I first made this tart for an office Thanksgiving potluck so I could test it out before Thanksgiving and it was an enormous hit. Everyone was raving about it and asked for the recipe, which is always a good sign. Because it uses packaged puff pastry, it’s pretty much no-fail, and super quick to whip up.
I kept calling the tart “rustic,” because while the quasi-mosaic part is pretty, the crust isn’t exactly picture perfect. But what it lacks in looks, it definitely makes up for in buttery, flaky, salty, sweet goodness.
Note: I used one package of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry and put the two sheets on top of each other before rolling.
Tart Base Ingredients
14-ounce package puff pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
3 large or 4 medium apples (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small bits
Salted Caramel Glaze Ingredients
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or salted, but then ease up on the sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or half as much table salt)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Heat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Ideally you would use a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan. A smaller pan will make a thicker tart (and you might need fewer apples).
Lightly flour your counter and lay out your pastry. Flour the top and gently roll it until it fits inside your baking sheet, and transfer it there. If you roll it bigger, just trim the edges.
Peel, core, and slice the apples. (Deb suggested using a mandolin but I used one of those all in one peel/core/slice thingies and it worked just fine.) Leaving a 1/2-inch border, fan the apples around the tart in slightly overlapping concentric rectangles — each apple should overlap the one before so that only about 3/4-inch of the previous apple will be visible — until you reach the middle. Sprinkle the apples evenly with the first two tablespoons of sugar then dot with the first two tablespoons butter.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges of the tart are brown and the edges of the apples begin to take on some color. If you sliced your apples by hand and they were on the thicker side, you might need a little more baking time to cook them through. The apples should feel soft, but dry to the touch. If your puffed pastry bubbles dramatically in any place during the baking time, simply poke it with a knife or skewer so that it deflates.
Meanwhile, about 20 minutes into the baking time, make your glaze. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt your last 1/4 cup sugar; this will take about 3 minutes. Cook the liquefied sugar to a nice copper color, another minute or two. Off the heat, add the sea salt and butter and stir until the butter melts and is incorporated. Add the heavy cream and return to the stove over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until you have a lovely, bronzed caramel syrup, just another minute, two, tops. Set aside until needed. You may need to briefly rewarm it to thin the caramel before brushing it over the tart.
After the tart has baked, transfer it to a cooling rack, but leave the oven on. Using very short, gentle strokes, and brushing in the direction that the apples fan to mess up their design as little as possible, brush the entire tart, including the exposed pastry, with the salted caramel glaze.
Return the apple tart to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the caramel glaze bubbles. Let tart cool complete before cutting into 12 squares.
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
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And…my obsession with chocolate and salted caramel continues.
When David Lebovitz posted this recipe, my aunt immediately asked me if I had been to the bakery (Little Flower Cafe) he referenced in his post. Sadly, I have not, but it is now on my list of places to try. Since David shared a recipe adapted from one of the Little Flower Cafe recipes, I figured making the recipe could tide me over until I find a friend willing to schlep to Pasadena with me.
While these tartlets are a bit time consuming, they are not only delicious but absolutely gorgeous. My coworkers were oohing and aahing over them at the office, and their small size makes it perfectly acceptable to have one or two. Or three. Or um, maybe four. They’re a great party dessert too, because they’re easy to hold and won’t last for more than a few bites. In fact, I may bring these to my friends’ annual New Years Eve party.
Chocolate Dough Ingredients
4 ounces (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (110g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (35g) rice flour (or use 1 cup, 140g, all-purpose flour, total)
6 tablespoons (50g) cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
Salted Caramel Filling Ingredients
4 ounces (115g) soft, salted butter caramels
3 tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream
4 1/2 ounces (130g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (90ml) heavy cream
flaky sea salt
- To make the tartlet dough, beat the butter and the sugar just until smooth in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand. Add the egg, salt, and vanilla, and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, rice flour, and cocoa powder, then mix it into the creamed butter.
