Honey Crisp Tarte Tatin

This autumn the honey crisp apples from Michigan have been particular delicious. With their distinctive refreshing crisp and juicy texture and the perfect balance of sweet and tart taste, they are one of our favorite treats of the season.

IMG_2357.JPGAfter enjoying biting many of them for breakfast and afternoon snack, I had to test them for a traditional French dessert: la tarte Tatin. They turned out to be a perfect match. Hoping you enjoy trying them in the recipe below.

IMG_2210.JPGIngredients:
1-1,3 Kg or 2-2.5 lbs organic honey crisp apples
100g or 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
60 g or 4 Tbsp unsalted European butter
1 sheet of Dufour puff pastry (found in the frozen section at Wholefoods)
Extra flour for dusting.

Preheat oven to 425F

IMG_2237.JPGStart by prepping the apples. Cut them in quarters, core them and peel them.

IMG_2240.JPGThen cut each quarter in half and set aside.

IMG_2212.JPGMeanwhile place the butter, cut in small pieces, in a heavy 10″ cast iron pan.

IMG_2215.JPGMelt the butter on medium heat.

IMG_2217.JPGAdd the sugar at once to the melted butter.

IMG_2219.JPGMix gently with a wooden spatula.

IMG_2235.JPGThe butter and sugar will start caramelizing. Lower the heat to medium-low.

IMG_2241.JPGContinue cooking until the caramel turns a nice hazelnut brown color.

IMG_2242.JPGCarefully place the apple slices, inner side up, on top of the caramel. Be sure to keep your fingertips well above the burning hot caramel.

IMG_2245.JPGContinue arranging the slices nicely until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.

IMG_2248.JPGThen fit the remaining slices on top, in between the bottom slices, inner side facing down.

IMG_2261.JPGKeep cooking about 20 minutes, until the apples soften gently and the caramel bubbles through the apples. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

IMG_2266.JPGRemove the frozen puff pastry from the refrigerator (I defrost it overnight in the refrigerator)

IMG_2267.JPGPlace it on a flour dusted surface.

IMG_2269.JPGUnfold gently and discard paper, while dusting with flour to prevent stickiness.

IMG_2272.JPGUsing light strokes, brush off the excess flour.

IMG_2273.JPGRoll out the dough into a larger rectangle.

IMG_2274.JPGPlace a 10″-plate in the center to use as a pattern and cut around.

IMG_2275.JPGUsing a knife, cut 1 to 2 cm around the plate.

IMG_2279.JPGRoll the dough onto the rolling pin. Use a pastry scraper if the dough sticks to the surface.

IMG_2282.JPGRoll it out over the apples onto the pan. If the pan is too hot, set it aside until it is cool enough to handle.

IMG_2284-0.JPGThe puff pastry will overhang over the sides of the pan.

IMG_2288.JPGTuck in the dough between the apples and the sides of the pan by lifting it with one hand on one side….

IMG_2290.JPG…and tucking it with the other hand.

IMG_2293.JPGContinue all the way around until the apples are completely covered. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

IMG_2303.JPGWhen the top is golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool about 10 minutes.

IMG_2311.JPGPull a serving dish slightly larger than the 10″ pan.

IMG_2314.JPGPlace the pan on top of a folded kitchen towel so that both ends of the towel overextend on either side of the pan.

IMG_2315.JPGReverse the serving dish so it fits on top of the pan.

IMG_2317.JPGHold the towel around firmly with both hands.

IMG_2319.JPGWith a firm and rapid movement, flip the pan on top and the serving dish on bottom.

IMG_2326.JPGLift the pan away from the serving dish. Some of the apple pieces will have fallen out of place.

IMG_2338.JPGJust set them back where they belong. You can enjoy with ice cream, crème fraiche or whipped cream with a extra drizzle of salted caramel sauce (posted January 11 2014).

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Salted Caramel Sauce

In rare occasions, indulging in the sweetness of the moment calls for a treat savored delicately. Salted caramel sauce provides that rarified quality, reserved for a special moment, allowing you to truly savor every bite and relish your taste buds.
20140105-035527.jpgSalted caramel sauce can be enjoyed over poached or baked fruits, a tart or pie, ice-cream, or simply drizzled over Chantilly cream.
Making it is very easy, and it keeps for quite a while refrigerated.
20140105-040732.jpg
The essential ingredient is fresh French butter, which tastes smooth and rich.

Ingredients for 1-12 oz jar:
(Multiply the recipe for more jars)

6 oz. sugar
1 Tbsp. water
4 oz. French butter
1/8 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Useful tool: wide mouth canning funnel (see photo at bottom of recipe)
20140105-040848.jpgPrepare the jar(s) and utensils in advance of starting to cook the caramel sauce, as you’ll need to pour it into the jar(s) as soon as it is ready.
20140105-041034.jpgBegin by placing the sugar, butter cut into small pieces and sea salt into a saucepan with a heavy bottom or copper pan for even melting.

