Monday, December 17, 2012

Apple Tart with Apricot Glaze

EZ dezzert in the hizzzooooouzzz. True story. So easy in fact that I got the recipe simply from a verbal exchange with one of my co-workers. She's always telling me that she's not a baker, but then she'll mention some tasty treat she whipped up for her family, so I'm not convinced. She said she makes this divine apple tart as follows: slice up apples and toss in sugar, spread out over a puff pastry, bake at 400, then brush with an apricot/water glaze. Bing, boom, bam. Gorge dessert done. Ooohs and aaahs to follow.
I questioned the simplicity of the whole thing, so I ran home and looked up thirty recipes to confirm that these instructions would result in legit dessert. Confirmed. There are lots of little tweaks in different recipes, but the main idea behind an apple tart remains the same. Spread some sugared apples out over puff pastry and beauty ensues. (Of the various tweaks, I chose to add an egg wash step because I like a shiny, sugary pastry crust.) Puff pastry is not for everything (one time I swapped wonton wrappers, which are super-duper thin, for puff pastry in an appetizer recipe - that was bone-headed and resulted in a big mess). But for many recipes, puff pastry is one of those secret weapons that makes it look like you got skills in the kitchen, when all you did was slice open a frozen package.

The flavor of this dessert is definitely on the rustic side. It's not rich or decadent. But the apples are packed tightly, so there's nothing flimsy about it. It's sweet and fresh, and leaves no want for satisfaction. It's a perfect choice for a holiday dessert that looks impressive, but won't take much time in the grocery store or the kitchen.

Apple Tart

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (standard packages are 17.3 oz. and contain 2 sheets)
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg (for egg wash)
sugar for sanding
3 tbs. apricot preserves
1 tbs. water

Let puff pastry thaw for 20 to 30 minutes. Unfold pastry onto a pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet (like silpat), trying to avoid cracks down the folds. If pastry cracks, just press back together with fingers. Using a fork, poke holes all over the puff pastry except for the outer 1 inch perimeter. 

While pastry thaws, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the apples and slice thinly. Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Toss apple slices thoroughly in sugar mixture. Leaving a one-inch perimeter around the puff pastry, line apple slices tightly together on the puff pastry. Edges of apples will overlap. Leave any excess liquid from apples in the bowl. 

Crack and whisk the egg, then brush the egg over the 1 inch perimeter of the pastry. Sprinkle pastry with sugar. 

Bake tart for 18-20 minutes or until crust is browned (use lower shelf in the oven). 

Once tart is finished baking, heat apricot preserves and water together over medium heat until a glaze forms (this will only take a couple minutes). Brush apricot glaze over tart while still warm. Display artfully for your adoring guests. 
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