“Ducking for apples – change one letter and it’s the story of my life.” ~ Dorothy Parker – American writer, poet, satirist and original member of the Algonquin Round Table, 1893-1967.
October is National Apple Month. The U.S. has approximately 7,500 apple producers that grow almost 100 varieties. While North Carolina is not in the top-5 list we are No. 7 and so fortunate to be home to a number of wonderful orchards, especially in our beautiful mountains and foothills. And now is the best time time to buy apples, whether from a roadside stand, the farmers market or your local grocer.
My favorite apple is the wonderfully firm, sweet yet tart Honeycrisp. This apple rocks and, if you have never tried one, I suggest you do so soon because they are seasonal in the Raleigh area. These apples may be a little bit more expensive than other varieties, but are so, so, so worth it!
Here are two of my favorite recipes that star Honeycrisps: a wonderful
Waldorf salad and a yummy apple cake with cream cheese frosting. BTW, I hope you will check out my upcoming “Drink of the Month” post that will include a cocktail I call “Kiss My Appletini” in honor of National Apple Month!
This salad was created in, where else? – the Big Apple – between 1893 and 1896, at the Waldorf (then not Astoria) Hotel, and has been popular ever since. Credited to Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel of the Waldorf , the original recipe consisted of diced red-skinned apples, celery, and mayonnaise. Chopped walnuts were added later to this now American classic, as were optional grapes, raisins, etc.
I used raisins in this recipe, but have had great luck with sliced green grapes as well. Go with whatever you prefer – you can even add chicken for a more substantial salad.
- 3 apples (I used two Honeycrisps for the sweetness, and one Granny Smith for the tartness.)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 small boxes (1.5 oz. each) of raisins
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (I use Duke’s light)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus ¼ fresh lemon
- 2 packs of sweetener (I used Splenda® this time – use whatever you prefer)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Peel, core and cut the apples into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a large bowl and sprinkle with the juice of a quarter of a fresh lemon to help prevent the apples from turning brown.
Add the celery, walnuts and raisins. Blend well.
Whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, sweetener and salt in a medium bowl and gently stir into the apple mixture.
Chill for at least an hour before serving.
I like to serve this as a side salad or else as a main meal with some cheese toast and a glass of white wine.
Honeycrisp Apple Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet at: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/German-Apple-Cake-I/Detail.aspx.
It had 570 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars, so I thought I would give it a try. And I am so glad I did – this cake is heavenly. I added more cinnamon and vanilla and sprinkled the apples with some fresh lemon juice to keep them fresh, but otherwise followed the recipe. I made my own cream cheese frosting to top it off, but to be honest, the cake is awesome plain!
Ingredients for Honeycrisp Apple Cake
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup of oil (I used Canola)
- 2 cups white sugar (next time I will decrease the white sugar by a cup and add a cup of light brown sugar)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 cups Honeycrisp apples (3-4 apples)
- Lemon juice (fresh) to sprinkle over apples
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, beat eggs and oil with a mixer until creamy, about a minute and a half or so. Add the sugar and vanilla, blend together well.
In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add this to the egg mixture, a little bit at a time. The batter will become extremely thick, and you should use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Peel, core and finely dice the apples, and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Fold the apples into the batter using a sturdy wooden spoon. Once you have combined all of the ingredients, pour the batter into the pan.
Bake for 45 minutes or so, until the top is nice and brown and you can insert and remove a toothpick in the middle of the cake with it coming out clean.
After the cake has cooled, spread cream cheese frosting on the top (easy recipe follows). This keeps well for several days in the refrigerator, if you have any left!
Cream Cheese Frosting
This is an easy-to-make and wonderfully light (as in fluffy) frosting. Control the sweetnees by adding more or less powdered sugar.
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar and blend well. This is a great time to enlist your kids to help – with the promise of them getting to lick the icing off of the beaters and the bowl.
This makes a great frosting for carrot cake as well!
Eat, drink and be merry!