New Castle News

October 6, 2012

Culinary Conversation: Autumn means time for apple treats

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — There was a time when I didn’t think a meal was complete if it didn’t include desserts.

These days, I’m a little more discerning. But I still like having something sweet after dinner. Those 100-calorie ice cream bars satisfy my cravings and the best part is they have minimal fat.

Occasionally, I’ll indulge in slice of cheesecake, a serving of tiramisu and my all-time favorite — two-layer chocolate cake with a double batch of chocolate butter cream frosting. However, I reserve those for special days.

Right now, it’s apple time. What a versatile fruit. Apple pie is still one of the most popular desserts of all time. But there are so many options when you have a surplus of apples.

As if she knew about my cravings for apple desserts, a reader who has supplied recipes for this column in the past once again came through with more, including caramel apple cheesecake bars and apple dumplings.

Her instructions were amusing.

“Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top. Then go to confession. Quickly.”

There were also recipes for something called funeral pie described as a classic Amish dish that is rich and moist, and earthquake cake mix cake. Of the latter, the reader referred to it as “a slice of heaven made in minutes.”

Sharing is part of Culinary Conversation. We would love to hear from you — whether it’s desserts, a main dish, appetizer or your favorite Christmas cookie.

Be sure to enjoy the bounty of the apple season. And make time to enjoy the sweetness of life.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Crust:                                                           

Apples:

Streusel Topping:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13-inch baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tbsps. sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.

For the streusel topping, in a small bowl, combine all ingredients. (It’s effective to use clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.) Sprinkle streusel topping over apples. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until filling is set.

Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold.

Apple Dumplings

Peel and core apples. Cut apples into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x13-inch buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

They should be crispy on top to counteract the juicy bottom.

Old-Fashioned Funeral Pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the raisins, water and juice in a saucepan and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Combine the sugars, cornstarch, spices and salt in a bowl, mixing all the time. Add this mixture to the heating raisins.

Cook and stir this until the mixture starts to bubble. Add the vinegar, walnuts and butter, and heat until the butter is melted. Cool until just warm.

Pour into the prepared shell and top with the second pastry crust. Bake 25 minutes or until golden. Cool.

Earthquake Cake Mix Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place coconut and pecans in 11x14-inch greased pan. Mix cake mix according to package directions and spread on top of the coconut and pecans. (Use shredded coconut and chopped pecans, but not too finely chopped.)

Mix butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar together; spoon on top of the cake mix.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, and cool before serving.