11 medium Royal Gala apples (or other sweet apples), divided
3 cinnamon sticks
16 cardamom pods, cracked in half with your hands or gently with a meat mallet
1 medium navel orange, unpeeled and sliced
2 slices ginger (1/4-inch thick each)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, divided
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups sparkling water
Juice 10 apples in a juicer according to manufacturer's directions. This should yield about 5 cups juice (or use 5 cups 100% pressed apple juice or all-natural cider). Pour juice into a medium saucepan and add cinnamon sticks, cardamom, orange, ginger and a pinch of nutmeg.
Bring apple juice mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside and let cool at room temperature. Transfer mixture to a sealable container, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour, or ideally overnight, to allow flavors to meld.
When ready to serve, core remaining apple and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Immerse apple slices immediately in a bowl of water with lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing (browning).
Using a cheesecloth-lined or fine-mesh strainer, strain spices and sediment from apple juice, discarding solids. Fill a martini glass with ice and pour 1/2 cup spiced apple juice into glass. Add 3 to 4 apple slices and top with about 3 tbsp sparkling water. Garnish each glass of apple fizz with a pinch of nutmeg; serve immediately.
A classic finish to any holiday meal, these elegant, individual-sized apple crumbles are topped with creamy, decadent crème fraîche. Their presentation is sure to impress, and they can be made almost entirely in advance and assembled at the last moment.
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