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Apple Tarts with Caramel Sauce

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I’ve been making these apple tarts for longer than I care to admit. If I had a “signature dessert” it would be these tarts. Crisp, buttery and flakey, they are my fail safe dessert that I can whip together at the last minute and know without a doubt that they will turn out fabulous. I don’t have to worry about the outcome- will it puff enough, be too sweet, apples too mushy/crunchy, etc… It’s become second nature to assemble these guys in a flash and proof that just a few high quality ingredients can be spun into something that not only looks amazing but will also dazzle your dinner party guests as well. Did I mention how easy it is to prepare? The best part is you can prep them hours in advance and simply pop them into the oven 20 minutes before they are to be served. Done and done.

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Apple Tarts:

serves 4 

1 sheet *frozen puff pastry, thawed (or fresh, rolled out to 1/4″ thickness)

1 round cutter or a small plate, 4″ diameter

1-2 honey crisp apples, peeled and cored (leave whole)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine the cinnamon and sugar, set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Using a round cutter or small plate, cut 4 circles from the puff pastry sheet and place onto a parchment lined sheetpan. Slice the apples thin, between 1/16- 1/8″ thick. Divide the apple slices equally and place on top of the puff pastry rounds leaving almost 1/4″ border on the edges. Brush the apples and edges of the pastry with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until edges become carmelized and golden. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve immediately.

*If using store bought frozen puff pastry, try to find the highest quality possible. Ideally, made with butter and not oil/shortening.

To make ahead, assemble everything except the sugar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refregerate until ready to bake.

*From My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature

1/2 cup heavy cream

pinch of sea salt

* The original recipe calls for salted butter and the optional addition of more salt to taste.

Spread the sugar in a large skillet or wide saucepan and pour the water over it. Heat the sugar over medium heat, swirling the pan very gently, just enough to moisten the sugar with the water.

Once the sugar is moistened and starting to cook, swirl the pan only if there are dry spots of sugar that aren’t melting. Continue to cook the sugar until it begins to darken. Watching carefully, gently swirl the pan, only if necessary, so it cooks evenly. (If the sugar begins to crystallize, continue cooking, stirring only if you see very dark burnt spots appearing, and the crystals should eventually smooth out).

When the caramel is a deep amber color and begins to smoke, remove the pan from the heat and drop in the cubes of butter. Stir with a whisk until butter is completely melted, the gradually whisk in the cream and stir until smooth. If the sauce seizes up, gently warm it over low heat and it will begin to smooth out.

Once the sauce is cool enough to taste, you may want to add additional salt and adjust to your liking. Sauce keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

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