Appeltjes onder de deken

Sometimes recipes are hard to resist: either they have adorable names, or they are made with delectable ingredients. This week's recipe combines both: the name of the dish is Appeltjes onder de deken, meaning "little apples under the blanket", and the dessert dish has both apples and a thick, creamy, vanilla sauce, a winning combination. How can you say no!?

These "tucked in apples" as this recipe is aptly called, make use of a staple in the Dutch household: apples. It's a perfect dessert to get in the oven as you dish up the evening meal: by the time you are done and the plates are cleared, your apples will be baked and ready to be served. They are wonderful eaten warm, but will do just well at room temperature.

Apples are not foreign to the Dutch kitchen. We love our apple pie, apple turnovers, apple beignets and appelbollen! It should therefore not be surprising that yearly, over 300 million kilos of apples are harvested in the Netherlands. Of all those apples, a whopping half were of the Elstar variety alone. It is easily the most popular apple among the Dutch.

The Elstar apple was developed in the city of Elst, in the province of Gelderland, by a man called Arie Schaap. The Elstar combines the name of the city and the two first letters of Arie's name, in his honor. Since the apple's introduction in the seventies, it has quickly become a Dutch favorite and continues to be so to this day. The Elstar is a red and green apple, with creamy white flesh and a sweet and slightly tart taste, and is a cross between the Golden Delicious and the Ingrid Marie apple.

Other traditional Dutch varieties, which are becoming more and more difficult to find, are Notarisappel, Groninger Kroon, Sterappel, Dubbele Zoete Aagt, Eijsdener Klumpke and the more accessible Boskoop apple, also know as Goudreinet. This last one was developed in  1853 in Boskoop (South-Holland) by fruitgrower P.A. Ottolander. 

Elstar apples are hard to come by here in the United States, so I've used little Gala apples instead. The Elstar has a sweeter taste but the Gala will do for tucking in, so to say. If you have space in your garden, you may consider planting an Elstar tree or any of these other old fashioned Dutch varieties! It takes a bit of looking but they can be found at nurseries.

For this recipe, you traditionally do not peel the apples. I used a packaged vanilla pudding for the sauce, but you are welcome to use your favorite custard recipe, or vanilla vla, or make your own.

Appeltjes onder de deken
1/2 cup mixed dried fruits*
1/2 cup (125 ml) apple juice
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 small size Gala apples
2 packages vanilla pudding (cook and serve, 4.6oz/130gr each)
6 cups (1.5 liter) milk

Mix the dried fruits with the apple juice, brandy, brown sugar and the cinnamon stick and let it soak overnight if possible, but at least a few hours. 

The next day, heat the oven to 375F (190C) while you prepare the hot sauce. Wash the apples and cut in half, top to bottom. Remove the core (I use a teaspoon sized measuring spoon for a nice, even round). Pour half of the sauce on the bottom of a large baking tray - the tray has to hold 8 apple halves- and keep the rest warm and covered!**

Place the apples, cut side up, on top of the vanilla. Stir the dried fruit and put a heaping tablespoon in each apple hollow. Continue until the fruits have been distributed evenly.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve the apples hot at the table, and pour the rest of the hot sauce over the apples right before you serve, tucking them in under a nice, warm blanket.....

Eet smakelijk!

* Use what you have: mix up dark raisins, golden raisins, currants, cranberries, chopped up walnuts, almonds or pecan.

** It's a little bit more work, but I prefer making the second batch of vanilla pudding when the apples are baking - right before they come out of the oven. That way, I have piping hot custard to pour over the apples! 

1 comment:

  1. This is yet another Dutch recipe to try. Hope my Dutch husband who is a picky eater loves this.

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