Long and slow apples
Total time: 30 minutes, plus 2 hours baking time and optional chilling time
Note: Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Around My French Table."
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1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
4 apples, such as Gala or Fuji, peeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Zest of 1 small orange, removed with a vegetable peeler, then very finely chopped (optional)
1. Center a rack in the oven and heat to 300 degrees. Generously butter 4 (6-ounce) ramekins or heatproof cups (Pyrex custard cups work well). Line a jellyroll pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2. Put the sugar, ginger and coriander in a small bowl and whisk to blend.
3. The apples need to be sliced as thin as possible. First cut them in half from top to bottom and remove the cores with a melon baller, or excavate them with the tip of a small knife. If you have a mandoline, or Benriner slicer, use it to slice the apples crosswise 1/8- to 1/6-inch thick. If not, do this with a knife — just set the apple halves cut-side down on a board and slice crosswise.
4. Arrange a thin layer of apple slices in each ramekin, brush with a little melted butter, sprinkle with a little spiced sugar and scatter over a small pinch of orange zest, if you're using it. Continue to make layers of apples, butter, spiced sugar and orange zest until you've used all the apples.
5. Wrap each ramekin in parchment paper and then aluminum foil and use a small knife to pierce both the parchment and foil in about 4 places. Put the ramekins in the jellyroll pan and weight each ramekin down, using more ramekins or heatproof coffee cups — you don't need anything too heavy, but you do want to press the apples a bit while they're baking.
6. Bake the apples for 2 hours, undisturbed. Transfer the jellyroll pan to a cooling rack and let the ramekins rest with the weights in place until they cool down a little, or until they reach room temperature.
7. Remove the weights and the wrapping. If the juices have run over the sides of the ramekins, wipe them clean.
8. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. If you want to serve the apples chilled, cover each one with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or better yet, overnight. If you want to unmold the apples, run a small knife around the edges of each ramekin, cover with a small plate, turn over and lift off the ramekin.
9. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream (add a pinch of ground ginger) or vanilla ice cream.
Each serving: 203 calories; 1 gram protein; 33 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 9 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 23 mg cholesterol; 29 grams sugar; 1 mg sodium.