tarty (pink) ladies

8 April 2010

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So this post is bound to get some interesting traffic ;). If you’ve come here for titillation, I’m afraid you might be disappointed – unless apple tarts do it for you of course (which is in fact highly possible and in which case you’re in for a treat). These ones are simply awesome. Not much actual cooking involved, more of an assembly-line jobby. I fully admit to using packet puff pastry and, on this occasion, packet frangipane mix (gasp!). Sometimes life is just too short. And whilst I’m not personally too keen on the Delia How to Cheat at Cooking route to sustenance, there are times when it’s much more important to spend time with the people you’re actually sharing the meal with and let the food preparation take a backseat.

I spotted a delightful punnet of pink lady apples blushing beautifully in a local shop and they seemed almost to speak to me of how they dreamed of being turned into something a little more chic. How could I not oblige? Plus I had brought said frangipane back from France and was keen to use it.

I do question whether pears would have made a better marriage with the almond-rich paste, but no matter, I am reliably informed that my combination worked just fine. Pink ladies were also ideal as they held their shape during cooking and didn’t turn to mush. Some bright spark who was watching me create these tarts suggested sprinkling a little cinnamon on the top – and of course, this did elevate them to the next level. Apricot glaze gave them a polished finish that had the faintest hint of something purchased in a pâtisserie (well I can dream…).

You could absolutely make them without the frangipane, but it does add an extra dimension. It’s very straightforward to whip up from scratch if you feel so inclined, so I have (feeling something of a fraud, since I didn’t) included a little how-to below, courtesy of culinary god Michel Roux.

cheat's version...

Pink Lady Tarts, or Apple Galettes with Frangipane

packet of ready-rolled puff pastry (mine was 375g)
packet of frangipane mix, or a batch of homemade – see below*
2 apples
a slice of lemon
pinch of ground cinnamon, optional
apricot glaze or apricot jam

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Make up your frangipane paste.

Unwrap the pastry and lay it out on a surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Cut around the edge of a saucer or a small bowl (mine had a diameter of 13cm) to make round disks of pastry. I managed to get five in total, although this did involve reassembling and then re-rolling the pastry after cutting out the first three. Transfer the disks to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Peel and core the apples and cut into thin, evenly sized slices. Put them in a bowl of cold water with the slice of lemon – this will stop them from browning.

Prick each of your pastry disks a few times with a fork, then, using a sharp knife, carefully score a circle about 0.5cm in from the edge, all the way around (be careful not to cut all the way through). Spread a couple of tablespoons of frangipane paste on each disk, keeping within the scored border. Dry off the apple slices and arrange in decorative spirals on top of the frangipane.

Sprinkle cinnamon over the top and put them in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are nicely browned and the pastry is puffed and golden (in hindsight, the edges of my pastry could have benefitted from being brushed with a little milk or beaten egg before cooking, but no matter). Remove the galettes a wire rack to cool.

Melt a few teaspoons of apricot glaze or jam in a small saucepan, then brush over the tops of the galettes.

Serve warm or cold with cream or good vanilla ice cream, feeling rather smug that such an impressive dessert is this easy to make.

*Frangipane, adapted from Pastry by Michel Roux

50g icing sugar
50g ground almonds
50g butter, at room temperature
10g plain flour, sifted
1 egg

Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds together and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the butter until creamy, then add the icing sugar and almond mixture, followed by the flour. When the mixture is evenly combined, whisk in the egg. You should have a smooth, light cream. Leave to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. Any unused frangipane will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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