- Butter the indentations of two mini-muffin tins with 12 places in each, or one mini-muffin tin with 24 places. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll each into a 3/4-inch (2cm) ball. As you work, put the dough balls in the indentations of the muffin tins. Take your thumb and press the dough down in the center of each indentation, then use your thumb to press the dough up the sides. (If the dough is sticky, dampen your thumb very lightly with water or oil.) Freeze the pans of dough for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
- Bake the tartlet shells for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough appear dry and cooked. Remove from oven and use the handle of a wooden spoon to widen and smooth the inside of the little tartlet shells, pressing the dough that’s puffed up somewhat firmly against the sides. Let cool completely, then remove the tartlet shells from the muffin tins – the tip of a paring knife might be needed to help aid them out – and set them on a wire cooling rack.
- Make the caramel filling by warming the cream with the caramels in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Divide the caramel into each of the tartlet shells.
- Make the chocolate ganache by heating the cream in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then whisk the chocolate into the cream until the mixture is smooth.
- Top each tartlet with some of the ganache and take a butter knife or small metal spatula and swipe off the excess. Sprinkle each tartlet with a few grains of sea salt.
Recipe by David Lebovitz.
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Happy Pi(e) Day!
Have you ever had a Take 5 candy bar? It’s one of those treats that satisfies any salty sweet craving you may have because it’s filled with pretzels, caramel, peanuts, and peanut butter then covered in chocolate. Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds. Needless to say, when I saw Brown Eyed Baker’s tweet about a Take 5 candy bar pie recipe, I knew it had to be bumped to the top of my to-make list.
These pies are amazing. Salty, sweet, gooey, crunchy–they’re perfect! Because I love everything mini, I made my pies in mini tart tins. Unfortunately, the crusts did not hold up well at all (major crumble) and I’m not sure if it’s because the pretzel crumbs were so fine or because I used the tart tins, but I think
if when I make these again, I’ll leave the pretzels in chunks rather than finely grind them.
Pretzel Crust Ingredients
4 ounces pretzel sticks, finely ground in a food processor or blender
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Caramel Sauce Ingredients
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¾ cup heavy cream, warmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup creamy peanut butter, melted
1/3 cup prepared caramel sauce
¼ cup coarsely chopped peanuts
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the ground pretzels, melted butter, and sugar. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and chill in the refrigerator until firm, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Caramel Sauce Preparation
Whisk the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium-size heavy saucepan until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook the sugar mixture, without stirring, until it becomes a rich caramel color, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream until the caramel sauce is smooth, using caution as the mixture may bubble up. (If the sauce seizes, stir it over low heat until the hardened caramel is melted.) Whisk in the butter and set aside.
Assemble the Pie
Smooth the warmed peanut butter evenly over the bottom of the pretzel crust. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Pour the caramel sauce over the peanut butter layer and gently spread with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts over the caramel layer. Refrigerate for another 10 minutes. Finish with a smooth layer of melted chocolate. Refrigerate the pie until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.
Pie can then remain at room temperature until serving. If you have leftovers, cover with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.
Since I already had a pie recipe in mind, I decided to give one of the many crust recipes in the cookbooks a try. I settled on a butter/shortening recipe, because those are usually may favorite and the easiest to work with for pie crust novices like me. Have I mentioned lattice pie crusts are the bane of my existence? I had pretty much given up on ever making a pretty one.
Well, much to my surprise, this lattice top looks pretty damn nice and my coworkers kept complimenting me on it. The dough was easy to work with which made it easy to lay the strips down without breakage, and the finished product is buttery and flakey thanks to the butter and shortening combination. The salted caramel in the pie was a nice addition, and the lemon juice added just enough tartness to keep it from being cloyingly sweet.
This is definitely a pie I’ll be making again soon!
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup cold water
- Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine 5 or 6 times to cut in the butter.
- Remove the lid and fluff the mixture with a fork, lifting it up from the bottom of the bowl. Scatter the shortening pieces over the flour and pulse the machine 6 or 7 times. Remove the lid and fluff the mixture again.
- Drizzle half of the water over the flour mixture and pulse the machine 5 or 6 times. Remove the lid, fluff the pastry, and sprinkle on the rest of the water. Pulse the machine 5 or 6 times more, until the pastry starts to form clumps. Overall, it will look like coarse crumbs. Dump the contents of the processor bowl into a large mixing bowl.
- Test the pastry by squeezing some of it between your fingertips. If it seems a little dry and not quite packable, drizzle a teaspoon or so of cold water over the pastry and work it in with your fingertips. Using your hands, pack the pastry into 2 balls, as you would pack a snowball. Make one ball slightly larger than the other; this will be your bottom crust. Knead each ball once or twice, then flatten the balls into ¾-inch-thick disks on a floured work surface. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling. About 10 minutes before rolling, transfer the pastry to the freezer to make it even firmer.
