http://www.aaronmclean.com Julie Biuso At Home
This is one of those OHMYGOD! cakes. It's simply sensational though easy enough in execution – and it's great for nervous cooks because it can be assembled way in advance so all you need do is trot it out to a round of applause!
8-10 crêpes, approximately 20cm in diameter Praline 50g (2 ounces) whole unblanched almonds (skins on; make sure they are unsalted) 50g (2 ounces) fresh walnuts 8 Brazil nuts, halved 100g (3½ ounces) caster sugar (superfine granulated sugar) Filling (marmelade) 1kg (2 pound 2 ounces) tart apples 3 Tbsp granulated sugar 1 Tbsp calvados (or cognac or Grand Marnier), optional Honey cream 1 Tbsp manuka (or aromatic) honey 350ml (12 fluid ounces) cream
1 Make the praline first. Lightly oil a metal baking sheet. Put nuts and sugar together in a small heavy-based saucepan. Set pan over gentle heat and let sugar melt without stirring. Once all sugar has melted, increase heat to medium and let it cook until it turns into a light nut-brown caramel. Continue cooking, tilting pan from time to time to coat all the nuts, until caramel is a rich golden colour. Immediately pour it onto an oiled baking sheet, using a metal spoon to scrape out all the caramel. Leave praline until set, then release it from the baking sheet (it snaps off easily). Smash lumps of praline with a mallet between thick layers of baking (parchment) paper. Transfer to an airtight container (it can be stored for several days).
2 To make the apple filling, cut apples in half and slice thickly. Put apples in a buttered saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water, cover with a lid and cook gently until soft and easily squished to a purée. Push purée through a large wide-meshed sieve to catch pips and skins and return purée to cleaned pan with sugar. Cook uncovered over gentle heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon, or until thick enough so that mixture clings to the upheld spoon rather than falls off it. Cool, then stir in calvados or cognac, if using.
3 To assemble crêpe cake, loosen honey by putting it in a ramekin and immersing the ramekin in hot water. Whip cream and honey until thick. Spread crêpes first with apple filling, then with cream, stacking them as you go. Finish with a generous layer of cream. Scatter with praline. Serve immediately, cut into wedges, or refrigerate and serve within 24 hours (the praline will soften a little, but it will still be delicious).
A marmelade (spelled with an e, not an a as in the breakfast spread) is a well-reduced purée of sweetened fruit. The fruit, in this case, apples, is cooked down to a fluff, sieved to catch pips and skin, then returned to the pan and slowly cooked down to a very thick spreadable purée. Yum! The praline can be made ahead of time, but grind or chop it as soon as it is set, then transfer to an airtight container because moisture and humidity soon make it sticky. The crêpes can also be made a day ahead and kept refrigerated until required.
There will be more praline than required – serve it on ice cream or with poached fruit.
Recipe from Julie Biuso At Home, published by New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com