8 Braeburn apples
8 teaspoons brown sugar
8 small pieces of butter
4 tablespoons cornflour
300 ml milk
300 ml cream
1 cinnamon stick
2 long strips lemon peel
5 tablespoons sugar
6 egg yolks
1 cup caster sugar
3 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Core the apples with an apple corer, making sure you do not cut right to the base.
Lightly score a line around the equator of each apple. Place them in a baking dish just large enough to hold them without being squashed together. Put a teaspoon of sugar and a piece of butter in each cavity. Pour ¼ cup of water into the base of the dish and bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a skewer but not falling apart. Cool.
Crema Catalana: Mix the cornflour with enough milk to make a smooth paste. Put the remaining milk, cream, cinnamon stick, lemon peel and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Combine the egg yolks and the cornflour mixture and whisk into the milk. Place over a low heat and stir until the custard thickens, taking care that it doesn’t curdle. If it does curdle, tip it into a food processor and add a couple of tablespoons of cold cream. Blend and it should become smooth again. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate when cool.
To assemble: Gently enlarge the cavity of each apple with the back of a teaspoon and fill with the cold crema catalana.
Caramel: Put the sugar and water in a small heavy-based saucepan and heat very slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Brush any stray sugar crystals off the side of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water. Bring to the boil and cook until a good caramel colour. Quickly plunge the base of the saucepan into a sink of cold water to stop the cooking process.
Spoon the caramel over the top of the apples, letting it run down the sides, and leave to set.
Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate overnight. Some of the caramel will soften when refrigerated, but they will still be delicious.
Serve with the remaining custard.