2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the ramekins
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2/3 cup nonfat milk
1 tablespoon superfine sugar, plus more for sprinkling
10 slices stale challah or raisin bread, 1/2 inch thick (about 12 ounces), crusts removed
Confectioners' sugar (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease four 5.4-ounce ramekins with butter. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the apples, vanilla extract, lemon juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and mix well. Cook on medium-low heat until the apples are tender and any liquid has evaporated; this should take 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the variety of the apples you are using. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. The mixture should thicken and turn a medium caramel color.
2. Combine the eggs, milk, and 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Mix until fully combined.
3. Use a 21/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut out four circles from the bread; these will serve as the base of each portion. Alternatively, use a clean ramekin and a sharp knife to trace and cut your circles. Cut the remaining bread into rectangles about 1 inch wide. Cube, dry and store any excess bread scraps in an airtight container for another use.
4. Quickly dip each bread circle in the egg mixture and place one in the bottom of each ramekin. Then dip the rectangles, standing them upright around the inside edge of each cup, extending above the rim so you can fold them over later to make a lid. Each ramekin will use 6 or 7 strips.
5. Fill each ramekin with the apple mixture. Add a piece or two of bread to the top and fold over the rectangular pieces of bread so the package is sealed completely. It should look like a little crown. Sprinkle each top with a little superfine sugar.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool slightly, then run a knife around the edges and turn them out onto individual plates.
7. Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust each portion with confectioners' sugar, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serving (without confectioners' sugar): 472 calories, 15 grams protein, 68 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams sugar, 16 grams fat, 282 milligrams cholesterol, 471 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.