Caramel apple and almond tart

Caramel apple and almond tart

As soon as I saw this tart posted over on Apple & Spice, I knew it had to be baked.

How could apples, caramel and frangipane ever be a bad combination?!

As I suspected, the three made very happy companions in their sweet pastry case; so much so that the pony devoured the tart at record speed and I barely got a look in.

The tiny sliver of this I did manage to steal wasn’t anywhere near enough,  and I will definitely have to make it again in the near future so I can have a proper slice.

I changed Katie’s pasty recipe to my usual sweet shortcrust as I didn’t need it to be gluten free, but if you are on a GF diet I would definitely give hers a go. I also left out the peanut brittle, just because I didn’t have any, but to be honest I think the tart is special enough without.

Served warm it’s definitely more of a winter dessert, but I think it would also work well cold as we finally move into spring – either way it’s a winner!

Caramel apple and almond tart (adapted from Apple & Spice)

For the pastry:

  • 125g plain flour
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 65g butter

For the filling:

  • 150g tinned caramel (about half a tin of Carnation)
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • 55g butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 10g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

To make the pastry, rub together the butter and flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add cold water a teaspoonful at a time, cutting through the mixture with a knife, adding more water until it starts to clump together. Use your hands to squash the dough into a ball, then chill in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a fluted flan dish – I think mine is about 10″ which makes quite a shallow tart.

Chill the pastry for another half hour, then blind bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, or until golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes, then spread the caramel in an even layer all over the bottom.

For the filling, beat together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and almond extract. Fold in the almonds and flour, then spread this on top of the caramel. Peel, core and slice the apples, then arrange in a fanned out pattern on top of the tart. Katie’s top tip is to keep the apples in a bowl of iced water with a drop of lemon juice in to stop them going brown while you’re chopping the rest – it works well!

Sprinkle the tablespoon of caster sugar over the top of the tart, then bake at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes – check it’s done by poking a knife into one of the apple slices, if it’s cooked it will slide through with no resistance. Serve warm or cold, up to you!

Raspberry and white chocolate tarts

These tarts aren’t at all what I was planning on baking at the weekend.

I wanted to make a blueberry buckle, but everywhere I went the price of blueberries was extortionate – I thought being in season made things cheaper?! As the recipe called for 4 or 5 packs, that plan swiftly went out the window.

Raspberries on the other hand were only £1.25 per punnet, so I bought some of those instead and decided to use up the last of my raspberry curd in these little tarts.

White chocolate is a classic partner for raspberry, and I had a spare 100g cream cheese from another recipe (to be posted soon) so that sorted out the other layer of the tarts – and in the end I think everything came together rather nicely!

I think some of the best things I’ve made have come about from using what I have to hand rather than following a recipe, and these are a great example of that – although the buckle is still on my to-bake list, just as soon as I spy a blueberry bargain…

Raspberry and white chocolate tarts

Makes 4 individual tarts

  • 50g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 8 tbsp raspberry curd
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 65g white chocolate
  • icing sugar to taste
  • 150g raspberries

To make the pastry, sieve together the flour and sugar, then rub in the butter until the mixture forms a fine breadcrumb-like texture. Add in a tiny bit of water and cut through the mixture with a butter knife – it should start to come together into a dough, but if you have any dry crumbs around the edges of the bowl add a little more water. Knead the dough briefly, then chill for half an hour.

Once chilled, divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll each out into a circle about 12cm round. Lay the pastry into 10cm round tart tins, prick the bottom with a fork and return to the fridge for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to bake the tarts, line with baking paper and baking beans (or dry rice/pasta) and blind bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until crisp and just starting to go golden. Unfortunately I got distracted taking photos of something else so mine are a little browner on the edges than I would have liked…

Melt 15g of the white chocolate and use to brush the bases of the tarts. This will help stop the curd making the pastry go soggy. When the chocolate has set, spread 2 tbsp raspberry curd into the bottom of each, and chill in the fridge while you make the white chocolate layer.

