Developed by Eric Hubert, who has worked with Jean-Georges as pastry chef for years, this dark, rich millefeuille of caramelized apples is as delicious as it is unique. Thin sliced apples, layered with sugar and citrus, slowly cooked so that they retain their shape but melt into a dense all-apple cake that is irresistible. Take your time and you'll get it right on the first try.
2 cups sugar
15 Granny Smith apples
1. Melt 1 cup sugar in a sauté pan over medium heat, stirring only occasionally, until it bubbles and turns golden brown. Immediately pour it into a standard 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or a 3-inch-deep, 9-inch round cake pan. Swirl the melted sugar around so that it coats the bottom, and set it aside. It will harden while you prepare the oranges and apples.
2. Use a zester to remove the orange zest in long, thin strips. Place the zest in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cook for 1 minute. Drain, then refresh under cold running water for a minute or two. Drain again.
3. Peel the apples, then halve and core them. Cut them by hand or with a mandoline into even slices about 1/8 inch thick; keep the slices neatly stacked.
4. Using only flat pieces (discard the rounded ends), place a layer of apples neatly in the bottom of the loaf pan. Cover with another layer, keeping the layers as level as possible, and pressing down to even them out. Sprinkle with a bit of the remaining 1 cup sugar, then some of the zest. Repeat, adding sugar and zest every 2 or 3 layers.
5. When you get to the top of the pan, keep the lines straight and continue to build layers beyond the top, going about 3 or 4 inches above the pan. Cover the top with plastic, then wrap the whole pan in aluminum foil. Place it in a shallow tray—it will drip—and refrigerate at least overnight, preferably for 24 hours.
6. Drain the juice from the tray (you may reserve it for sorbet or other uses), then unwrap the pan. Drain the excess liquid, then wrap the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil. Place the pan in a large, deep roasting pan, and fill the roasting pan with water halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake at 300°F for 5 hours, then check: The confit is done when all the apple slices are dark brown, it has shrunk to fill only about 3/4 of the mold, and a thin-bladed knife pierces it easily. Cooking time is usually between 5 and 6-1/2 hours; check and replenish the water bath (using boiling water) as necessary.
7. Unwrap the confit, cool, then chill for several hours, up to 2 days. Slice thinly and serve.