Everyday Food (November 2012)
Here are the main ingredients for this Apple-Date Betty: bread, butter, sugar, apples, dates and spices.
That list should produce a spectacular dessert, one that's homey and flavorful, the equivalent of a big autumn bear hug.
So how can you have this many great ingredients and not produce a stellar Thanksgiving dessert?
We're not exactly certain, but we have some ideas for how to fix it.
Though it's packed with wonderful ingredients, this Apple-Date Betty ended up decidedly low on flavor. The dates all but disappear. The dish lacks a unifying or predominant taste -- there's no central sweet note, no big apple or date flavor that "wows." It's not a bad dessert, it's just not flavorful.
Up against other Thanksgiving dishes at our Fakesgiving meal, some of which are truly remarkable (we're lookin' at you, Sorghum-Sweetened Chocolate Pecan Pie), this Apple-Date Betty looked like a severe underperformer. (In fairness, if the Betty had been the only dessert available, we likely wouldn't have felt the same way.)
Here are some ideas for how to increase the flavor if you want to give this Apple-Date Betty a try at home:
- Spice the bread crumbs more heavily: Consider adding a heavy dose of cinnamon to the bread crumbs for a more robust spice flavor.
- Try another sweetener: We'd like to try an alternate take on sweetening this dish, perhaps with honey or molasses. Doing this would significantly alter the flavor of the dish, so we might need to forgo the apples or dates, but still we'd like to try it.
- Top with ice cream instead of heavy cream: This is a huge cheat, but one that we would undertake in a heartbeat if we had serving this dish to do over again.
In concept, an Apple-Date Betty is a great idea for the Thanksgiving table. It's an easy dessert that can be baked in a large dish, then quickly divided between plates or spooned out by guests. We are definitely pro-Betty (well, except for Betty Draper). This dish just needs more flavor.
Do you have other ideas for how to amp up the flavor in this Apple-Date Betty?
- The top Thanksgiving trends for 2012
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
NOTES FROM ZACH AND CLAY:
In the post above we have listed a number of ways that we might improve upon this dish. If you have other suggestions or tweaks, please let them in the comments of this post!
INGREDIENTS5 slices country white sandwich bread, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar, divided
6 tablespoons apple cider, divided
5 Granny Smith apples (2 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup chopped dates, preferably Medjool (4 ounces)
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Heavy cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scatter bread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and light golden brown, about 12 minutes, tossing halfway through. Crush half the bread to make crumbs. In a large bowl, combine butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons cider, then stir in bread pieces and crumbs.
Combine apples, dates, flour, lemon juice, salt, allspice, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons cider. Stir in 1/2 cup bread mixture. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish and top with remaining bread mixture. Cover with foil and bake until bubbling in center, 40 to 55 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden, 5 minutes more. Let cool 15 minutes (or let sit at room temperature, up to 8 hours). To serve, divide among bowls and top with cream.
Let cool 15 minutes or let sit at room temperature up to 8 hours.