Tarts & more tarts

:: Apple tartlets ::Asparagus, Bak Kwa & gruyere tartlets

Nowadays, there will always be a ready supply of pate sucree dough in my refrigerator because depending on my schedule, I will bake some sorta tartlets for tea, breakfast, whatever.

Mom just came back from her overseas trip and I thought I should bake apple tartlets for her as she is a real fan of it and therefore a good person to turn to if you want honest feedback. I would love to make these for her but knowing that it is difficult to make puff pastry in this kind of heat, I aborted the idea. Knowing her palate, she prefers less sweet stuff and that would mean adjusting the amount of sugar in most recipes.

The first recipe that I wanted to test is from Caramelised Apple Tartlets from Meringue. It’s as simple as coating the apples in caramel syrup and topping each tartlet with french meringue after the tartlets are baked for 20 minutes. Thereafter, the tartlets are popped back into the oven for another 15 minutes so that the meringue is baked till light brown.

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Since I didn’t have enough apples that day, the portion of the fruit in each tartlet was insufficient to satisfy my mom. Reduce the sugar a bit more, she said and it would be good. For me, I didn’t like how the meringue turned out and decided that I should try another recipe, this time being one from Beyond the Plate because I was mesmerised by the photos. Heh.

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I was pleasantly pleased with this one, having reduced the portion of sugar from 100g to 60g and mom and Ken gave positive feedback. Since I still had a good amount of egg and whipping cream mixture left, I went on to bake the savoury asparagus, Bak Kwa (compliments of mom) and gruyere tartlets. I had my fill and was totally stoked. Oh, the many different tartlets one can bake.

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Which will be next on the list, I wonder?

Apple Tartlets filling (adapted from Beyond the Plate)
To make four 4-inch tartlets
2 medium apples, halved, cored and thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
60 grams granulated sugar plus a pinch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon corn starch
3 large eggs
200ml heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C and grease the pan to be used.

Combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch and vanilla sugar or vanilla extract in a bowl, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Add the whipping cream and whisk until the mixture is a pale yellow. Set aside.

Layer the apple slices in a fashion that suits your fancy until it reaches the top of the mold. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar and the cinnamon over the apples, then pour the egg/whipping cream mixture into the pan.

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Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. The tart is ready when its surface has caramelized and turns a golden brown. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. The tart is best eaten on the day it’s made.

For the asparagus, Bak Kwa and gruyere tartlets, all you need are stalks of asparagus, depending on how many tartlets you have and then the amount of Bak Kwa you want to put in each tartlet before topping the shell with gruyere cheese. Lastly pour the eggs and whipping cream mixture near to the brim of each tartlet before baking in the oven. I’ll do up a proper recipe the next time.

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Caramelised apple filling (adapted from Meringue)
For four 4-inch tarlets
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tsp sugar
4 – 5 apples, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tsp flour

Meringue
2 large egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/3 cup caster sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar and stir until it is cimpletely melted and turns into a bubbly, thick caramel brown syrup. Don’t burn it. Add the apples and stir occasionally to coat the apples with the caramel syrup. Cook for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Preheat oven to 200C.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining sugar and flour and sprinkle a thin layer over the bottom of each of the tartlet shell (this will keep them crisp). Fill the shells with caramelised apples, dividing them even between the 4 tartlet shells. Bake for 20 minutes. About 10 minutes before they are finished baking, begain making meringue. Remove from over after 20 minutes, leaving heat on, but lowering temperature to 190C.

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In the bowl of an electric standmixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and increase speed to medium-high, beating until soft peaks form. Add sugar, about a tbsp at a time, and continue beating on high until meringue has stiff, glossy peaks.

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Top the meringue in moulds all the way around the outer edge of each tartlet where the filling meets the crust. This is to form a seal at the edge so that the meringue doesn’t pull away from the crust when baking. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes on a ware rack before serving.

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