Friday, January 1, 2010

Baked Piñata Apple "Ravioli"

New Year's Day has always had a particular cadence in our home that remains true year to year. And, like most life moments where traditions are born, a certain warmth that we cherish.

For us, New Year's Day is a lounge-y day, devoid of any guilt in just hanging out. It's a football day, with its rhythm tuned to the cheers and chants of the Rose Bowl game. It's the one day of the year that the California sunshine and San Gabriel mountains manage to tug at our heartstrings. It's a day we are thankful for the blessings of the year prior, and hopeful for what lies ahead. It's a day spent with whatever family happens to be "in the nest," grateful to have them near. And, it's a day that our traditional Turkey Chili is hot and ready by halftime! These simple reflections mixed with simple traditions mark each "New Year" to the next, with no grandiose resolutions made to muddle the mix.

The only new thing we are adding to the mix this year is a little dessert nibble (proof that no major resolution was made in the Sweets Department...all good things in moderation). This particular little sweet was inspired by my little obsession-of-late with the dessert bars that have become so popular recently -- beautiful stands of iced cupcakes are being offered as an alternative to more traditional tiered caked, and tables are being outfitted with various serving dishes and platters of assorted mini desserts (a la Amy Atlas).

Being that we still have a few of our delicious Piñata apples on hand, and a low-key day to look forward to, I thought a little dessert nibble would be the perfect cap. A sweet and pretty little two- or three-bite nibble arranged like an appetizer might be, with a whipped cream "dipping sauce." A delicious little nibble in a tiny package that couldn't possibly break even the most resolved of resolutions. You CAN just have one!

Baked Apple Ravioli
makes 12 to 14 ravioli

2-3 large apples (about 2 cups), peeled, cored, and finely diced (Piñata, if you can find them, or a crispy, sweet apple of your choice)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 packaged, frozen pie crusts (I used Pillsbury Rolled Pie Crusts), thawed
flour, for dusting
1 egg white, lightly whisked

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add apples and cinnamon. Sauté for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, just until apples soften slightly. Set aside.

3. Sprinkle cutting board or prep surface lightly with flour. Unroll thawed pie crust round onto surface. Sprinkle dough lightly with flour and roll to an approximate 1/8-inch thickness, trying to approximate a square or rectangle as best you can. Once shaped, place dough aside (using rolling pin to ease transfer).

4. Place second round of dough on floured surface and repeat rolling process. Spoon mounds of apple mixture (a heaping tablespoon/mound) onto dough in rows, leaving about a 3/4 inch between mounds. 

5. Using rolling pin to help with the transfer, lay second dough sheet over first, pressing around each mound to seal and identify shape. 

Using a pizza cutter, square cutter, or kitchen knife, cut dough into squares, slicing just between each mound both vertically and horizontally. Fold and/or press edges of each square to firmly seal, using tines of a fork to provide a decorative edge and pinched closure. Brush egg white along edges and lightly over top of each "ravioli" to provide a clear sheen once baked. Sprinkle lightly with sparkling sugar and bake at 375 degrees F. for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve with a "dipping sauce" of whipped cream, flavored with cinnamon (if desired).

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