12 slices hearty white bread
8 medium (2 1/2 pounds) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
3/4 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons brandy or orange juice
Apricot roses, if desired
Mint leaves, if desired
Heat oven to 400°F. Brush six (6-ounce) custard cups lightly with melted butter.
Trim crusts from bread slices; brush both sides with melted butter. Line inside of each custard cup with
1 slice bread, cutting and piecing as necessary.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in 12-inch skillet until sizzling; add apple slices. Cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes or until apples begin to soften. Add sugar, chopped apricots and lemon zest; toss lightly. Continue cooking 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Spoon apple mixture into prepared custard cups. Cover apple mixture with remaining bread slices, folding under any extra bread.
Place custard cups in baking pan. Bake 18-20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 10 minutes.
Combine apricot preserves, 1/4 cup butter and brandy in 1-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes or until melted.
Unmold charlottes. Place onto individual serving dishes; top with sauce. Garnish with apricot rose (see Tip below) and mint leaves, if desired. Serve charlottes warm or at room temperature.
- Use coarse-textured bread, not soft sandwich-style. Slices should be approximately 1/2-inch thick.
- To make an apricot rose bud, place six dried apricot halves on waxed paper. Cover with second sheet of waxed paper. With rolling pin, roll out until apricots are flat and thin. Use fingers to shape or roll apricot half, at an angle, to form rose bud. Use as a garnish for each charlotte.