Wonton wrapper apple pie
Make the components of this pretty dessert in advance and all you need to do is assemble and serve.
This is my unholy mashup of an apple pie, a mille-feuille and an apple danish. It fits into my life in a very particular way: when the occasion calls for a pretty dessert, all its component parts – pastry, custard and filling – can all be made well in advance. With the bulk of the work out of the way before the evening begins, assembling them becomes a simple task, and I end up with something that is both familiar and special in just a few minutes.
Even with the trade-off between prep and assembly, I won’t pretend that this is a “quick and easy” recipe, because it’s not. Frankly, it would probably be easier just to make an apple pie. It’s not technically difficult – making the crème pâtissière is the most complicated part, and you could make it even easier by substituting some good vanilla ice cream or whipped cream – but it does require some time and organisation. If you’re up for it, it’s a spectacular dessert to be able to produce apparently from thin air.
Cook’s tip: Wonton wrappers come in two varieties: the pale flour-and-water-only kind and the yellower sort that contain egg. Go for the yellow ones, as they’re a proper pastry that will work beautifully here.
Wonton wrapper apple pie
If you have the space on your baking sheet, add a couple of spares in case of breakages. They’ll keep happily in an airtight container for a week.
8 wonton wrappers
1 teaspoon butter, melted in the microwave
1 teaspoon icing sugar (powdered sugar)
Set your oven to 180°C (350°F).
Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place the wonton wrappers on the paper and brush with melted butter. Using a tea strainer, sprinkle with icing sugar.
Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the tray. Once cool, transfer to an airtight container until needed.
The pastry cream
Essential here, and useful for lots of other dessert ideas.
2 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
3 tablespoons icing sugar (powdered sugar)
Before you begin, prepare a way to cool down the custard by either half-filling the sink or a large bowl with cold water.
You’ll also need to set up a double boiler, which I do by using a small saucepan with inch or so of briskly bubbling water in it and a stainless steel bowl which sits over the top.
Begin off the heat, beating the egg yolks and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the cornflour, a little at a time, beating to incorporate.
Heat the milk (the microwave is useful for this) until steaming hot. Very slowly – to avoid making scrambled eggs – add the milk to the eggs, beating in constantly until thoroughly combined.
Place the mixture bowl over the saucepan of bubbling water and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Taste: if there’s any floury taste, keep cooking.
Transfer the bowl to your cool-down sink or bowl, stirring for 5 minutes until cooled down.
Cover with the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming and refrigerate until required.
Crisp, green apples are lovely here, though any apple you like will work. To make in advance, cook until the apple is just fork-tender. Let the mixture cool before stashing in the fridge, where the apple will continue to soften. Reheat in a small saucepan.
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm dice (for about 300g/2 cups)
30g (1 oz or 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
60g (¼ cup) golden caster sugar (or white sugar)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
Add all the other ingredients. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 10 minutes, until apples are fork-tender. They will give up their a lot of their liquid, so keep cooking gently until the liquid becomes dark and syrupy.
Reheat the apple filling in a small saucepan. For each serving, spread 2 teaspoons of the pastry cream over 3 wontons. Build the layers with a generous spoonful of the apple filling between each, and finish with a wonton and a final sprinkling of icing sugar.