This recipe comes from the cookbook Cognac and Modern Cuisine by French cookery writer Françoise Barbin-Lécrevisse, who comes from the Charentes region of France. Charentes is home to cities such as Cognac and Jarnac, where the fine spirit known as cognac was born. While most often enjoyed as an aperitif or digestif, cognac also lends itself well to gastronomy. According to Barbin-Lécrevisse, "In cooking, cognac cannot be equalled in flambées. It's strength balances the art of fine cuisine as sweet as sour. Its bouquet imprints its mark on numerous desserts and is sublimely enhanced when combined with chocolate. A little added at the end of cooking will subtly heighten the flavours of the dish." She adds that "all the cooks in the Charentes have a flask of cognac in their kitchens."
Caramelized Apples with Brandy Butter
Preparation: 15 minutes Cooking time: a few minutes You'll need:
150g softened unsalted butter 100g icing sugar 3-4 tbsp cognac (40-60ml) 800g large firm dessert apples (such as the Golden variety, as it doesn't fall apart during cooking) 100 g unsalted butter cut into strips 60 g caster sugar Serves 4
To make the brandy butter: - Whisk the butter with an electric beater to make it as soft as possible - Slowly add the sugar, whisking until mixture is creamy. Add the cognac and continue whisking until smooth - Chill for a firmer result, or leave out at room temperature if you prefer creamier brandy butter To caramelize the apples: - Peel and cut the apples into medium-sized slices. Distribute the strips of butter over the surface of a large non-stick frying pan and sprinkle them over the sugar in a thick, even layer. Arrange the apple slices on top and place the frying pan over a high heat until the apples have begun to caramelize. Turn the slices to evenly caramelize them, taking care that the butter and sugar are not allowed to burn. - Once cooked, transfer the apples onto four plates - Serve at once with a dab of brandy butter in the middle or on the side Note: Brandy butter or beurre de cognac can be kept for several days in the fridge. Be careful though as it could lose some of its powerful flavour if over-chilled. Source: Cognac and Modern Cuisine: Fuss Free Gourmet Recipes by Françoise Lécrevisse-Barbin
Text: Bambina Olivares Wise