Recipe – Easy Apple Halwa


Lockdown has forced me home and most travel plans stand cancelled but there is poetry, art and cooking to keep me grounded. Winter brings a variety of fruits and veggies to fall in love with. When someone bought orchard fresh apples from Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh I was excited to make a few things apart from munching on their sweet crispy goodness.

On days when everything gets a bit too overwhelming I begin to crave for something sweet yet healthy. Home cooked in a jiffy is my choice of instant desserts. This three ingredient apple halwa is so good I can’t tell you. Simple and easy to assemble. It doesn’t have khoya or milk in it so if you are lactos intolerant this is perfect for you. I love stewed apples so this is a star dish for small hungers. It also reminds me of those delish apple pie fillings I used to make at one time.

It I used both golden and red delicious apples in it. You may use whichever juicy apple you have. The sweeter the fruit lesser the added sugar. I prefer the flavour of the fruit to be the focus of the dish.

It is perfect as a Fasting dish too. Good way to get the kids eating fruits. I use minimal ghee and let me remind you it is a good fat so do not be afraid to use it.

Here is the recipe :

Ingredients :

Apples – 3 large

Sugar – 3 tbsp ( adjust according to the sweetness of fruit. I sometimes use jaggery or brown sugar too)

Ghee \ Clarified Butter – 2 tbsp

Cinnamon \ Nutneg – A pinch

( You can use a pinch or two of Green cardamom powder or apple pie spice mix too)

Slivers of almonds / Cashew as desired

Method :

Wash and pat dry the apples. Peel, core and grate them fine. I prefer this texture but you can give a spin in grinder too to make it bit smoother.

In a heavy bottom or non stick pan add warm ghee and slightly fry the cashews if using. Remove in a plate and keep aside.

Now add the grated or pureed apples to the warm ghee. Keep heat on medium.

Cook till all the juice from the apples evaporates. The mixture might splutter so be careful.

Add sugar and mix well. Continue to cook and stir occasionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Keep heat low medium.

The addition of sugar will make it liquidy again so keep cooking till water evaporates.

Stir in whichever spice mix you are using.

Here you need to be vigilant. Keep a watch on the texture. It shouldn’t be under cooked like a pudding or over cooked into thick mass. The moment is all comes together turn off the heat.

Add the chopped dry fruits and serve.

If you wish to turn it into squares of barfi you need to just cook a little more and then pour the mixture in a greased plate to set. Cut in desired shape to serve.

You can make the pumpkin halwa the same say. Just steam the grated pumpkin and follow the same steps. Use the deep orange ripe pumpkin for it.

You can mix the two ingredients too. It tastes yup.

This is a simple no fail fall recipe you can try this season. Give it try.

Puff Pastry Experiments-Baked Apple Roses, Strawberry Filled Mini Puffs And More


 

Food hall at the DLF place, Saket is addictive. This Saturday after a hearty meal I and my son decided to do our usual round of the Food hall and soon we were filling our basket with more than what we needed. The food monster wanted to create something from ready made frozen puff pastry sheets and I too was game for it. The dish on my mind was the gorgeous Apple Roses I had been viewing all over the internet.

Now, I used to make apple pie crust at home but the store bought frozen puff pastry sheets were something new to me too.  The images of delicious pinwheels, tarts, quiche, pie, croissants, churros, torte, cheese sticks etc began to float in front of my eyes. I had to rein my imagination as I was going to get only a sheet or two. The food monster had made this clear. Finally I decided on the amazing Apple Roses, Fresh strawberry and fruit spread filled mini puff pastries and some churros.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon the food monster took over the kitchen and created some sumptuous dishes like Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart, Chili Salsa and Cheese Tart , Marshmallow, chocolate and coffee pockets topped with dark caramel and chocolate ganache  .  You can follow the Food Monster Delhi on twitter too.

The yummy treats were devoured instantly.  On reminding about my share of the pastry sheets and he very graciously left some. I realized that the churros would have to go as the sheets were just enough of the Apple Roses and Strawberry mini puffs.

Though there are many versions of Apple roses on internet and all amazingly gorgeous but I liked the ones made by Sherri of To Simply Inspire  I followed her directions though I tweaked them a bit. You can check out her perfect roses by clicking on the link of her blog. Thanks Sherri for inspiring.

