Amaretti di Saronno is the most famous variety of these crunchy, almond-flavoured macaroons, and are traditional to the town of that name in the northern Italian commune of Lombardy and date back to the eighteenth century. In this recipe their crunchy crumbs make a fantastic contrast to soft, creamy mascarpone and lightly spiced poached apples. Delizioso!
– 4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored but left whole
– 1¼ bottles Chianti
– 50g demerara or brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
– 2 cinnamon sticks
For the biscuit cream:
– 2 egg yolks
– 2 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
– 250g mascarpone cheese
– 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
– 40g Amaretti biscuits (the crunchy ones), roughly crumbled
Place the apples in a medium saucepan – they should fit quite snugly – then pour in the wine (don’t worry if the apples start to float). Add the sugar, peppercorns and cinnamon sticks and bring the wine to the boil. Gently boil for 4 minutes or until the apples are just tender. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the apples to cool in the wine – they will continue to cook, so turn them occasionally so that they take on an even colour, or place a small plate on top of them to keep them totally immersed in the wine.
Remove 2 ladles (about 150ml), of the spiced wine and transfer to a small saucepan. Simmer the liquid until reduced by half and syrupy, then leave to cool. The syrup will thicken as it cools.
When the apples are cold, make the Amaretti biscuit cream. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Gently fold in the mascarpone and the seeds from the vanilla pod using a large metal spoon. Then fold in three-quarters of the Amaretti biscuits, reserving the rest for later.
Remove the cooled apples from the red wine and slice each one horizontally into 7 rings. Divide the apple rings among four plates, laying the rings of each apple in a circle, overlapping.
Put a couple of spoonfuls of the Amaretti cream in the middle of the apple rings, drizzle some red wine syrup around the apples, then scatter over the reserved Amaretti biscuits. Serve with a cup of your favourite tea.
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