Easy Apple Tart. (And Happy Birthday, baby!)

I’ve been meaning to make this ever since Ree posted it on PW Cooks! And then, lo and behold, TWD up and makes a Parisian Apple Tart…let. Tinier and fancier than Ree’s, but you know what? Who needs cute? I just want dessert – who cares if it’s cute? I’m not a TWD baker for that reason (and, well, I don’t own nor have the disposable cash to buy the book), and besides, I have a country girl-connection with Ree’s cooking. It speaks to me.

As with a great many of my escapades, I ended up making this out of necessity. I had an open box of puff pastry in the deep freeze, in danger of frostbite and infamous freezer burn; and I had four five Granny Smith apples sitting on the counter, threatening immediate rot and revolt if I didn’t go ahead and use them for their intended purpose. Kitchen mutiny! I shouldn’t say that. My kitchen is actually trying to help me stay honest and use up what I already have before I dance off to the grocery for newer, prettier items and ignore the unloved foodstuffs languishing on the counter and in the back of the fridge. Lucky for me that Granny Smiths are much hardier than their cousins Gala and Golden Delicious, or they would’ve ended up in the bin instead of on sheets of puff pastry.

I enlisted Cullen (that’s 354, for those of you that don’t know) to cut up apples. I’m left-handed, and while we’re purportedly rather creative beings, we generally suck at straight lines and vectors. That is to say, I can’t cut in a straight line to save my fingers, nor can I make very teeny tiny slivers of things as I would like without the use of a mandoline. Cullen, on the other hand, is right-handed and rather good in a manly, mechanical fashion, and therefore perfect for slicing up apples into something other than wedges or chunks. While he was slicing apples, I was unfolding puff pastry and slicing a sheet in half, spraying down baking sheets… you know, prep stuff. Oh, and playing on the Internet. Does that make me a horrible person, surfing the Internet while my erstwhile fiancè is painstakingly slicing apples on my behalf? I hope not, ’cause it’s going to happen again. Though maybe not with apples involved. Probably onions.

When he was finished, he called me back into the kitchen. Sweet baby had put them all in a water bath with lemon to keep them fresh. Being who I am, I hadn’t told him what I was going to do with the apples, just to slice them. (He does well with direct instruction. :) I love you, dear.) So I drained them off and mixed the brown sugar, lemon juice and teensy bit of salt. I might should have drained them better on paper towels to remove some of that excess moisture, but that seemed like such a waste. Besides, I was in a hurry. After I let them everything make friends for a little while, I came back and find my apple slices bathing in a dark, thick syrup of brown sugar and lemon juice. Oops. Too much moisture. Oh well – too late now! I arranged the apple slices semi-artfully on two halves of puff pastry and stuck them in the preheated oven to cook and puff away prettily.

Meanwhile, there was still quite a bit of sugared, syrupy apple left in that big ol’ metal mixing bowl. What to do, what to do? Obvious answer was to snack on sugared apple slices for a while, but let me tell you a secret: you can only eat so much, and it turns out in this case that “so much” ain’t a whole lot. So what to do? I was thinking I’d just make another tart. “Bake a pie!” Cullen says. Okay, I can do that. Except I’ve already cut out another sheet of pastry for the next set of tarts! “You can make a lattice crust out of it,” he says. I can go with that, despite the little voice in my head telling me that pie crust =/= puff pastry. So what, right? Live a little. When he returns from his aunt’s house with two pie crusts, he cocks his head to the side. “Won’t puff pastry puff too much to make a lattice crust?”

…Men. I swear.

To appease me, apparently, he nudges me back out of the kitchen. “Here, I’ll do it. I had a vision.” Okay, dear. His visions are usually pretty spot-on (most of the time) and I’m content at this point to sit down and watch an NCIS I’ve already seen about 1400 times. He muddles around and pops his creations in the oven. “What’d you make?” I ask. “It’s a surprise,” he replies. Not too much longer after that, my tarts and his surprises are out of the oven. Apple purses! Like the tarts, but round and fun-sized! I told you, his visions can be pretty spot-on.

We ate one a piece warm out of the oven, with vanilla icecream. What a good way to ruin your appetite before supper. (Psst. I actually ate two. But I deserved it. It had been a stressful day.)

So if you get the chance, or the urge, pull out some of that emergency puff pastry, slice up some apples, mix ’em up with some sugar and bake you up some apple tart. Just be sure to pat away any excess moisture (although the syrup does make a good glaze), and for the love of cake, don’t be like me – use a baking sheet with a lip on it.

Quick & Easy Apple Tart

by Ree Drummond/Pioneer Woman

1 sheet puffed pastry, cut into half OR thirds
3 to 4 apples, cored, halved, and sliced (but not peeled)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.

Place puffed pastry rectangles onto a baking pan that’s been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Add sugar and salt to apples. Stir to combine. Allow to sit for a few minutes.

Arrange apple slices on the pastry rectangles in a straight line, overlapping as you go.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Remove from pan immediately and place on a serving platter. Serve plain, with caramel topping, whipped cream, or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Feel like a pastry chef.

Repeat as needed.

You know you want to go home and make some right now.

Oh, p.s. I know I said I was going to post once a week, but I’m making an exception to this week because today is Cullen’s 25th birthday! He requested the Hershey’s chocolate cake with Swiss meringue buttercream that I’ve been teasing you with for weeks on end. I’m making him cupcakes tonight to bring for his shift (poor baby has to work on his birthday, isn’t that sad?), and then a layer cake for the family birthday celebration tomorrow afternoon. Pictures and post coming before week’s end!

Happy birthday, sweetheart! I love you!

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