Every Friday, I will present an enticing dessert recipe! They will be my own creations or adaptations from other recipes. Some will be pleasantly simple, while others will require more attention and skill. Both decadent and healthy options are in the mix. Most importantly, they will be stunning and distinctively flavorful.
Flavor always means more than looks, I know. But sometimes my favorite part of baking is delighting in the colors and composition.
I idealize this indulgent joy of pretty pretty desserts.
There is something about using my time and hands and creativity to create something special for people I love.
There’s nothing like experimenting with ingredients and techniques, and seeing my guests’ eyes widen at the sight of the creations. I’ll never forget the first time I got my homemade caramel at the exact right temperature to make shapes out of it. When I topped my homemade individual chocolate lava cakes with the caramel designs, I probably enjoyed the result of my labor more than the taste…Don’t ask how I cleaned the glistening globs of dried caramel in my pots and counters!
My boyfriend’s parents came to my house for a dinner a few weeks ago. I know they are not partial to rich desserts, and they love fruit. We had a ton of apples in the fridge, so the perfect choice was simple: French Apple Tart.
I kneaded the dough. I feel like I’m in another era when I use my hands this way, and I love it. With dough, it’s not just the recipe. Depending on temperature and level of humidity, you really have to feel through it. The texture should be elastic, soft, not very sticky, and easily malleable. Sometimes you may need a dash more or less of water, the same for flour. The more you make it, the easier it will be.
I chose a round pan, and decided to make a rose shape out of thin slices of apple. I had seen it done once on TV years ago.
There’s really nothing to it! You basically peel and core the apple, then cut it in half. Core-side down, slice the fruit lengthwise. Each time I finish with one apple, I start arranging it, slightly overlapping, in a circular patern around the pan. By the time you get into the center, you will be overlapping more tightly, and it will finish off the image of the rose exquisitely.
I think when the apple is a little soft (not too soft) it helps with shaping them this way.
Top the tart off with dots of butter and heavy sprinkles of sugar before you bake(it needs more sugar than you would think).
The traditional thing to do once its out of the oven is to brush warmed apricot jelly over the apples. Add some liquor to the jelly for more depth of flavor. Calvados is the obvious choice, but brandy works well too! Sprinkle some powdered sugar.
Sometimes I like to shave some clove for a different kick.
Try this, it is so satisfyingly elegant.
When serving, I got the wide-eyed reaction I always love to see. 🙂
Feel free to ask me any questions! Here is the recipe (adapted from Ina Garten)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup ice water
You will need either 8 small apples or 5 big ones for a 9inch tart.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar. Instead of sifting, a nice trick is just to use a whisk, and whisk all the ingredients. This provides the same result as sifting, and its much less trouble. Add the butter and pulse in a food processor 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. Pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/ 200C. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out a little larger than the pan you’re using. Place in the pan and refridgerate again. Then get the apples ready as I described above.
Once you form the apples oh-so-beautifully, dot the apples with butter and sprinkle a lot of sugar all over the apples.
Warm 1 cup apricot jam with 1/4 cup brandy or Calvados.
Bake for 25 minutes and then keep checking every 5 minutes until the apples are golden brown. You way want to turn the tart around every so often so the crust in the back of the oven doesn’t burn.
Once you take it out of the oven, brush the apples with the warmed jelly-liquor mixture.
Let me know how it turns out!