On the first day of fall I noticed that the hydrangeas had a vintage look. Instead of vibrant blue, they aged into a subtle blend of pink, violet, gray and cream. Hydrangeas are the only flowers I know of that exhibit such grace at the end of life. Against the backdrop of ochre, green and crimson leaves they called out for preservation. I cut the branches and gathered them up for drying, hoping to sustain their color and my warm weather memories.
Walking back from the garden, hydrangea bunches in hand, my feet crunched over the dried, fallen leaves. “The sun is setting earlier now” I thought and my mind turned to the basket of freshly picked apples and pears on the counter inside. It was time to bake.
8-10 ripe pears, washed, dried, chilled
372 grams sugar (about 2 cups)
186 grams dark brown sugar (about 1 cup)
150 grams butter (about 2/3 cup)
2/3 cup corn syrup
1 cup cream
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. real vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together (except the fruit) in a deep saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until the butter melts and temperature on a candy or laser thermometer reaches 246 degrees (119 celcius). Stir constantly toward the end of the cooking period to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Dip fruit into caramel mixture and twist until evenly covered. Roll in nuts or sugar. Drain on waxed paper or a silicone baking sheet. Refrigerate. Consume pears within a few hours. Leftover caramel can be refrigerated and defrosted in the microwave for dipping fruit slices or served with the tart.
Apple Tart Crust:
140 g. sugar
400 g. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
455 g. flour
1. Mix sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla with dough hook just until combined.
2. Add flour and mix until smooth. Do not over mix.
3. Flatten into disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 30 minutes. (You’ll only use half the dough. The rest can be tightly sealed and frozen)
4. Roll or press tart dough into shells (about 1/4 inch thick)
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (205 celcius)
6 medium apples, sliced
130 grams sugar
25 grams flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Mix dry ingredients. Add sliced apples and toss with sugar mixture. Arrange apples over tart crust. Bake 45-55 minutes until crust is cooked through.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~ Albert Camus
Welcome Autumn. I’m ready for you now.