Melt the remaining 50g white chocolate then beat into the cream cheese until well mixed. You can add an extra pinch of icing sugar at this point if you want, depending on how sweet you want the tarts to be. As the raspberry curd was quite runny, I piped the white chocolate mix on top, starting around the edge and working my way in so it wouldn’t sink and mess up the layers.

Finally, add the fresh raspberries on top of the tarts – then eat!

Chocolate, pear and almond crostata

This weekend, my next door neighbour had an Italian-themed dinner party for her birthday.

When I say dinner, what I actually mean is feast – I don’t think I’ve ever seen such food, or had a meal that went on for so long! There was olives, breadsticks, dips and salad, followed by a selection of breads, then two types of amazing pasta with courgettes, tomatoes and more salad and bread, then an amazing tiramisu, raspberries and strawberries, and finally a huge cheeseboard with crackers, apples and grapes – just reading back through the list makes me feel full again!

Everyone was asked to bring something, and I obviously volunteered a dessert to go with the tiramisu.

I scoured some Italian cookbooks at the library for an authentic recipe, and settles on a ‘crostata di pere a cioccolato’ from Italy – Sea to Sky by Ursula Ferrigno (which is a really gorgeous book for both savoury and sweet recipes).

It looked and sounded absolutely beautiful as it was, but it included a layer of marmalade in the bottom, which as my neighbour is allergic to oranges I decided to swap for a layer of almond paste, as I thought chocolate-pear-almond would be a good combination.

The resulting tart was exactly how I wanted it to be – rich enough that you only need a small slice, crisp pastry, subtle almond, super chocolatey, and a nice fruity contrast from the pears. It also smelt amazing when it came out of the oven, and it seemed to go down well with the other guests which is always a good sign!

I’m entering this to the May We Should Cocoa challenge, which this month was set by Laura of How To Cook Good Food, who chose almonds – a classic, delicious partner for chocolate.

Chocolate, pear and almond crostata (recipe adapted from Italy – Sea to Sky by Ursula Ferrigno)

Serves 12

For the pastry

  • 55g butter
  • 115g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg

For the filling

  • 4 small pears, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 3/4 cup almond paste (I used a recipe from Technicolor Kitchen)
  • 115g dark chocolate
  • 55g butter
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 115g caster sugar

To make the pastry, rub together the butter and flour with your fingers until the mixture forms a breadcrumb texture. Sift in the cocoa and sugar, mix in, then add the egg a little at a time until the mixture binds together and can be kneaded into a dough. Wrap the ball of dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Grease and flour a 10″ fluted flan tin, then roll out the dough thinly and use to line the tin. Press down into the sides, then use a rolling pin to roll over the top to evenly trim the sides of the pastry. Put back in the fridge while you prepare the almond paste, pears and filling.

Spread a thin layer of almond paste all over the base, taking care to not to rip the pastry. Arrange the quartered pears on top in a ring.

To make the filling, melt the chocolate and butter together over a low heat and set aside. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, then fold in the eggs whites – add a third of the whites first to loosen the mix, then fold in the rest.

Spread over the pears and the tart base, then bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes, until firm to the touch. Leave for 10 minutes to cool before removing from the tin, dust with a little icing sugar, then either serve hot or leave to cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Apple and blackberry frangipane tart

This is my entry for Kate’s Autumnal Baking Challenge – an amazing idea as I think autumn may be my favourite season for baking!

I’ve made quite a few things recently that probably could have been entered for the challenge, but I wanted to make something especially with autumn in mind, and I’m glad I did as this was delicious!

I adapted a recipe from Delicious magazine for an apple frangipane tart, used Mary Berry’s sweet pastry recipe, and added in blackberries for extra autumnalness (yes, that is a word).

The blackberries were all picked within 3 minutes of my house and the apples came from my bosses tree, which in my mind makes this extra tasty!

