These crisp and tasty apple tarts are a great way to use up your fall bounty; using frozen puff pastry makes the whole process a lot easier, and they’re finished with rosemary-lime sugar.
It happens every year in the Hudson Valley, where we live. As soon as the leaves on the maple trees turn a ridiculous shade of red, we, residents and tourists alike, don our coziest sweaters and follow the scent of hot cider doughnuts to the nearest orchard. Once there we wander the grounds, hopped up on cinnamon sugar and crisp autumn air, filling baskets and gunny sacks with more Empires, Cortlands and Jonagold apples than anyone who doesn’t work in a pie factory would ever need.
Only once when we’re home and realize we need to put an addition on the house in order to store our haul, do we admit that maybe we’ve bought just a few too many. And just when I thought we’d succeeded in using our bounty, one of Matt’s local clients sent him home with a massive box of Golden Delicious apples from the tree in her yard. Oh well, we’ll just have to start working on that Salted Caramel Apple Pie idea I’ve been thinking about. #HudsonValleyProblems #AppleHumbleBrag
These apple tarts, based on a classic recipe by Barefoot Contessa’s Ina Garten, are one of our favorite ways to use apples but the method works for just about any fruit. The same combination would be lovely with pears, or in summer, peaches. One of the things that makes it so easy (and delicious) is that it uses frozen puff pastry so you don’t even have to make dough. This is definitely something you could whip up the day of a party and either bake it ahead, or keep it assembled in the fridge and bake it half an hour before you plan to serve it.
While rosemary is usually thought of as a savory herb it actually pairs very well with sweet things. Initially I was going to use lemon zest, but I wanted to see what lime would be like and I’m so glad I did because it’s amazing. The lime is a little more perfume-y and flowery than lemon, and it plays off the same notes in the rosemary beautifully. Of course you could use lemon instead, if that’s what you have.
- Our favorite brand is the all-butter Dafour, but it’s pricy and can be a little hard to find. We hear good things about Trader Joe’s version but we almost always use Pepperidge Farm.
- Let the pastry thaw completely, overnight in the refrigerator is best, or for 45 minutes at room temperature, before using it.
- Puff pastry is easiest to work with when it’s cold but, more importantly, the colder it is, the puffier it will get in the oven so don’t be afraid to re-chill it as needed.
- Don’t roll it too thin, especially when making a tart because it needs to be strong enough to support the filling.
- If you have any pieces of puff pastry left over, combine them and roll them out to make cheese straws or cinnamon cookies.
Apple Tarts with Rosemary-Lime Sugar
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry cold but thawed (8.5 oz/ 240g)
- 2 granny smith or other tart apples, peeled, cored, halved and sliced thinly (about 1/16 inch)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar 95g
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves from about 1 medium sprig, plus more for garnish
- zest of 1 lime about 1 teaspoon
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes (30g)
- 2 tablespoons apricot jelly or jam optional, for glazing
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a sil-pat or parchment paper.
- Make the Rosemary-Lime Sugar: In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar, salt, lime zest and the rosemary leaves. With your fingertips, mix it all together, rubbing it gently until it’s combined and fragrant. Set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry and, using a rolling pin, gently roll it into a 15 x 12 inch rectangle. Cut it into 4 squares. Transfer to the lined baking sheet. With a sharp knife, using gentle pressure, score a border about 1-inch from the edges, but don’t cut all the way through the dough. Inside the rectangles, poke dough all over with a fork. (Dough should be as cold as possible when you bake it so refrigerate until the apples are ready).
- Layer the apple slices in two rows, overlapping them slightly, leaving the border edge bare. Sprinkle with the rosemary-lime sugar, then dot the surface with butter cubes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the edges of the apples start to brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.
- If you want the tarts to look shiny and glazed, add apricot jelly into a small dish and thin with 1 tablespoon hot water, then brush glaze lightly over the apples.