Here is how I made those Apple Rose Puffed Pastries 

Ingredients : (For 6 apple roses )

2 Delicious Red Apples (I used organic)

1 frozen Puff Pasty Sheet (Thawed)

2 Tablespoon of fruit preserve (I used mixed fruit but you can use plum, peach, apricot…whatever you desire)

Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling ( 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder + 1 teaspoon fine sugar)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Flour to sprinkle on the counter

Powdered sugar for sprinkling as decoration

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius ( Sherri did it at 190 degrees Celsius / 375 degree F)

Remove the frozen puff pastry sheets and let them thaw on the counter. They should still be cool when you use them. I removed them from freezer and kept them in the fridge overnight to use them in the morning. (See instructions on the packet)

Prepare cinnamon sugar by mixing the two ingredients together. Keep aside. (You can use apple pie spice mix too)

Half fill a bowl with water and add lemon juice to it. Now cut the apples in half from top to bottom. Remove the core ends and scoop out the center core.

Cut them in paper thin slices with a sharp knife. (unfortunately mine weren’t that thin.. a reason to buy a good sharp knife)

Place the slices in the water bowl. This will prevent them from turning brown. (enough water to cover the slices)

I used organic apples as we are using the skin too.

Place the bowl in the microwave for a minute to soften the apple a little so they don’t break while folding. They should not become mushy.

Now drain the apples in a colander and gently pour some cool water over them. drain properly.

Now, sprinkle some flour over a clean counter and roll out the pastry sheet, stretch it a bit with a rolling pin. Move in one direction only.

Try to keep the rectangle shape and cut it into six equal strips of 2 in x 9 inches approx. The sheet should be 1/8 in thick. In my excitement I didn’t make it rectangle but then corrected the strips by cutting the rounded edges. One learns 🙂

In a bowl take the fruit preserve and add a teaspoon of water to it. Microwave for a min so that the preserve is of spreading consistency. Let it cool.

Spread a little preserve on each strip.

Line 6-9 apple slices overlapping each other a little with the peel side facing out along one side of the strip. Leave a little space on both ends when you line up the slices.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar or apple pie spice mix if you desire. I love it.

Fold the bottom part of the strip so that it covers the apples.

Now, starting on one end carefully start to roll the fruit lined strip into a rose shape. Don’t make it very tight roll. Once you reach the end, seal the edges by pressing with your finger and gently place in a well greased muffin tin or a silicon muffin tray. You can apply a egg wash. I used melted butter and brushed it on the pastry with a pastry brush.

Make six roses from the strips and place them all in the tray.

Bake in the middle rack for 30-45 minutes. The pastry should be nicely cooked.

I did not keep the water pan in the tray below as suggested in the original recipe but you can try that.

Take them out and let them set for a few minutes before removing from the tray.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. You can serve them warm or at room temperature as required.

You can double the amount to make 12 roses.

You can also use, butter, brown sugar and apple pie spice mixed together instead of fruit preserve.

You can bake these on a flat ray too but make sure the ends of the rose pastry are sealed well so that they do not open while baking.

Next time I will use different coloured apples, red , green, yellow and will also try peach and nectarine. You can try too. They will look amazing I think.

For the fresh Strawberry and Fruit Spread Filled Mini Puffs :

I had some leftovers from the Pastry sheet used by the food monster so I used that to make a few of these fruity delights. I rolled the dough into a flat sheet and cut out a few circles slightly larger then the muffin hole. you can make them into squares too or like an overlapping pocket well. I didn’t decorate the edges but you must mold the top edges into fluted design. It looks very pretty.

Then I prepared a sauce made with fresh strawberries, sugar and whole strawberry fruit preserve. Preserves are very versatile and the sauce came out delicious.

Just cut the fresh ripe strawberries and drizzle some sugar on them and let them macerate for approx 20 min. Now microwave some fruit preserve till it bubbles. Take it out and add the fresh strawberries.

Place the pastry circles in the muffin cups without flattening the puffy texture and poke some holes at the bottom of the shell with a fork so that it doesn’t rise while baking. Pour the fruit mixture in it. Bake for 30 minutes on middle rack  at 180 degrees. The shell should become golden in colour.

You can pour this fruit mixture to make puff pastry pockets,  tiny tartlets. pinwheels, pies or even a little galatte . I will do that soon, so watch this pace.

You can even bake the tart shells separately and simply spoon this lovely berrilicious mix and top it with some whipped cream before serving.

Overall, we had a great day experimenting with the frozen puff pastry sheets. Next time there will be some more great things and better pictures. 🙂 Till then, keep experimenting and exploring.