1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed, light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
7 medium-sized, firm, juicy apples
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons apple brandy (optional)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup sparkling apple cider (hard or non-alcoholic)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan.
Bring the water to a boil in a small pot and remove it from the heat. Stir in the molasses and the baking soda. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix until incorporated.
Sift together the ginger, cinnamon, cloves, flour and baking powder. Add the salt. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the cooled molasses mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, stirring well after each addition. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Peel, core and slice the apples 3/16 inch thick. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sugar, the apple brandy if you are using it, lemon juice and salt. Cook the apples, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but still retain their shape.
To serve: Cut the gingerbread into pieces. Top with warm apples and dollop with some of the Cider Sabayon (recipe below).
(Planning Ahead: The gingerbread can be made a day in advance. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. The apples can be made 2 days in advance. Keep refrigerated. Reheat before serving.)
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large, stainless steel bowl. Whisk in the sparkling cider.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk the egg mixture vigorously for about 5 minutes, until it is thick and there are no air bubbles. The sabayon will mound slightly when dropped from the whisk.
Remove the bowl from the pan and place over an ice bath. Whisk until cold.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the sabayon. Refrigerate until ready to use.
(Planning Ahead: The sabayon can be made a day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)