Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Autumn Fuji Apple Crostini with Whipped Herbed Goat Cheese, Bourbon Caramelized Shallots, a Drizzle of Winter White Honey, + Fresh Basil on Bacon Fat Fried Baguette Rounds

Autumn Fuji Apple Crostini with Whipped Herbed Goat Cheese, Bourbon Caramelized Shallots, a Drizzle
of Savannah Bee Company's Winter White Honey, + Fresh Basil on Bacon Fat Fried Baguette Rounds
This recipe has quickly become my most requested appetizer by my friends + family. Every time I pull these out for a party, it literally turns into a party because everyone is so psyched that I had made them. In fact, they are so fabulous that I couldn't wait one more day to share this recipe with you. I had every intention of waiting until October/November because I actually named them "Autumn Fuji Apple Crostini". But it's just so damn good that you don't even care... you know when you sneak downstairs to eat ice cream for breakfast? Oh, y'all don't do that. Scratch that... me either (okay, I totally do). Anyway, funnily enough, this apple crostini was inspired by one of my favorite sandwiches, called "The Green Goat", from Starland Cafe in Savannah, Georgia. If you ever get to visit SAV (the city of my soul), you must go and eat there. All of their food is amazing, so there isn't really a bad choice on the menu. It is in the most adorable, painted bright blue, townhouse and it just makes you feel like you're at home and your mom is making the best panini in the world. So this "Great Goat Sandwich" starts off with grilled ciabatta bread, and then is smothered in whipped, herbed goat cheese, and layered with slices of a tart granny smith apple and caramelized onions before gets a drizzle of honey, and makes its way into the panini press to get all crispy on the outside and ooey-gooey in the middle. If you are adventurous like me, ask them to throw some bacon on the sandwich. Trust me, you'll thank me later! So after we tried the life-changing, mind-boggling, smack-yo-mama panini, I just knew I had to use those same flavors in one of my new recipes-- and boy did it work! Instead of a big, messy sandwich, I flipped the game up and made them into crostini. And they have been a hit ever since, not messing with y'all, my friends have an apple crostini radar or something because they show up the second that are assembled. So here's the game plan for y'all...

1. Start off by caramelizing your bourbon shallots (you can use onions, but shallots bring me life)
2. Make the herbed, whipped goat cheese until it is nice and fluffy
3. Slice up the baguette into rounds and fry them in bacon fat until they are lightly golden brown, but still have a little chewiness to it. You don't want a crumbly mess on your hands (And I know some of you aren't southerners and don't have 10 mason jars of bacon fat in your fridge, but we do, so if you don't, just use another oil)
4. Get all the side work done... thinly shave the Fuji apple, mince up the fresh mixed herbs, and get your honey ready
5. Assemble.... and demolish till you can't nom no'mo

Don't they already look so pretty?? I mean that's just bread, cheese, and onions, y'all! But I'm going to lay a truth bomb on you, you need a very specific kind of honey to make these crostini really go above and beyond. And apparently I'm only celebrating Savannah businesses today, so shout out to all of the lovely people there. You have probably have heard of Savannah Bee Company because it's at most grocery stores in the Southeastern region. Hopefully, your local store will carry the honey of all HONEYS, it's called Winter White Honey . Essentially what happens is a Savannah Bee spins together honey from the wildflower fields of the Rocky Mountains, forming it into a crystallized honey that is creamy, smooth, spreadable, and absolutely delicious. If you can't find it at the store, you can order it online some Savannah Bee Company or Amazon, and I promise it is worth buying!!
two large, glorious jars of winter white honey 
Anyway, once all of tasks are finished and your mis-en-place is all set up, it's time to start assembling them. Grab one of you bacon fat fried crostini, spread on a thick layer of the whipped, herbed goat cheese, followed by a lovin' spoonful of those bourbon caramelized shallots, and a couple thinly sliced shavings of Fuji apples. Now, gather up all of those semi-assembled bread rounds and place them onto a serving dish, grab a small spoon and just start drizzling that whipped, caramel-y honey all over the tops of the crostini. If you love honey (and this is pretty concentrated honey I must say), then go all out... if you're not into the sweet-salty-savory combination, then just do a tad. It's honestly up to y'all!! All that's left to do is to garnish with some minced up fresh basil (and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes if you want a little bit of a kick). And they're done... that's it! I hope that y'all will get around to trying this recipe because it is quickly climbing to the top of our list as one of our favorite things to me!! Enjoy y'all :)

