Apple Tart with Vanilla Sauce and Caramel
This tour de force with apples includes apple crisp cups, apple sorbet, apple puree, and caramelized apples. The “gold dust,” apple crisps, and phyllo squares may be made up to a day ahead; the beurre blanc could be made an hour or so ahead and kept hot in an insulated vacuum bottle, and the apples could be caramelized at the same time and rewarmed just before serving. The assembly must take place at the last minute, however.
- Tart Pastry
- Puff Pastry - 1 lb, thawed
- Confectioner’s sugar - For dusting
- Apple Filling
- Golden Delicious Apples - 8
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup
- Pastry Cream (recipe follows) - 1/2 cup
- Caramel Sauce
- Sugar - 1-1/2 cup
- Water - 1/2 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons, softened
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Vanilla Extract - 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 cup Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 3/4 cup
To make the “gold dust”: Oil a baking sheet. Melt the sugar in a heavy pan over medium-high heat until the sugar turns a blonde color. Do not stir during this time; you may use a dampened brush to brush away any crystals which form. When the sugar has reached the blonde caramel stage (310 F on a candy thermometer), pour it out in a thin layer on the oiled baking sheet. Set aside to cool completely. When cooled, break it up and process to a fine powder in a food processor.
To make the apple crisps: Bring 3/4 cup of the simple syrup to a boil over medium heat. Peel one apple and very thinly slice it on a mandolin (leave the core in). Place the pieces in the boiling syrup, return the mixture to a boil, and take off the heat. Allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a baking sheet with silicone paper. Spread the apple slices in a single layer on the silicone paper and bake until they just begin to brown. Remove from the oven and place each apple slice in a small cup or mold to form into shallow cup shapes. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the phyllo: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Keep all phyllo sheets lightly covered with a dampened towel when not working with them to keep them from drying out. Place 1 sheet on a work surface and brush with clarified butter. Dust with a little confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon. Place another phyllo sheet on top of it and repeat. Repeat again with a third sheet. Set aside, covered. Repeat this process with the remaining three phyllo sheets. Place the phyllo stacks on the prepared baking sheet and dust them with the “gold dust.” Sprinkle one half of one sheet with the almonds. Bake 5 minutes, until caramelized. Remove and cut into 16 squares; four of these squares should have almonds on them. Let cool.
To prepare the apple puree: Peel the apples, keeping the peelings for the sorbet. Toss the peelings with lemon juice and set aside . Chop the apples and place in a pan with the cinnamon stick, butter, and sugar. Cook over medium heat until reduced to a pulp. Remove the cinnamon and puree in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and keep warm.
To prepare the beurre blanc: Heat the water and sugar in a heavy pan over medium-high heat until the sugar has melted. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pods into the sugar syrup. Cook until reduced by one third in volume. Strain the syrup through a fine-meshed sieve, then stir in the lemon juice and cream. One piece at a time, whisk in the butter until melted and incorporated. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the apple puree (above). Set aside and keep warm; a thermos-type bottle works well for this.
To make the sorbet: Peel the apples and cut them in half. Cut each half into three pieces and remove the core. Toss with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and set aside. Take all the apple trimmings from all the apples used in the recipe and puree in a blender. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve. Add the simple syrup and remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Place in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
To caramelize the apples: Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add the reserved apple slices. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss; once the sugar has melted, add the butter. Stir to blend as the butter melts. Cook until the apples are nearly soft. Avert your face, add the Calvados, and flame, shaking the pan until the flames subside. Set aside.
To assemble: Put the apple puree in a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Pipe a ring of puree in the center of each plate, about half the diameter of the plate (leave an equal space between the rim of the plate and the center). Put the vanilla crème anglaise in another pastry bag with a medium plain tip and pipe a ring of crème anglaise around the plates nearly at the rim. Make a pool of beurre blanc in the centers of the plates. Place one of the almond-covered phyllo squares in the center of each pool of beurre blanc. Place a few caramelized apples on each square. Top each with another square and place a few caramelized apples on them. Repeat. Place a final phyllo square on top of each stack. Position 3 apple crisp cups at 2 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 10 o’clock on each plate. Make small quenelles of the apple sorbet and place one in each apple crisp cup. Dot the beurre blanc with caramel sauce.