Delicious, simple ingredients, easy to make, but needs time. “Mele coperte” covered apples with custard and meringue, my grandma’s dessert
Mele coperte is the dessert that my grandma Giuliana Tamanti Colombini used to prepare for family or for friends who more frequently came to our house. I feel that it is an invention of hers with mixed cultural ascendancies. She was born into a Roman family of famous architects, the Busiri Vici’s and of officials of the Pope, the Barluzzi’s. One of these families had lived at the Quirinale palace until the capture of Rome when the new lodger became King Savoia.
In marrying my grandfather Giovanni Colombini, Giuliana went to live in Modena where her father in law was rector of the University. This is where my mother Francesca was born and where the family lived until they returned to Montalcino, where the Colombini’s actually originated form.
Each of these places left a trace on our table. In our house there was a real cult for eating Tortellini and the Zampone, as it was usual to eat Gnocchi alla Romana and Saltimbocca. I would not be surprised if in the dessert that I am telling you about today there is a real mixture of food cultures and I like to think that it is exclusive to my home.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE “MELE COPERTE DI NONNA GIULIANA”
8 Golden delicious apples, half a litre of full-fat fresh milk, 4 eggs, 100 g of sugar, 100 g of icing sugar, 30 g of flour, grated rind of half a lemon
PREPARATION OF THE “MELE COPERTE DI NONNA GIULIANA”: APPLES, CUSTARD AND MERINGUE
Cook the Golden delicious apples in the oven, remove the apple cores and the skin and collect the cooked pulp in a bowl.
In a saucepan prepare the custard mixing the 4 egg yolks with 100 g of sugar and then the flour. When the mixture is smooth add slowly, little by little the boiling hot milk so that it gets incorporated without making lumps. At the end add the lemon rind and put the custard on the hob, over a low flame for about 5 minutes continuously stirring so that it does not stick.
In a wide and low dish pour half of the custard, a layer of apples and then the rest of the custard.
To the egg whites add half of the icing sugar and whisk by hand or with an eclectic mixer at a medium speed. When the mixture is quite solid add the rest of the sugar and mix delicately so that it does not lose its stiffness.
Cover the custard with the meringue and put in the preheated oven at 75°C for about two hours until the meringue surface doesn’t colour a little.
Serve still hot, but it is also delicious the next day cold from the refrigerator where the meringue is softened by the custard.
WINE PAIRING FOR THE “MELE COPERTE”
Try and match the Mele coperte with the Passito from Fattoria del Colle, a simple dessert to be matched with a splendid dessert wine with hints of honey.