For the Whipped Herb Goat Cheese:
4oz Softened Cream Cheese (room temperature)
½C Heavy Cream (chilled)
10oz of Goat Cheese
¼C Mixed Fresh Herbs (we used basil, rosemary, chives, thyme, + parsley), Finely Minced
Salt + Pepper, To Taste 

For the Caramelized Shallots:
6 Shallots, Thinly Sliced
4T Unsalted Butter
1T Bourbon
Salt, Pepper, + Heavy Pinch of Sugar

For the Autumn Fuji Apple Crostini:
1 Skinny French Baguette, Sliced into Rounds
Rendered Bacon Fat, For Frying the Bread (olive oil is a good substitute)
Prepared Whipped Herb Goat Cheese, (room temperature)
1-2 Fuji Apples, Thinly Sliced (any apple will do though, but Fuji has been the best flavor)
Savannah Bee Company’s Winter White Honey, For Drizzling on top of the Crostini
Fresh Mixed + Minced Herbs, For Garnishing

1. For the Whipped Herb Goat Cheese: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the softened cream cheese, roasted garlic cloves, and salt until thoroughly mixed. Scrape down the sides and turn the mixer to medium-high speed and add in ¼C heavy cream. Continue whipping, while continuously adding a little bit of crumbled goat cheese at a time, until the goat cheese is combined throughout. Add in the remaining ¼C heavy cream and beat on high until it is light & fluffy. Next, season with salt, pepper, + fresh mixed herbs to season it to taste for the goat cheese. And then, spoon this mixture onto the prepared crostini.
2. For the Caramelized Shallots: Remove the ends from one shallot and peel the outside "paper" layer. There will be onion layer of onion that needs to be removed. Once that layer is removed, the shallot will naturally split into to sections. Repeat with the other shallots. Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat, and melt butter in the skillet. Thinly slice each shallot section creating rings. Add shallots to melted butter, and stir to coat shallots in the butter. Cook until shallots start to become translucent, stirring often, about 4 to 5 minutes. The shallot rings will begin to break into individual rings, which is a good thing. Add whiskey, and stir. Once whiskey is absorbed into the shallots, reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking, stirring often, until shallots are soft and caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Once they have been caramelized, remove them from hot pan to a bowl (this is an important because they need to cool, so it will not melt the whipped goat cheese).
3. For the Bacon Fat Fried Baguette Rounds: In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, and put in the rendered bacon fat. You will want about 1-2 inches of melted bacon fat. Next, begin to fry the baguette rounds for a couple minutes until they are golden brown and slightly crunchy. Repeat the bacon fat process as well as frying the baguette rounds until all of the bread has been fried/toasted. Let these cool for a few minutes.
4. Assembling the Fuji Apple Crostini: Spread a generous layer of your herbed whipped goat cheese on top of the cooled fried bread slices. Next, spoon on a dollop of the caramelized shallots and spread them out over the whipped goat cheese, making sure not to mix them up too much with all of the cheese. Now, thinly slice the Fuji apples and into the shape of a moon. Drizzle on some of Savannah Bee Company’s Winter White Honey all over the crostini. This honey is what dreams are made of… this white honey feels somewhat crystallized and packs double the amount of intense honey flavor anytime you use it. Finish it all off with a sprinkling of fresh mixed herbs. Place all of the crostini onto a big serving platter and enjoy every last bit, and I’m going to put it out there, these are the best crostini I’ve ever had!!