A cocktail party thrown by our hosts, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, featured sustainable and regional fare from organic crimson lentils to organic wines and regional beers in light weight eco-friendly aluminum cans.
Everything was delicious but the Baked Apple Rings with Cinnamon Pumpkin Puree really wowed me. I asked Chef Joe Nobile for the recipe and he turned to its creator, Mike Dean, executive sous chef for the Yellowstone National Park Lodges.
Mike admitted this was the first time he'd ever written actual recipes, apologizing for the informality of the recipes and adding "sometimes for special events we don't write recipes because they often won't be used again. Sometimes we actually get to 'just cook' and not be constrained to recipes."
This informal gathering of travel writers and park personnel fit into both categories so I'm going to relay the recipe just as Mike emailed it to me.
Mike Dean's Yellowstone Park Baked Apple Rings with Cinnamon Pumpkin Puree
Cinnamon Toast Circles
Cut small rounds of white bread, lightly fry in melted butter over medium-high heat. When fried crispy and golden, sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture.
This is simple; take a can of commercially produced pumpkin pie filling and whip it with asmall amount of whipping cream, a pinch of cinnamon and some powdered sugar to the sweetness tyou desire.
Simple but can be tedious (which means you probably won't find this dessert on lodge menus).
Cut Granny Smith apples into rounds across the core. Use two different sized cutters. The first should be the same size as the bread rounds and remove the peel and outer section of the apple. The second should remove the seeds and core, leaving a hollow apple disc.
Lightly dredge this disc with cinnamon sugar then place on a parchment paper-lined baking pan and bake in a 375-degree oven about 12 minutes or until the apple is tender and beginning to brown.
Spread a little pumpkin puree on each bread round to allow the apple and bread to stick together, then pipe a dollop of the pumpkin mixture into the apple to fill it. At this point, garnish as you like, with a small dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkle of nutmeg or anything else to to make them "pretty".
Don't expect any leftovers.