Add the water to moisten the sugar.
20140105-041139.jpgLet melt on medium heat, mixing with a wooden spoon occasionally.
20140105-041400.jpgThe mixture will foam and rise and might slightly crystalize.
20140105-041528.jpgContinue cooking mixing with a wooden spoon as it starts to caramelize.
20140105-041620.jpgWhen the caramel falls back down and turns a beautiful brown color, turn off the heat.
20140105-041823.jpgAdd the cold cream at once.  Watch out for splatters. The caramel will harden. Continue mixing rapidly.
20140105-041922.jpgPlace back on the stove, on medium heat.
20140105-042035.jpgBring back to a boil and turn off the heat as the caramel mixture rises again.
20140110-191143.jpg
Using a wide mouth canning funnel, poor the hot caramel sauce in the jar(s).
20140105-042155.jpgBe sure to pour the caramel almost to the top as it will shrink while cooling.  Let cool till warm to serve.

Let cool completely to refrigerate. Enjoy!

Hazelnut Praline Flan for Leslie

Flan was a regular staple at the end of a meal in my family. It is easy to make in advance and keeps well refrigerated and much lighter than a crème brûlée. My mother used cubes of sugar to make caramel, and knowing exactly how many sugar cubes to use to make caramel made it fast and easy. Here I’m using almond milk as a way to make this recipe lactose free, but feel free to use other milk if you do not have lactose intolerance in your family.

20130902-003153.jpgFor this recipe I decided to add hazelnut praline because a dear friend of my boyfriend loves hazelnut desserts and I made this one in Leslie’s honor. It takes a few extra steps to make the praline, and it is well worth it.

20130902-003514.jpgIngredients:
For the flan:
3 farm fresh eggs
2 cups organic almond milk
4 Tbsp organic sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the hazelnut praline:
1 Tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 cup hazelnuts (shelled and preferably skin removed)
3/4 cup organic sugar
3 Tbsp water

For the caramel:
1/2 cup organic sugar
2 Tbsp water

Sugar thermometer
4-6 individual ramequins or terrines with lids (depending on size)
Large baking dish for the water bath
Preheat oven to 375F

20130902-003639.jpgIf the hazelnut still have skins, place them in the oven on a baking sheet in a single layer for a few minutes.

20130902-004109.jpgTake them out of the oven before they brown and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Once cooled, rub them between your hands to remove the skins.

20130902-065923.jpg Making the hazelnut praline:
Brush a thin layer of oil on a marble surface or a baking sheet.
Place sugar and water in small sauce pan.

20130902-070309.jpgMelt sugar into caramel until temperature reaches 130 C (266 F).

20130902-070536.jpgAdd the whole hazelnuts. Continue cooking.

20130902-070626.jpgThe sugar will initially react to the hazelnuts by crystallizing. Keep cooking, mixing vigorously using a wooden spoon.

20130902-070711.jpgOnce the caramel is dark brown, remove the pan from the heat. Be sure not to over cook the caramel, otherwise it will burn and you’ll have to start over.

20130902-070754.jpgPour it immediately onto the oiled marble or baking sheet, spreading the hazelnuts so they do not overlap.

20130902-070939.jpgOnce cooled and hardened, break it up by hitting it with a rolling pin.
Place the broken pieces into a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

20130902-071044.jpgProcess until you obtain a granular powder. Set the praline aside.

20130902-071125.jpgFor the caramel, place the sugar and water in a small pan and cook until dark brown.

20130902-071207.jpgRemove from the heat and pour into the ramequins.

20130902-071244.jpgImmediately sprinkle a layer of praline powder so it sticks to the caramel.

20130902-071343.jpgPour the almond milk into a pan and heat until boiling.

20130902-071541.jpgMeanwhile, place three eggs into a mixing bowl.

20130902-071621.jpgAdd the vanilla and whisk the eggs until completely blended.

20130902-071735.jpgAdd the sugar while whisking vigorously until the mixture is pale yellow and foamy, and has doubled in volume. Note: please keep whisking while adding sugar to the eggs otherwise the sugar will “cook” the eggs.

20130902-071902.jpgAdd the hot milk into the egg mixture continuing to whisk until fully incorporated.
Note: it is important that you pour the hot milk into the bowl with the eggs and not the other way around. If you added the egg mixture into the hot milk, it would cook the eggs.

20130902-071941.jpgUsing a ladle, pour the mixture equally into each ramequin. Feel free to fill them up as much as you wish. These will not rise during baking, and rather sink once cooled.

20130902-072031.jpgPlace the ramequins into a baking dish with a water bath.
Place in the oven for about 40 minutes until the top is brown and feels settled.

20130902-072342.jpgOnce cooked, take out of the oven and let cool. Then place the lids on top of each ramequin and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

20130902-072426.jpgWhen ready to serve, run the blade of a knife around the flan.

20130902-072942.jpgPlace a plate on top and reverse it upside down, shaking a bit to ensure the flan detaches from the ramequin onto the serving plate.

20130902-073017.jpgSprinkle additional praline powder and decorate with a few extra hazelnuts. Enjoy!