I know what you're thinking, and no, it's not that kind of drunken tart! The kind of tart I'm talking about consists of thinly sliced apples soused in a Chambord-laced caramel sauce, sitting atop flaky puff pastry and finished off with a dollop of Chambord whipped cream. Nonetheless, while it may look sweet and innocent, this is one naughty little tart.
Drunken Apples was this month's theme for Sugar High Friday hosted by Andrew at Spitoon Extra. Seeing as this is my first entry for SHF, I couldn't have been more pleased with such a versatile theme as Apples and Alcohol. As we settle into fall and the last of the peaches and plums slowly disappear from the market, an abundance of apples happily take their place. Granny Smith, Gala, Golden Delicious, Fuji and Red Delicious - to name but a few - adorn the aisles, glistening and tempting you to turn them into a myriad of delicacies.
For this challenge, I turned to my liquor cabinet, fruit bowl and trusty dog-eared Gourmet Magazines for inspiration. I came across a Rustic Apple Tart with Calvados Whipped Cream in the September 2006 issue that looked beautifully understated yet delicious. It just so happened that the Gala apples it called for were awaiting comfortably in my fruit bowl. Calvados is not a staple in my liquor cabinet, so I reached for something that we often use in cocktails but with which I had not yet cooked - Chambord Liqueur Royale de France. Chambord is a liqueur that is made in the Loire valley in France, dating back to 1685. Made with raspberries, blackberries, Madagascar vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey and cognac; it's velvety rich taste lends itself to countless cocktails, desserts and savoury dishes. The freeform rustic pastry held the most delicate of thinly sliced apples enrobed in a perfectly sweet caramel sauce. The hint of Chambord rounded out the flavours adding a deeper, sultry undertone. Served warm and topped off with a dollop of Chambord whipped cream, this is a heavenly end to any fall meal. The apples wilt but retain their shape and slightly crisp texture. The flaky and buttery puff pastry is the perfect vehicle with which to mop up the caramel and cream.
Rustic Apple Tart with Chambord Whipped Cream - adapted from Gourmet Magazine, September 2006
- 1/3 cup plus 1/2 tbs sugar
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 lb small Gala apples (about 4; left unpeeled)
- 1 frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-oz package), thawed
- 3 tbs unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon Chambord
For Chambord whipped cream:
- 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp Chambord
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Cook 1/3 cup sugar in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted into a pale golden caramel. Tilt skillet and carefully pour in apple juice and vinegar (caramel will harden and steam vigorously). Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel is dissolved.
While syrup simmers, cut apples into 1/8-inch-thick slices with slicer, rotating around core of each, discard cores (I sliced the apples thinly with a chefs knife as I don't have a mandoline). Add apple slices to hot syrup in skillet, gently tossing to coat. Remove from heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until apples are wilted by syrup, 5 to 10 minutes.
While apples stand, roll out puff pastry sheet into a 12-inch square on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Cut into quarters, forming 4 (6-inch) squares and brush off excess flour from both sides.Transfer squares to a baking sheet. Take the apples, allowing the excess syrup to drip off them, and then mound slices decoratively on each square, leaving a 3/4-inch border all around. Fold border over apples along edges, pinching edges together as necessary, then dot tops of apples with a total of 1 tablespoon butter and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar.Bake tarts until apples are tender, pastry is puffed, and edges and undersides are golden brown, about 25 minutes.
While tarts bake, boil reserved syrup in skillet with Chambord and remaining 2 tablespoons butter until thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup. Drizzle hot syrup over tarts.
Make cream: Beat cream with sugar in a chilled bowl with a whisk or electric mixer until cream holds soft peaks. Fold in the Chambord and serve with tarts.