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp dark rum
6 granny smith apples
50g golden syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 150°C and lightly grease an oven tray.
Beat sugar and 90 grams of butter in an electric mixer until thick and pale. Add the egg and beat to combine. Fold in the almond meal, flour, cinnamon and rum.
Trim the bases of the apples so they all sit without rolling away. Using a melon baller or an apple corer scoop out the cores, ensuring you don’t cut through the base. This is really important, because the filling will leak out all over your baking tray if the bottoms are pierced.
Another important step is to place the tip of a sharp knife halfway up the sides of the apples and score a ring around the middle. This will stop the skin from bursting when baking.
Place the apples in your baking dish and fill with the frangipane batter, allowing two centimetres at the top for the frangipanes to rise. As you can see, I overfilled mine and the frangipane spilled over the sides of the apples as they rose. This is not too major an issue as it still tastes great and I like the rustic look but if you’re going for a neat, clean look make sure you leave room for rising.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until the apples are tender and the filling is golden brown. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 50 grams of butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until you have a golden caramel and add the chopped pecans. Swirl to coat all the nuts in the caramel toffee mixture.
Plate your apples and drizzle over the caramel toffee while it’s still hot and drizzly. Serve topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. The combination of hot sweetness, crunchy nuts and cold melting ice cream is heavenly!