Poached in cranberry syrup, these miniature apples are perfect for a light, low fat (and gluten-free) dessert or even brunch!
Poached apples weren’t my thing. It’s not that we had any unbridgeable differences; I just wasn’t willing to get into the trouble of peeling and cooking some fruit when I could eat them fresh! But that was until I poached a few pears in a vanilla and saffron syrup for a cake recipe I was working on…
I wanted to make this chocolate and vanilla marble semolina cake (which by the way is a Greek traditional no-bake vegan dessert) and needed something to serve it with. Usually, in Greece, this cake is served with fruits that are preserved in a very thick sugar syrup (they’re called spoon sweets in Greek), but I wanted something quicker and lighter, so I decided to poach some pears I had on my counter. And that was one of the best decisions ever!
Cooking some apples or pears in a scented syrup is one of the best things you can do if you want to transform a humble fruit into an elegant dessert!
The advantages of poaching apples are many:
Fruits that are firm and have not ripened yet, get soft, juicy and full of aroma!
The use of herbs, spices, juices and sugar, results in a complex and more interesting taste.
By their own, they make for a healthy and light dessert, since they’re basically fat and cholesterol free (today’s recipe contains small amounts of fat from Greek yogurt and granola)
For this recipe, I used a Greek variety of miniature apples called firiki. Firiki apples are small to medium in size and have an elongated, cylindrical shape. The skin is yellow-green with red tones and the flesh is juicy with high sugar content and low acidity levels. The variety is known to grow in the foothills of Pelion Mountain since the 18th century. Of course, you can use whatever variety of small apples you like, or even regular sized apples, maybe quartered.
- Keep in mind to pick fruits that are firm to the touch and not fully ripe, because poaching them will soften them.
- Don’t poach the fruit for too long because they’ll get mushy. You want them softened but still firm to the bite (I hope you get me 🙂 )
- Flavor the syrup according to your preferences and create your own recipe! (Instead of cranberry juice, consider a simple syrup with vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon, honey, tea, whiskey, coffee…)
- I used my crunchy granola bars recipe to make the granola. I just didn’t pack the mixture before baking, and when cooled I broke any large parts with my fingers. If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can use any store-bought granola you like (though mine is pretty awesome and easy!)
- Use a thick, creamy, strained Greek yogurt. I prefer to buy a low-fat Greek yogurt with 2% fat since most no-fat yogurts have gelatin as a thickening agent. I always check the ingredients in order to make sure my yogurt contains only skimmed milk, cream, and live active yogurt cultures; nothing else!
- For prettier presentation leave the stems of the apples on.
- These apples are also great served with vanilla ice cream and crushed cookies (Duh!)
- For the poached apples:
- 6 mini apples, peeled
- ½ cup cranberry juice
- ¾ cups sugar
- ½ cup water (or more to cover the fruit)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- For the yogurt cream:
- 2 cups strained Greek yogurt (full fat or 2%)
- 3-4 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- ¾ cups granola (2 tablespoons per serving), or more
- Place apples in a pot, just big enough to fit them.
- Add cranberry juice, sugar, water, and cinnamon. You may need to add some more water, enough to cover them completely.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- Let them cool inside the syrup, as this will intensify their color.
- When cooled, you can refrigerate them inside the syrup, for 3-4 days.
- Mix yogurt, honey, and vanilla and stir well to combine.
- Divide yogurt cream into 6 bowls or plates, place one poached apple onto each plate and sprinkle with granola.
- Serve with a jar of syrup on the side, in case anyone wants some more sweetness.
For the granola, I use my crunchy granola bars recipe.
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