Winter in Southern California is pretty sweet. Sunbathing at the end of December? Check. Navel oranges and tangerines hanging ripe on the trees in January? Of course. How could I ever want to move away from here! (Sigh, yes, sometimes I do think about it, especially since I'll be needing to find a job this coming June....)
Stepping out of the house right now, I can pick a bowlful of fresh fruit from trees mere paces away. One of my favorites are the sweet and tart little tangerines that we have. They're cute and cheery, easily peeled snacks that are packed with Vitamin C. My sister and I would eat them all the time when we played outside as kids, pretending we were foraging and living off the land in some wild country. As we did then, we still eat these guys just as they are, segment by segment. But over the years I've been collecting interesting recipes that use them in creative ways.
Going through my recipe clippings a couple weeks ago, I came across this one for tangerine cream from Ford's Filling Station. Actually, the focus was more on the pear buckle, which was finished off with a dollop of cream, but for me, it was the tangerine-scented cream that really stood out. The rest of the recipe, with its oodles of butter and sugar, left me more than a little aghast.
With the inspiration in place, however, it was easy to make some tweaks and I ended up with this delectable apple pandowdy. What is a pandowdy, you ask? Well, I didn't know this myself until I delved into the mysteries of cobblers versus crisps versus grunts versus buckles, but a pandowdy is a baked dessert in which a bottom layer of fruit is topped by a rolled-out crust. Here, slices of Golden Delicious and Fuji apples soften and start to caramelize while a rich crust, fragrant with cardamom (yes I'm on an apple-cardamom kick!), sits golden and crunchy on top.
You can bake these up in individual ramekins for quick and easy serving, or, if you'd rather save time on the preparation end of things, simply assemble in a single shallow baking dish. The tangerine cream is absolutely marvelous, so be sure you have a couple of tangerines on hand!
Apple Pandowdy with Tangerine Cream
Inspired by Ford's Filling Station, in Bon Appetit October 2010
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 2/3 cup flour
3 pounds apples (Golden Delicious and Fuji)
2 Tbs. cornstarch
2 Tbs. (packed) brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. vanilla extract
for the tangerine cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. superfine sugar
1 tsp. finely grated tangerine zest
2 Tbs. tangerine juice
Beat together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, cardamom, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly mix in the flour until well incorporated and dough clumps together, but do not over mix. Form dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour to overnight.
Peel, core, and slice apples into 1/4-inch slices. Toss with cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, and vanilla and spread evenly in an 8 x 10-inch pan.
Roll the dough out to fit the pan and place over the apples. Cut about a dozen 1-inch steam vents over the surface of the dough, and bake in a preheated oven at 400 F for 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown and apples are soft. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes.
While pandowdy is cooling, whip heavy cream together with sugar, tangerine zest, and tangerine juice until soft peaks form. Scoop servings of pandowdy into dessert bowls and top with freshly whipped tangerine cream.