Recently I scaled things down and added a few quirks of rosemary and salt. It works really well. The rosemary adds an earthy, fragrant layer sitting over the succulent apple. The salt's the real star though. Caramel and salt naturally pair well anyway. Salt, as a natural flavour enhancer, brings out the sweetness and slight bitterness of the caramel and binds the whole dish together. In addition, I think there are very few things in life more beautiful than tiny, exquisite little flakes of sea salt (obviously, Maldon), perched on top of something tasty.
These make great individual desserts or canapes for a party.
Equipment: a muffin/ cupcake metal baking tray
1 350g pack of all butter puff pastry, rolled out to about 3mm thickness and cut into circles the size of your cupcake tin holes. An easy way to do this is to make a cardboard circle cut out the same size, then use it as a stencil on the pastry, cutting pastry circles out with a knife.
3 Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and cut into six
200g white granulated sugar
1 sprig of rosemary
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out (and kept!) and pod
Maldon sea salt
1. Preheat an oven to 180C.
2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy based frying pan and leave over medium heat without stirring until the sugar has dissolved in the water and it’s bubbling away. Continue over medium high heat until the mixture thickens into a syrup and then begins turning a deep golden, caramel colour. When it’s turned, stir in the butter and season with a healthy pinch of Maldon sea salt.
3. Lay the apple slices, vanilla (seeds and pod) and the rosemary in the caramel and cook on both sides for around 3-4 minutes, until cooked through, but still firm. Let cool for a couple of minutes so that the caramel isn’t burning hot to handle and remove the rosemary and vanilla.
4. Place your apple slices in the bottom of the cupcake tin slots, probably around two per slot depending on the size. Spoon in some sauce in each.
5. Lay your pastry circles over the apple, and try to tuck the edges down the sides and under the apple a little bit, so that it bakes hugging the apple (see the photos below).
6. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Remove and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. While the tartes are still warm (otherwise they’ll fuse to the tin), flip them out carefully with a spoon. Serve warm.