When the weather is crisp, my thoughts turn to puff pastry. Puff pastry, with its flaky, buttery layers is simply a disaster to work with in the hot summer months no matter how high you set the a/c. Plus - who wants to eat that much extra butter in August anyway? (Ok, I do, but I try to surpress the urge during bathing suit season).
But November is another thing entirely. In this week's Times column (read it here) I share my recipe for Butternut Squash and Mushroom Wellington, something I came up with to have one more way to satisfy my flaky, buttery craving.
But if what you covet is sweet rather than savory, have I got a puff pastry recipe for you. This comes from my new book In The Kitchen with A Good Appetite, it's a sublimely sticky apple tart with a palmier-like sugar crunch I adapted from the wonderful Bill Yosses (aka "The White House Pastry Chef," or as President Obama calls him, "The Crustmaster"). Make it with all-butter store bought puff pastry and you'll have an easy yet extraordinary treat that celebrates the season - the season of buttery delights, that is.
Individual French Honey-Apple Tarts
Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
1 (14-ounce) prepared puff pastry, defrosted if necessary
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 pounds mixed variety apples (about 3), peeled, cored and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet with parchment.
2. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pastry. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into four squares along the fold. Cut each square in half and roll into a rectangle, about 7- by 3-inches. Transfer the rectangles to the baking sheet.
3. In a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave, warm the honey. Prick the dough all over with a fork and brush each rectangle lightly with the honey. Layer the apple slices closely together on top of each rectangle in a row. Transfer the tray to the refrigerator to rest for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the confectioner’s sugar, butter, and vanilla bean seeds. Simmer until the sugar and butter are melted, whisking to combine.
5. Brush the top of each tart with a third of the sugar mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake, basting with the sugar mixture every 20 minutes, until the pastries are puffed and golden, about 60 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.