Almost every country has its own version of crepes, but it was France’s Brittany region where the tools and techniques were first created and perfected.
The French tend to be a proud people and they hold dear the things that make them unique. In France, creperies are common everywhere and although the French are legendary for their disdain for le fast food, they have their own version of cuisine a la minute.
Crepes are the French answer to fast food. Nearly every street corner in the heart of Paris, has a stand de crepes. These crepes, eaten in the street, on the go, leaving you with a mouthful of sugar and sticky hands, are absolutely memorable. In less time than it takes to fry a burger, a competent crepier can cook a thin, eggy crepe, flip it, fill it, fold it and present it ready to eat.
In French, the word aumoniere is derived from the word aumone, which means, ‘giving money to someone in need’. An aumoniere represents a small purse (the pastry) with coins inside (the filling).
In July (2020), I posted a blog that featured Seafood Aumoniere. Today, I thought it would be nice to use that same technique in a dessert presentation. I find the contrast of the sweet & salty essence of caramel is delicious when combined with the tangy taste of apple.
As many trends in North America do, the salted caramel flavor started in high-end restaurants and gourmet shops. Then it appeared in top chain restaurants and premium supermarkets before finally ending up at superstores like Walmart.
The combination of sweet & salty foods makes for an appealing treat that creates a flavor which is both unique and appetizing. The trick to getting salted caramel right lies in the ratios. Too much salt and the balance is completely off, too much sweetness and it becomes sickeningly sweet. Its that sprinkle, that just barely there dash of salt in the sweet that awakens your taste buds and sends that pleasure to your brain.
It seems the earliest roots of salted caramel can be traced, once again, to Brittany, France where a chocolatier named Henri Le Roux pioneered the art form.
Apple Aumoniere w/ Salted Caramel Sauce
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
In a bowl, combine flour & cornstarch; pour in milk slowly while stirring constantly. Add eggs, oil, salt & vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
When batter is ready; heat oil or cooking spray in a crepe pan or skillet. Give the container of batter a quick tap on the counter. Place 1/4 cup of batter into the pan & swirl to even it out & form a circle. When edges start to pull away & the crepe looks cooked in the middle, give it a quick flip & cook for just 10-20 seconds on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter. Should yield 6-8 crepes.
Salted Caramel Sauce
In a saucepan, heat sugar, stirring constantly. The sugar will form clumps & eventually melt into a thick brown, amber colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes. If you notice the butter separating, remove from heat & vigorously whisk to combine it again.
Very slowly, drizzle in the heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Remove from heat & stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to slightly cool down before using. Caramel thickens as it cools.
In a large, heavy skillet melt butter. Add prepared apples & sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning; add brown sugar & cinnamon. Cook, covered over medium-high heat, until apples begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat & drain off any liquid. This juice can be used for something else as it will make the caramel sauce too runny if not drained off.
Divide the apple filling between the 6 crepes, placing each portion in the center of the crepe. Drizzle a bit of the salted caramel sauce over top of the apples. Gather the sides up to enclose the filling, secure with a toothpick.
On serving plates, either pour a small amount of salted caramel sauce in center of plate or create a design with it. Set the apple 'aumoniere' in the center of the plate & sprinkle with chopped walnuts.