Through our Low-Fat Baking series, we spent much of the year trying to figure out new ways to cut the fat out of dessert. In this adaptation of the lush classic, tarte tatin, we replaced the traditional pastry tart with an almond-flavored nonfat cake. The apples are cooked with sugar and a minuscule amount of butter until they are coated with a thick golden glaze, developing an intense flavor. The trick is to get the apples to caramelize correctly: not too light and liquid-y, nor too dark and sticky (watch out for scorching). To enhance the taste of this simple cake, we added a little amaretto.
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 pounds apples (preferably Fuji apples or green-skinned Golden Delicious)
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup thawed frozen nonfat egg substitute (equivalent to 1 egg)
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons amaretto
2 egg whites
1 cup low-fat whipped topping, optional
Combine 1 cup sugar and water in heavy, deep, oven-proof 10-inch skillet. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook to light caramel stage or pale amber color, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Swirl in butter and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Set aside.
Peel, core and cut each apple into 4 wedges. Arrange about 3/4 of apple wedges in tight single layer over caramel. Cut remaining apple wedges in halves and place atop first apple layer. Cover skillet and cook over medium-low heat until apples exude juices, about 10 minutes.
Uncover skillet, increase heat to medium and continue cooking about 25 to 30 minutes, or until caramel syrup is thick, but not burnt (adjust heat to low ,if caramel starts cooking too fast). Baste apples occasionally with caramel syrup, using baster or spoon. Remove from heat and cool.
Sift cake flour with baking powder and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in bowl. Make well in center. In another bowl whisk egg substitute, apple juice, remaining 1 teaspoon almond extract and amaretto. Add to well in flour mixture, slowly stirring in dry ingredients just to blend.
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, then beat until stiff but not dry. Fold small amount of batter into egg whites, then fold mixture back into remaining batter. Pour over apples in skillet. Bake at 350 degrees 25 to 30 minutes, or until wood pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
Cool 5 minutes. Loosen cake around edges. Place platter over skillet and carefully invert pan, shaking gently to release cake onto platter. Spoon any remaining glaze over cake. Serve with low-fat whipped topping. Makes 12 servings.