Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The apples are falling

I've been browsing food blogs, and it seems that everyone in the Northern hermisphere is baking now. I am not big on sweets, but I got the seasonal bug too. Cold nights, falling leaves, apple tarts...

My landlord, A., has a large apple tree of unknown variety that produces tons of small, sweet and very fragrant apples. He usually picks them sometime in the middle of October, and gives them away by a bucket. Most apples are not ready yet, but the ones that are fall to the ground, so A. let me pick as many as I needed for these apple tartlets. When the seasonal deluge of apples hits us, we'll be prepared, with pie and tart recipes, and clean glass jars for jams and jellies.
This recipe makes one large tart, or, as I had it this time, 6 3-inch and 2 4-inch tartlets. I don't have a food processor, so my manual process seems somewhat complex (it's not). If you do have a food processor, half of the work is taken care of.
Apple Almond Tartlets

For the dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 stick/8tsp/1/2cup cold unsalted butter
4 tsp ice water

For the almond cream:

1/2 cup almond meal
2 tsp sugar
2/3stick/5tsp unsalted butter at room temperature, sliced
1 egg
1 egg white

5 small apples, cored, thinly sliced, brushed with Fruit Fresh or lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown

For the glaze:

2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp cognac
2 tsp lemon juice

Chill a large bowl in the freezer. Put flour, 1/2 cup almond meal, sugar and salt in the bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks, add to the bowl. With your fingertips, work the mixture to the consistency of a fine crumb. Add 3 tsp of ice water, knead with your hands. If the dough doesn't come together, add water, a little at a time. If the dough gets wet and sticky, add a little flour.

Roll the dough into a ball, flatten with your hand, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a cookie sheet into the oven.

Make the almond cream:

Mix the almond meal, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the egg and egg white, whisk to smooth and creamy consistancy.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, let sit outside for a few minutes to soften, cut into pieces (in my case, 6 small and 2 medium), place each piece of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll out to about 1/8 in. thick. Remove the dough from the wrap and drape it loosely over the tartlette forms. Press in with a fork. This dough breaks very easily, but it's also easy to repare. pinch off pieces of the dough and press them on to close any holes, reinforse thin edges, etc.

Spread some almond cream on the bottom of each tartlette, fan out the apple slices and place on top (1/2 of a small apple for 3 inch tartelettes, whole apple for 4 inch tartellete).

Place the tartellettes in their forms on the hot baking sheet, bake for about 20 minute, or until the filling is set. Remove from the oven, let cool on a wire rack.

To make the glaze, mix the cognac, sugar, and lemon juice in a small pot. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Brush the glaze on the tarts. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

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