Basi pingguo, pronounced “bah-srr ping-gwor” 拔丝苹果 is a delicious Chinese toffee apple, sometimes translated as “Silk Apple” as the toffee has long, silk-like strings when pulled.
Fried in a delicious batter, these are unusual compared to the Western version of this dessert due to the controlled usage of temperature as part of the experience – the toffee apple is dipped into ice water to harden the toffee into a crystalline shell. As a result, the apples are still warm and soft, the top is crunchy and icy.
A specialty of the Northern Shandong region of China, my version of the dessert uses a touch of Chinese Five Spice in the batter to give a warm, spicy flavor and tart Granny Smith apples to contrast with the sweet coating. Otherwise, this is a very traditional recipe, Citizens! 🙂
A different but exceptional recipe will be found in the book of my friend, Chinese chef extraordinaire Carolyn Phillips, in her forthcoming book “All Under Heaven” (McSweeney’s + Ten Speed Press, 2016) – well worth pre-ordering on Amazon, Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
3 Granny Smith apples
2 egg whites
2 tablespoon flour
¾ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
2 tablespoon cornstarch
peanut or corn oil for deep frying
½ cup sugar
¼ cup orange blossom or wildflower honey
⅓ cup water
1 tablespoon peanut or corn oil
White and black Sesame seeds
Peel the apples, core and cut into wedges about ½ inch thick. Whip egg whites until frothy. Add flour, five spice powder and cornstarch and beat into a smooth batter.
Heat the oil to 375F. Dip each apple wedge into egg white batter, place in hot oil and try, a few at a time, until crisp and brown. Place in a single layer on a warm service platter.
Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan and cook to a hard ball stage syrup; 280 F on candy thermometer.
Pour over apple wedges, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve at once, accompanied by a large crystal bowl of water containing lots of ice cubes.
Each person picks up an apple wedge with a fork or small tongs (which forms silk-like threads as you pick it up) and dips it into the ice water to crystallize the sugar and harden the top.