To mix by hand: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss well, by hand, to mix. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients; toss. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour until it is broken into pieces the size of split peas. Add the shortening and continue to cut until all of the fat is cut into small pieces. Sprinkle half of the water over the dry mixture; toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture. Add the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. Pastry made by hand often needs a bit more water, so add it 1 to 2 teaspoons at a time-if it seems necessary-until the pastry can be packed. Form the pastry into balls, as instructed above, then shape and refrigerate as directed.
Roll the bottom crust to fit a 9-inch pan, and cut the top crust as a lattice, approximately 1-inch in width or as desired. Chill the rolled crust while you prepare the salted caramel and apple filling.
Salted Caramel Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (recommended: Maldon sea salt flakes)
Salted Caramel Preparation
Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a low boil until the mixture turns a deep, golden brown color, almost copper.
Cook’s Note: This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. (They’re not kidding. After 30 minutes I decided to turn the heat up a bit and it still took a while.) Keep an eye on it, if the caramel begins to smoke, you’ve burned it and you’ll have to start over.
Once the mixture has turned a copper color, remove it from the heat and immediately add the heavy cream – the mixture will bubble rapidly and steam – be cautious as the sugar will be very hot.
Whisk the final mixture together well over low heat and sprinkle in the sea salt. Set the caramel aside while you prepare the apple filling.
4 to 6 lemons
5 to 6 medium to large apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/3 cup raw sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl. Core, peel, and thinly slice the whole apples. Cook’s Note: A mandolin works great for producing very thin slices. (I used the apple peeler/slicer/corer with the handle that you turn–I love it!)
Dredge all the apple slices in the freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning and to add flavor. Set the prepared apples aside.
In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.
Assemble the Pie
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees F (depending on the hotness of your oven).
Gather your rolled pie crust, salted caramel, and apple mixture. Begin by layering 1/3 of the apples in the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the apples. Add 1/3 of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again. Cook’s Note: Save a small portion of the caramel to pour on top once the lattice is assembled.
Assemble the lattice crust and flute the edges of the crust. Pour the last bit of caramel on top. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and lightly sprinkle with raw sugar and sea salt.
Bake the pie on a baking sheet larger than the pie pan for 20 minutes (otherwise the caramel will bubble over and burn on the bottom of your oven). Reduce the oven temperature to 325 to 350 and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. You can test the apples for doneness with a long toothpick or small knife. The apples should be just soft.
Let the pie cool, then slice and enjoy.
Crust recipe from Apple Pie by Ken Haedrich.
Pie recipe adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds via Cooking Channel.
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Note to self: Make sure you have your pie pans before making a pie. Also, the next time you and mom comment on how many pie pans your mom has, maybe think about how she has YOUR pie pans. So uh, yeah, once again, I made a pie in a cake pan. That’s apparently just how I roll.
But look at those toasted marshmallows. I mean, who really cares what kind of pan it’s in, right? My coworkers didn’t care, that’s for sure! This pie in a cake pan was devoured quickly (dare I say, for breakfast by many), and when people went back for seconds it was long gone. Side note: It’s a well known fact that the only way to guarantee sweets at the office is to hoard some at your desk. This is true of every office, isn’t it?
Photos of the process.
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 sticks butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325.
Add melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together until a crust forms. Press in to a 9 inch pie pan (or cake pan, whatever).
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag of large marshmallows
Combine milk and heavy cream in a saucepan and heat over low heat. Watch carefully and once it begins to simmer, remove from heat and add in chocolate. Stir with a spatula until chocolate is melted, then whisk in sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs. Slowly add eggs to chocolate mixture while whisking.
Pour chocolate filling in to graham crust. Bake until the chocolate is no longer liquid, about 30-35, checking after 20 minutes. Remove the pan and top with as many large marshmallows as you can fit. Heat pie under broiler until the tops of marshmallows are golden. (This happens quickly, don’t leave the room.)
Let cool then refrigerate for 1-2 hours before cutting. Spray a knife with non-stick spray before slicing. It’s impossible to get a neat slice, I promise.
Recipe adapted from how sweet it is.