Sweet Endings

Dessert, that anticipatory sweet ending to a meal. Possibly the last thing you eat before saying good night to the moon. What a pleasant way to end the day and send you happily into dreamland.

Dessert comes in many different forms: an elaborate layered cake, a seasonal fruit pie with a burnished golden crust, decadent and rich chocolate brownies or pudding. A piece of sweet buttery caramel or a silky mint chocolate candy, dish of creamy ice cream or a bar and cookie, just like grandma used to make. Perhaps you went to the bakery and returned home with fancy French pastries and artfully decorated cupcakes. Maybe dessert is as simple as a perfectly ripe fresh pear served with an aged cheese or a little glass of port. For fun, try a toasted marshmallow on a stick or a cup of hot chocolate with a candy cane as a stir stick.

Apples are at their peak of freshness and flavor right now, and I recently made this recipe for delicious apple tarte Tatin. The tarte Tatin, named after the hotel serving it as its signature dish, is an upside-down pastry in which the fruit are caramelized in butter and sugar before the tart is baked. It originated in France. If you’re an apple purist, this might be perfect for you. I like that it is not too sweet, but if you have a sweet tooth, you may want to add more sugar.

Use apples that are very similar in size, and slice them all consistently. The type of apples you use are important. You want a firm, not too sweet apple, such as a Jazz, Gala or Golden Delicious.

Apple Tarte Tatin

Yield: 6 servings

Pastry Ingredients

1 ½ cups all- purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup cold butter

1/3 cup shortening

7 tablespoons ice-cold water (may take more to make a moist dough that holds together in a ball)

Directions

Sift flour, salt and sugar together in large mixing bowl.

Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until the pieces are the size of small peas.

Cut in shortening.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons ice water over part of mixture. Gently toss with fork. Push mixture to side of bowl. Repeat until all is moistened. Form into a ball.

Flatten on lightly floured surface by pressing with the edge of your hand three times across in both directions until you have a round disc about an inch thick. Place the pastry on a plate, wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour minimum to 24 hours. This lets the gluten relax, and when you roll out the pastry it stays flat.

Just prior to making caramel apple filling remove dough from refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Caramel Apple Filling:

1/2 stick butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons spiced rum (optional)

¼ teaspoon salt

6-7 apples (recommended: Golden Delicious, Jazz, Gala)

Directions

Peel the apples, cut in 2 and remove the core. Cut them into 4 big pieces.

Cut the butter into little bits and scatter on a 10-inch baking dish. Shake the sugar and salt over it and add 2 tablespoons of water to keep it from crystallizing. Caramelize the sugar by placing the dish on a medium heat. When it first turns brown, stop the cooking and take the pan off the heat.

Place apple quarters, rounded sides down, on top of the butter and sugar in a circular pattern.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar and rum over the apples. Put the pan back on the burner at a medium heat until the caramel starts bubbling up through the apples, about 10 minutes.

Roll the pastry out and place over the apples folding it in at the edges. Make 3 or 4 holes with a knife and 1 in the middle to let steam out when baking. Bake for 20 minutes and then let it rest for 15-45 minutes. It is important that you do this otherwise the apples will fall apart when you turn it over. Take a dinner plate and put it over the skillet. Carefully while wearing oven mitts, turn skillet over onto plate. Let plate and skillet sit undisturbed 5 minutes. Slowly lift skillet. If any apples stick to skillet, carefully remove and place back into place.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees F.

Crust Ingredients:

• 3/4 cups crushed gingersnap cookies

• 3/4 cups crushed graham crackers

• 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

• 1/3 cup butter, melted

• 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

• 3/4 cup white sugar, divided

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 3 eggs

• 1 cup canned pumpkin

• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies, crushed graham crackers, pecans, and butter. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9- inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture.

Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.

Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.

Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours prior to serving.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for you, my readers, who let me into your lives and let me know how much you enjoy my column when I see you around town. I am honored to share my love of Alaskan life and good food with you. Blessings.

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