Can’t wait to see the round up of everyone else’s Autumnal Baking!

Apple and blackberry frangipane tart:

For the pastry:

  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1tbsp water

Chop the butter into small chunks and blend in a food processor with the flour and sugar until it has a breadcrumb texture. Add in the egg yolk and water and blend again, until it just comes together as a ball. Chill for about half an hour, then roll out to line a 10″ flan tin, and chill again for 10 minutes. Blind bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then return to the oven for a couple more minutes until golden.

For the filling:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 3-4 small apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 100g(ish) blackberries

While the pastry is baking, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the ground almonds and flour. Once the pastry case is done, pour the almond mixture in and spread level. Arrange the fruit in a pretty pattern (you probably don’t need to spend quite as long doing this as I did), then return to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Heat 2tbsp apricot jam, then brush this over the tart and return to the oven for a final 10 minutes of baking. This amount of baking will make the top of the crust go quite brown, but the filling should be golden and shiny. Serve warm or cold.

Banoffee pie tarts

These banoffee pie tarts were a last minute addition to my barbecue cake line up, when I realised I would have double the amount of pastry I needed for the mini white chocolate and strawberry tarts.

I thought about what would go well with the pecans in the pastry, and although I’ve never tried it before decided that pecan, banana and caramel was bound to be a winner.

I totally made this the cheat way with a tin of caramel, but when you’ve got 5 sets of cakes to make in a day speed is important!

If these were any bigger I think they’d be a bit too sweet for my tastes, but in such little bite size portions they were just right!

Banoffee pie tarts (makes about 15):

  • 1/2 quantity of pecan shortcrust pastry, recipe here
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 400g tin caramel (or dulce de leche if you want better quality!)
  • 300ml double cream
Once the pastry is baked and cooled, add a heaped teaspoon of caramel into each case. Chop one of the bananas and place the pieces on top of the caramel. Lightly whip the cream then spoon a dollop onto the top of each tart, then top with another slice of banana. Ridiculously easy!

Mini white chocolate and strawberry tarts

This is part 1 of my round up of cakes I made for our neighbourhood barbecue.

These little tarts are inspired by a Waitrose recipe for a large white chocolate and strawberry tart, which I’ve been making for years and has never let me down.

I decided to use a different pastry recipe, just to try something different, so I went with one that BBC Good Food also paired with white chocolate and strawberries (although I switched the hazelnuts for pecans as I had some spare pecans in the cupboard).

The end result was great, a really thin, crisp pastry, with a soft creamy white chocolate filling and delicious strawberries on top. I think they looked really pretty, and everyone seemed to like them, although the pony said they weren’t quite sweet enough for his tastes.

The quantities for the pastry below are actually double what you need, but I used half to make the banoffee pie tarts which I will post about soon. You could either double the filling or freeze half the pastry to make it the right amount!

Mini white chocolate and strawberry tarts:

For the pastry:

  • 180g plain flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1tbsp chopped pecans
  • 90g butter
  • 1 egg
Blend together the flour, sugar, pecans and butter in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add in the egg and keep mixing until it comes together in a ball. The recipe says you can roll it out straight away, but I refrigerated it for an hour and still had to use quite a bit of extra flour to roll it out. Roll it fairly thinly, then cut out rounds large enough to fill cupcake tin holes (I don’t actually own any cutters so I used the lid of a Nutella jar, which did the trick!) Freeze for 20 minutes to stop the pastry shrinking, then blind bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then for a further 3-5 minutes uncovered, until golden brown.
For the filling:
  • 250g marscapone
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 75ml double cream
  • 250g chopped strawberries
Heat the white chocolate with a quarter of the marscapone of a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat then beat in the remaining marscapone, then stir in the cream. Decant into a jug, then pour into the pastry cases. I found this to be enough mix to fill 15 cases. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve, then top with the chopped strawberries. Delicious summery goodness!