Have you noticed that some restaurants are using no more than three or four words to describe a dish on its menu? Sometimes you just get a couple of nouns to try and work out what you’re going to get served up. Very minimalist and mysterious indeed. This is in stark contrast to that phase a few years back when restaurants dedicated a paragraph to every item. I’m glad to see the end of that. I mean, who needs to know where the spinach came from, whether it’s wilted or not, and the nationality of the butter in which the spinach was wilted?
Yes, an air of mystery agrees with diners it seems. We all like surprises (mostly) and being given as little information as possible makes for a fun dining experience. With Heston Blumenthal and molecular gastronomy getting more mainstream exposure, people are open to more than just a simple fork-to-mouth meal. We enjoy the challenge of smelling it, observing it, poking it (if warranted) and taking guesses at what we might be eating well before our tastebuds get a chance to relay more information to our brain. It’s definitely fun to eat with your eyes and nose.
All this has little to do with my dish which is as straightforward as they come, but as I was stuck for a title, I decided to take a leaf out of the book of minimalism and present you with a three-noun dessert: Apple Cinnamon Cheese. I’d be curious as to what other people conjure up with these words for a sweet dessert.
This is a dessert that I’ve always wanted to try and is loosely based on a recipe by Elizabeth Falkner (Demolition Dessert). As soon as I read it, I fell in love with the flavour marriage (actually there are three key flavours so it will be one of *those* marriages… he he). Sweet, tart caramelised apple with crunchy, sharp cheesy crumbs on a mountain of creamy, spiced ice cream.
I started with the crumble mix which is essentially a lovely crumbly, buttery biscuit base with Red Leicester cheddar cheese and walnuts mixed into it. This stuff is amazingly good to eat on its own too. I then made a batch of tarte tatin style apple with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. Earlier in the day, I got together ingredients for a basic cinnamon ice cream in my Thermomix.
I was tempted to try a haute cuisine presentation with these ingredients but in the end, I made the dessert up as a verrine. If you can time things well so that the crumble and apple are still a bit warm, it makes for an amazing combo with the cold, creamy ice cream. I’m also thinking that this might be one heck of an ice cream itself with the apple and crumbs mixed through.
Definitely one to try on some winter dinner party guests.
Apple Cinnamon Cheese
1/2 plain flour
1/3 caster sugar
125g butter (still cool)
pinch of salt
1/3 cup grated cheddar (choose one with a sharp taste like Red Leicester)
1/3 cup crumbled walnut pieces
To make: Pre-heat oven to 180C. Combine first five ingredients together in a food processor and process until crumbly. Spread out on a baking tray and sprinkle cheese and walnuts on top. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then remove briefly and flip over the crumble mix. Bake for a further 15 minutes until nicely browned. Allow to cool before crumbling up.
Apple Tarte Tatin
2 apples (peeled, cored and cut into large, bite-size pieces – Pink Lady is ideal but any tart, crisp apple will do)
pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg
30g of butter
To make: In a bowl, place apple pieces, sugar and spices and mix together well. Melt butter in small frypan and one melted and pan at a medium heat, place apples in pan. Allow heat to start caramelising the sugar but keep your eyes on it! Once apples are nicely brown and caramelised, take off heat and allow to cool.
Cinnamon Ice Cream
I made my ice cream using the Thermomix recipe + cinnamon but as a super simple method, you can just get some supermarket vanilla ice cream and allow to soften out of freezer for a while, then empty content into a food processor and blend with some cinnamon (to your taste). Refreeze ice cream. Don’t let the ice cream get too soft though or it might get icy on refreeze.