September 22, 2014

Honey Caramelized Apples for a Sweet New Year

It is traditional to dip apples in honey for a sweet new year on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Needless to say, it is a delicious tradition and a true example of why there is no need for things to be complicated to taste wonderful. Fresh, crisp, seasonal apples dipped in yummy raw honey is hard to beat, but this year I wanted to try to make it into a  memorable dessert instead of a mere part of the celebration. I have always found Tarte Tatin to be one of my absolute favorite desserts. The upside-down caramelized apple tart was and remains to be one of the best recipe rescues in culinary history.

I decided to apply the basic principles of the this sublime dessert in my attempt to elevate the apple and honey tradition. Caramelizing apples in lavender infused butter and honey instead of sugar did the trick. It sounds way more complicated than it is and your guests will think you are a genius for making it. The apples taste absolutely heavenly on their own, but topped with a spoonful of freshly whipped cream or over a scoop of vanilla ice cream it is a showstopper for any meal or celebration.

Please see my notes about the amounts of butter and honey to use in the ingredient list below. A traditional Tarte Tatin recipe calls for obscene amounts of butter and sugar. I found that a little goes a long way so I cut it way down with this recipe. The goal was to have enough butter and honey to properly flavor and caramelize the fruit without it being overly sweet or too rich. Have a happy, healthy, and sweet 5775.

Honey Caramelized Apples

Serves 6-10 depending on how you choose to serve.

For all ingredients, please consider using those that have been grown organically.


apples, peeled and quartered with cores and stems removed

Crisp tart apples such as granny smith, honeycrisp, or crispin are optimal

3-6 tablespoons

unsalted butter

I prefer to use less butter, but if you are using a more apples and they are on the large size add the extra tablespoons.

1/2-3/4 cup


Like with the butter, I prefer to use less honey as the apples offer plenty of sweetness, but if you are using more apples and they are on the large size add the extra honey.

3 sprigs fresh lavender, optional
  vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream

Prepare the apples.

Heat the butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. If you are using the lavender, add the sprigs to the butter.

Once the butter is melted and begins to bubble, add the honey. Stir it into the butter and allow to caramelize. This will take roughly 5-10 minutes. You will see the color of the mixture change from golden to a rich brown. Do not let it burn. If it does burn, just start over.

Once the honey and butter are a rich dark caramel color, reduce the heat to a medium flame, remove the lavender, and add the apples to the mixture. The apples will stop the honey from burning.

Cook the apples without turning for about 15 minutes or until they are browned and caramelized on the bottom side of the piece. Using tongs, gently turn them over one by one and cook for another 15-20 minutes. As they cook, their juices will combine with the honey to create a sumptuous sauce.

When the apples are finished they should have reduced in size, be tender all the way through each piece when pierced with a knife, and be completely caramelized and glazed by the honey.

Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the apples along with their honey infused juices to a bowl, platter, or large dish. Cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap.

Do not refrigerate.

Serve the apples over a scoop of vanilla ice cream along with a generous drizzle of the caramelized juices, or on their own topped with a spoon of freshly whipped cream.

Categories: Desserts, Fall & Winter, Fruits, Gluten Free

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