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Celebrating Chinese New Year with Mandarin Candied Apple

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To truly experience the wondrous joy of Chinese New Year (this year being the Year of the Horse), one must surround themselves with color, joy, laughter and great food. You don't have to be Chinese to celebrate this festive time of the year and many cities across American will be holding parades to honor the Year of the Horse during the 15-day celebration. Personally, I can't think of a better way of celebrating than with some classic dishes from China (real Chinese food, not Americanized Chinese food).

The first time I had Mandarin Candied Apples was in a little eatery in China. I had never had a Chinese dessert before and when the person I was with told me, in English, what it was, I knew I had to try it. They reminded me of little apple dumplings laced with a glaze and accentuated with sesame seeds.

When I decided to add these tasty morsels to my menu, I made one change. In China they used a red variety of apple. I have instead opted for Granny Smith, as I feel the sublte tartness of the Granny Smith brings out an even sweeter and more natural taste to this dessert.

This is a very simple dish to prepare but it is also one which should be eaten right after it is prepared. If you wait too long, the batter enveloping the apple loses its crunch, thus the texture of the entire dessert greatly diminishes.

You want to plate this dessert on a slightly oiled dish so the apples will not stick when you serve them.

Ingredients needed to make Mandarin Candied Apples (serves 4):

  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
  • peanut oil for frying
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Steps:

  1. Pat the apples dry of any moisture and set them aside. Do not worry if they begin to turn brown (this is called oxidation and is normal -- the browning will go away when they are cooked.
  2. Into a wok or large saute pan, add about 2-inches of peanut oil and bring to 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch and eggs to form a batter.
  4. Dip the apple slices into the batter. Carefully place the apples into the wok (in batches) and fry until golden brown.
  5. Remove the apples to a paper towel-lined plate.
  6. Place the apples back into the oil and fry until crisp. Once again remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Remove all but 2 Tbs. oil from the wok. Add the sugar to the wok and increase the heat to high. Stir the sugar until it melts (you are making a caramel).
  8. Place the apples and the sesame seeds into the wok and toss to coat them.
  9. Remove the apples to a slightly oiled serving plate and let cool a few minutes before serving.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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