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Apple Fritters and Bourbon Ice Cream (for real)

I celebrated my birthday last week. Bryan, who is officially the most amazing person in the world, arranged for two of my dearest and most favorite friends to fly in from New York to surprise me. I was so surprised I spent most of the weekend talking about how surprised I was—and having an incredibly fun time. Even before I knew they would be with me, I had been contemplating what to make for my birthday dessert. The answer appeared to me in the new issue of Bon Appétit: Apple Fritters with Bourbon Ice Cream.

It was like music to my ears and combined two of my favorite things: fried dough (well, fried anything actually) and ice cream. My expectations were way exceeded. Way. I honestly can’t praise this recipe enough, it is incredible and works incredibly well. The fritters are just sweet enough and full of perfectly seasoned pieces of apples. The ice cream has a nicely complicated flavor that pairs well with the comforting fritters. I had some help with the frying (thanks, David!) and luckily a lot of help with eating. This recipe is also great because the whole gang can work together to make these. Frying becomes a group project and you can chat in the kitchen as the blobs of dough fry golden brown and crisp.

The least you can do when your friends come into town is treat them to an amazing dessert. This will do the trick. We were all still talking about it the next day, and here I am still talking about it a week later. Go forth and make these to celebrate your birthday, or any day.

***I used Honeycrisps (unusually delicious Honeycrisps!) in place of the Pink Ladies, but you can use whatever you like. Something at least a little sweet.

Apple Fritters (Recipe from October 2010, Bon Appétit [1])

Fritter Coating
•    1 cup sugar
•    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Apple Filling
•    2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
•    1 pound Pink Lady apples (about 3), peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
•    2 tablespoons sugar
•    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    1/2 cup sparkling apple cider
•    1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Fritter Base
•    1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
•    1/2 cup sugar
•    1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
•    1 teaspoon baking powder
•    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•    2/3 cup buttermilk
•    2 large eggs, separated
•    2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
•    1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
•    Safflower oil (for deep-frying)

Fritter Coating:
Blend sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Coating can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.

Apple Filling:
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon; toss to coat. Sauté until apples are browned in spots and tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add cider and vinegar. Cook until all liquid evaporates, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Set filling aside in skillet to cool.

Fritter Base:
Place double layer of paper towels on work surface. Whisk flour, sugar, lemon peel, baking powder, and spices in large bowl to blend. Whisk buttermilk, egg yolks, and melted butter in medium bowl to blend. Gradually stir buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients. Beat egg whites and coarse salt in another medium bowl until peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into fritter base, then fold in cooled apple filling.
Pour enough oil into heavy large saucepan to reach depth of 1 1/2 inches (5 to 6 cups). Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan. Heat oil to 320°F to 330°F over medium heat. Working in batches of 5 or 6, drop batter into oil by tablespoonfuls. Fry fritters until deep golden brown and cooked through, turning fritters occasionally and adjusting heat to maintain oil temperature, about 4 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer fritters to paper towels. Drain briefly, then toss warm fritters in cinnamon-sugar coating. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet.  Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 350°F oven 5 minutes, if desired.
Mound fritters on platter. Serve with Bourbon Ice Cream.

Bourbon Ice Cream (recipe from October 2010, Bon Appétit [2])

Bring first 3 ingredients to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until milk powder dissolves completely. Remove from heat.
Combine egg yolks, sugar, brown sugar, and coarse salt in large bowl; whisk until thick and blended. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into yolk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens enough to leave path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across and temperature registers 175°F to 178°F, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in bourbon and vanilla extract. Refrigerate custard uncovered until cold, stirring occasionally, at least 3 hours.  Custard can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.
Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container. Cover and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.