I am working on something Very Special, and slightly complicated. It involves apples and cheddar cheese, and a weird dough that involves another cheese. I’ll update that business as soon as it comes out of the oven later (watch for an ETA in this post). But in the meanwhile, let me tell you about the apple filling that I just winged at the stovetop – it’s delightful!

Apple Jam*

3 medium Cortland apples, diced small**
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp water

1. Heat a non-stick pan*** on high, and add butter. As soon as butter is melted and foaming, add the apples, and mix well to share the butter around.
2. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Continue to cook over high heat for another minute or so. Let the apples get juicy.
3. Add sugar, one teaspoon at a time, over the course of the next eight minutes-ish. You want the juice in the apples to get sticky from the sugar, so that there’s no juice left in the bottom at the end – you want it to be saucy, not drippy.
4. Stir in the cornstarch, and cook cook for another 1-2 minutes, until it comes together, all saucy and lovely.
5. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

More as this business of Very Special develops – I want to make sure it’s successful before I give you the rest of it ♥.

Beautiful ETA
So! The Very Special kitchen project turned out OSM! Here’s the skinny – I took the recipe from Smitten Kitchen (which, if you don’t read it, you really should go take a look – she has delicious business going on there) for crescent jam and cheese cookies and I did it up. I used the apple jam that I made for the filling, and added 3/8c of finely shredded cheddar cheese to the dough. Voilà New England Apple Pie Crescents – they. Are. BRILLIANT! I’m not sure anything so delicious has come from my oven before.

I think I’m most excited that I was able to wing some baking business for the first time.  I still have a long way to go as far as knowing how to bake (right now I like to say that I know how to follow a recipe, more than I know the ins and outs of baking), but this is definitely a Good Start. Exciting!

Some quickie notes on making the crescent cookies:

1. Use farmer’s cheese if at all possible. I know, I know, it can be hard to find. But it’s worth it. I tried using marscapone on the last batch, because farmer’s cheese just couldn’t be found. The texture was just different enough that I didn’t like those as much as the batch before. The dough was heavier – less flake. The comments on Smitten Kitchen have a lot of recommendations for fill-ins if you can’t find the farmer’s cheese, including ricotta and chevre (mmmmm). I will probably try both at some point.

2. Weigh the flour if you can. I’m pretty sure her two cups are sifted before measured. The cookies come out lighter – airier – when I measured the flour by weight instead of by cup.

3. Powdered sugar – don’t do it with a spoon. It only serves to make a mess. If you have a sifter or a strainer, dump some of the sugar in there, position it over the cookies, and gently tap the side. You’ll get the desired result. If you do this over the sink, it’s totally un-messy. Also, you totally want to wait for the cookies to cool before you powder them. If you don’t wait, the sugar will melt, and you’ll have a gummy film instead of a powdery dusting.

That’s about it. They’re time consuming, but not much more than, say, thumbprint cookies. And delicious =)

***

*Under no circumstances should you ask Jaquelyn why it’s not apple jelly. I will tell you that it’s not apple jelly because it has big chunks in it. That’s all you need to know. Trust me, you do not want her answer to the difference between jam and jelly. I made the mistake of asking this morning, and now I cannot get rid of it.
**I cut mine into about two pints of cool water and with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, because I didn’t want the apples to turn brown. Before cooking, I drained them thoroughly.
***I suppose you could use cast iron for this, but depending on how well seasoned the pan is, there is potential for a cleanup that involves some swearing.

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