Once a year I get together with a group of seven girlfriends, most of whom I’ve known since high school, for a weekend of snowshoeing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Though most of us grew up in the same town, we’re now scattered around the East Coast and we don’t get to see each other nearly as much as we would like. This annual weekend is a chance to reconnect with each other, relax, and challenge ourselves a little with a trek in the snowy White Mountains.
One of my favorite parts of the weekend are the meals that we cook together. For weeks beforehand we’ll trade emails with ideas for the delicious things we’ll cook, and by the time the weekend actually happens we usually have plans for enough food to feed a group twice our size.
This year was no exception. Of the many things we planned and cooked together, though, the one thing that stands out the most was something that wasn’t part of the plans. Saturday morning, we gathered around the table for a breakfast of freshly baked maple oat scones and yogurt. My friend Shannon placed a jar on the table – apple spoon sweets. I’d never heard of spoon sweets before, and I learned they are a treat popular in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Russia.
Shannon’s version of spoon sweets was a subtly spicy blend of apple, cardamom, orange zest, and vanilla. Stirred into a bowl of plain yogurt, it was divine. The perfect thing to get us ready for a day of snowshoeing in the chilly mountain air.
Shannon’s Apple Spoon Sweets:
2 cups grated apples
2 cups sugar
2.5 cups water
1 Tbs orange zest
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp vanilla
Brink the water and sugar to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves completely. Add orange zest and cardamom. Reduce to simmer and cook until sugar water thickens to coat the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). Remove cardamom pods. Add apples. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 25-30 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.