While I’m still trying to evade the constant reminders that summer is long gone, shield my eyes from the giant PSL signs at Starbucks and do my best to keep myself from drooling over the pumpkin pastries at our local bagel shop, the past few days have left my will a little bruised. I’m starting to cave and – much to my dismay – get on board with it all. I’m not sure what changed, but it all seems rather appropriate now. After all, in just two short weeks, we can legitimately say that fall has arrived.
That’s not to say I’m ready to break out the pumpkin within the confines of my own kitchen, but rather, slowly ease my way in, with a pumpkin bagel here, or a pumpkin spiced latte there. In my own kitchen, I’m starting with the real home opener to fall cooking – apples.
It’s quite disheartening that the apple doesn’t get as much love as other more in-your-face fall ingredients. (I’m talking about you pumpkin.) This time of year is when the apple shines. For me, fall musters up daydreams of casually walking through an apple orchard, with a cute outfit on and a slight chill in the air. I carry a giant wicker basket, packed to the brim with sweet, tart perfect looking apples and then immediately go home and bake a million apple pies for friends and family.
In all reality, I’ve never even been to an actual apple orchard, but year after year it’s something always on our fall bucket list, and always something that is inevitably left unaccomplished for one reason or another.
Kevin likes to give me flak for picking out the imperfect apples, you know the ones with bruises, or ones that don’t have that shiny luster to them, but as long as they’re firm, and not rotting, they’re still good to me. While those bruised and battered apples may not be ideal eating for most people straight off the tree, those have nots are the chosen ones in pies, tarts and galettes.
Every year I do some sort of variation on an apple pie, and this year is no different. While I’m certain an apple galette is something that’s been done time and time again, simple and classic is where I like to start.
I used a variation of my favorite pastry crust which is a mixture of both shortening and butter –butter for flavor and shortening for flakiness – and your usual other suspects of flour, salt and ice water. Like the imperfect apples, the free-forming galette shape has no need for perfection, thus preventing – at least in my kitchen – minimal emotional breakdowns in the pie-making process.
A simple filling of apple and brown sugar is elevated by brandy and brown butter that perfectly caramelize the thinly sliced apples, some edges even turning a deep dark, almost black color. I (try) to artfully arrange the apples on the pastry, and then turn the edges up to create that classic, rustic look those perfectly imperfect galettes have. A brush of egg wash and sprinkle of brown sugar and these babies are ready to be baked off.
Once the pies come out, I scoop a small bit of French vanilla ice onto the middle and drizzle each one with copious amounts of 3 minute caramel sauce. Flaked sea salt is a final (not required, but recommended) touch.
While I’d like to boast that the best part of these are the caramelized apples, flaky crust or sinful caramel sauce, it’s the fact that each galette is meant for only one person – meaning you don’t have to share….That is, unless you’re my husband and I insist I only want “one bite.”
These individual apple tarts have all the flavors of a caramel apple, plus brown butter!
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons shortening
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
- ½ cup cheddar cheese
- 7-10 tablespoon ice water
- 3 granny smith apples, peeled and cored
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup brandy
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large bowl, whisk flour and salt together. Add in butter and shortening, and using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until it resembles a course crumb, but there are still some pea sized pieces. Quickly stir in the grated cheddar cheese. Start with 5 tablespoons of ice water and using your fork, quickly mix into the dough. Add enough water to bring the dough together.
- Once the dough is shaggy, quickly knead it a few times to bring it completes together.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Once the dough has chilled, remove from plastic and put on to a cold, lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness.
- Cut dough into 5, 4-inch circles.
- While the dough is chilling, make the filling. In a large non-stick sauté pan, heat the butter over a medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to brown, swirl the pan. Once the butter becomes a deep brown and smells nutty, add all the apples, salt and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Cook in the butter for 2-3 minutes until the brown sugar has melted and the apples are slightly wilted and golden brown.
- Add the brandy, and cook another 1-2 minutes until the liquor has evaporated.
- Remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place apples artfully on the pastry dough, and curl up the edges of the dough.
- Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and cooked through.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream.