Note to readers: For some reason or another I have kept this post on ice for weeks and weeks. I confess to being a terrible blogger who got so wrapped up in planning my Thanksgiving dinner that I forgot to actually publish things on my blog. I promise that Thanksgiving fun is coming soon!
The other night I was at my neighbors’ house and had a yummy idea. Beth, the mother of the four gorgeous children I often babysit (one must fund all the grocery shopping that this blog requires!), had made a simple apple tart that she’d seen on Smitten Kitchen (www.smittenkitchen.com). It was so simple and so delicious that I had four pieces. Talk about excessive. But apparently that wasn’t enough, because I headed to the store the next morning and, before I knew it, I’d added every ingredient to my cart. Granted, those ingredients only included frozen puff pastry and apples, but still, it was clear I had a craving.
In an attempt to not be a complete copy cat though, I wanted to add my own twist – and it came in the form of my homemade pumpkin butter. And I have to say, it was kind of an inspired idea. It was like the perfect apple pie, with an especially fall twist. Perfectly caramelized, perfectly baked crust, perfectly soft, squishy apples. Perfectly inhalable. In fact, while Hurricane Sandy (a.k.a. Superstorm a.k.a. Frankenstorm a.k.a. S’noreastercane) raged outside my windows, Andy and I ate the entire thing.
So here’s the recipe. Some of my recipes are kind of complicated and time consuming, but I promise that this one isn’t. And stay tuned below for quick Sweet and Spicy Toasted Pumpkin Seeds…
Pumpkin Caramel Apple Tart
4-5 medium apples
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon sugar (or if you have it, a cinnamon sugar grater)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream or half ‘n half
1/2 cup pumpkin butter (LINK)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle. Peel and core apples, then slice them in half from top to bottom. If you don’t have one of those nifty apple corer thingys (the ones I refuse to clutter my drawers with) then you can use a melon baller or even a metal teaspoon after you’ve cut them in half. Use a mandoline to slice them extremely thinly, or slice them with a knife as thinly as you can, into half moon shapes.
Sprinkle some flour onto your countertop and unfold thawed puff pastry sheet. Roll it out, maintaining the rectangular shape, until it fits a single sheet pan. Gently transfer to pan (I find dusting it with flour and folding it back into thirds works well) and trim if necessary. Using a fork, poke some holes all over the crust to allow air trapped underneath to escape as it bakes. Arrange apples in a pretty pattern, overlapping by at least 3/4 of the previous apple slice until you’ve covered the whole pastry sheet. Dot with 3 tablespoons of butter and dust with sugar (or cinnamon sugar), then bake for 15-20 minutes. If you sliced your apples by hand, then the baking time might be slightly longer due to the thickness of the apples.
Meanwhile, make your caramel/pumpkin butter mixture. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to a dray pan over medium heat. Stir fairly constantly until sugar melts (just about 3 minutes or so) and starts to turn copper colored. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of butter (the sugar will bubble vigorously, but keep stirring), and then remove from heat before you stir in the 2 tablespoons of cream. Whisk in the pumpkin butter and set aside.
Check on the tart in the oven. When the apples are soft and the sugar slightly caramelized, remove it from the oven and apply the warm caramel and pumpkin mixture to the top with a pastry brush or rubber spatula. Return to oven for another 3-5 minutes so that the sugars caramelize a bit more, then remove from the oven, lightly sprinkle with sea salt, and cool before serving. Enjoy!
Bonus Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
These seeds were a by-product of the pumpkin butter I made earlier (and used in the recipe above). Why waste them when you can eat them?
Fresh pumpkin seeds from pumpkins you are baking with or carving
In a bowl big enough to hold your seeds with room to stir, drizzle in some olive oil, dust with salt, top with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar (use less than you think you’d need to coat the seeds), then sprinkle with cayenne to taste – depending on how spicy you like them! Spread evenly on a greased baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 5-6 minutes, checking frequently as the sugar will burn if you leave it in there even a minute too long. Remove from the oven and cool before taking them to work and munching on them all day long!