There’s nothing like a freshly picked Pink Lady from the Union Square Farmers’ Market, unless it’s a McIntosh you’ve picked yourself from an upstate apple orchard. I went home to Buffalo a few weeks back and returned to my favorite childhood farmto pick apples and pumpkins. The fields were polka-dotted orange with future jack-o-lanterns, while the orchards were bursting with trees, boughs heavy with several varieties of Manhattan’s signature fruit. Adam and Eve would be hard pressed to disagree, the scene looked like heaven on earth.
Back at Mamma’s, we made applesauce, caramel-candied apples and pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin puree. I toasted my signature Naughty & Nice Pumpkin Seeds for snacking on the plane, and headed back to NYC with five pounds of apples in tow. The Dinner Belle threw a big bash for Macy’s that week, and I’d planned to impress our clients with apple tartlets a la mode made from “chef-picked” Macs. Our guests were not disappointed. The tartlets were a huge hit, and topped with Mario Batali’s salted caramel gelato, there weren’t any leftover for our staff meal.
Individually-portioned apple tarts showcase autumn’s favorite fruit.Topped with brown butter crumble and salted caramel ice cream, then drizzled with a caramel dipping sauce and dark chocolate ganache, these tartlets are a perfectly balanced dessert for those, like me, who crave salt in their dolce.
DOUGH: recipe in My Recipes
•3 cups McIntosh Apples (about 6, skinned and chopped small)
•1 Lemon (squeeze over chopped apples to prevent browning)
•2 cups Sugar
•6 TB Flour
•2 cups Sour Cream
•2 Eggs (beaten)
•1 t Vanilla
•1 pinch Salt
For the tart dough, follow my recipe for Pâte Brisée and add a pinch or two of sugar to the mix. You’ll be rolling out the dough and cutting tart shell bottoms to fit the size of your individually-portioned ramekins. I made eight tartlets from one batch of pâte brisée and used 2 ½ inch terra-cotta ramekins, but any small vessel for baking will do. Don’t forget to butter your ramekins to prevent the dough from sticking!
To make the filling, first mix the sugar and flour. Then add the sour cream, beaten eggs, vanilla and salt to the batter. Finally, fold in the apples and mix gently. Pour filling into unbaked tart shells, cover the edges with aluminum foil, and bake at 400 degrees until golden, approximately 40 minutes.
While the tartlets are baking, mix all the ingredients together for the topping, and cut into it with knives or use your hands to crumble. Taste for seasoning and then refrigerate to prevent melting.
Remove the tartlets from the oven once golden, and peel away all the aluminum foil. Sprinkle the tarts with the cinnamon-sugar crumble and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the crumble has begun to melt and the edges of the tarts have just begun to color.
Remove from oven and serve hot. These tartlets can be enjoyed ungarnished, but I went all out and loaded ‘em up with a scoop of Mario’s salted caramel gelato from Otto, a drizzle of salty caramel sauce, and a second drizzle of dark chocolate ganache. Finished with all the drizzle drama, they are standing ovation worthy, (I should know, Macy’s stood and applauded)!