So you can imagine my initial blankness when the theme of the September 5 Star Makeover - hosted as always by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks - was announced. Apples. Oh my.
Well, I may not be a big fan of apples in their solid form, but cider is another story. And hard cider? Now we're talking.
In fact, the timing of this challenge turned out perfectly, as I was invited to go on a press trip to the beautiful Charlevoix region of Quebec in early September, where I was introduced to ice cider - or cidre de glace - during a visit to the Ciderie Pedneault. Known in the U.S. as ice apple wine, it's the cider equivalent of ice wine. Think of it as a more intense and layered cider, with the added bonus of being alcoholic. I was, alas, only able to bring back a tiny sample of the ice cider from Ciderie Pedneault, but I was inspired to get a larger quantity in the duty free shop at the airport:
To pair with my sweet and refreshing drink, I decided to make a bar snack - a spicy version of apple chips, studded with chile flakes:
Don't you just love my Alice in Wonderland glasses? They were a birthday present from a dear friend:
Ice Cider Cocktail
2 ounces rye whiskey
2 ounces ice cider
1 ounce ginger water*
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Combine the whiskey, cider, ginger water, and simple syrup in an ice filled shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into a highball glass filled with crushed ice, filling the glass 3/4 full. Top with seltzer and stir. Garnish with an apple chip (recipe below).
*For the ginger water, simmer 1 cup of fresh grated ginger in 2 cups of water, with 3 cloves for 5 - 10 minutes. Cover and let steep for a half hour. Strain and cool.
Chile Apple Chips
2 Honeycrisp apples
Slice the apples as thinly as posible with a mandoline. Brush with lemon juice, then peanut oil. Sprinkle chile flakes and bake on parchment lined cookie sheets at 225 degrees F for 2 hours. Remove and allow to cool on racks. The chips will get crisp as they cool.
The verdict? I won't be making apple pie any time soon, but I really loved the combination of sweet and spicy apple chips with the refreshing ice cider cocktail.
Want to see everyone else's apple creations? Follow the link below and check out the round up on Friday. If anyone can convince me to get excited about apples, it's the 5 Star Makeover crew.