For the apples:
6 small apples (Jonathan, McIntosh), peeled
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
½ cup agave
4 cups water
Zest of one lemon
For the Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
For the Tempura batter:
1 cup cake flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup water (scant)
4 cups vegetable oil for frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
Vanilla Ice Cream or whipped cream or yogurt (optional)
Poach the apples: bring the water, agave syrup, cinnamon, lemon zest and clove to a boil for fifteen minutes. Peel the apples and add them to the water. Cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on their size, and allow to cool to room temperature in their cooking liquid. Core the apples, then cut them in half crosswise, so that they resemble donuts. Dry the apples off and keep at room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce: cook the sugar in a small saucepot over low heat until it begins to darken. Do not stir. When the sugar has reached a golden brown color, immediately stir in the heavy cream. Stir to completely dissolve the caramel into the cream, and remove to a metal container. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Make the tempura batter: mix all the dry ingredients together, and add the water slowly, stirring the slurry with your fingers until you reach a consistency that will coat the back of a spoon fairly thickly.
To finish: heat the vegetable oil, testing the temperature with a few drops of batter. Dredge the apples in the batter, and fry in the oil until golden brown, two apple halves per person. Do this in a couple of batches if necessary. Place the apple donuts in a bowl, one propped on top of the other, and dust with powdered sugar. Add a dollop of ice cream, yogurt or whipped cream in the middle of one of the donuts, pour the caramel sauce around, and serve.
-Flavors And More Magazine: August 2009