Occasionally there are moments where my eyes land upon an image so strikingly beautiful that it feels like its beauty is collectively crystallised into a long, slender icicle, gliding through the air seamlessly, like an arrow through the heart.
What would it be like – how amazing would it be like – to be the architect of the kind of beauty that evokes shudders down your spine, that pauses the passing of time. I wonder if I could ever reach those heights. The process of observing, imitating and emulating seems like an endless loop – I wonder when will I get to create something that’s authentically mine. But in a world where artistic inspiration is more often than not drawn from preceding works or our surrounding environments, can there ever be a fully original artistic expression? Unless of course, one is a genius, which I guess, one can hope to be….
Apple Rose Tartlets
makes 5 three-inch tartlets
For the tart crust:
102 grams all-purpose flour
30 grams icing sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
64 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 large egg yolk
For the almond cream:
50 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
50 grams icing sugar, sifted
40 grams whole egg, beaten
2 teaspoons rum
50 grams finely ground almonds
For the apple compote:
1 medium sized apple, diced into small cubes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup water
2 to 3 small apples
Make the tart dough: Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the pieces of butter and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely. Add in the egg and pulse to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc and cover with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the fridge for at least an hour.
Evenly roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper until it’s roughly 3~4mm thick. Divide the dough into portions, press firmly into the tartlet molds and trim off any excess dough. Prick the bottom of the crust and return to the fridge for at least an hour. Bake at 170C for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the crust has taken on a golden brown color. Set aside to cool.
Make the almond cream: While the tart crusts are baking, make the almond cream. Beat the butter and icing sugar together until combined. Beat in the egg, then the rum until incorporated. Stir in the ground almonds. Divide the almond cream evenly amongst the cooled tart crusts and smooth the tops off with spatula. You want the tartlets to be completely level when they’re baked so be careful not to overfill them. You may have more almond cream than necessary, you don’t have to use it all. Bake at 170C for 10 to 12 minutes or until the tops are just beginning to brown. Set aside to cool.
Make the apple compote: Combine the diced apple chunks, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and water in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apple chunks have softened but are not mushy. Set aside to cool before refrigerating until cold. It’s probably best to make this right after you make the dough so they can both chill in the fridge at the same time.
Assemble the tart: Place a heaping tablespoon of apricot jam in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted and smooth. Brush the jam on the tops of the tartlets. Take about a tablespoon of apple compote and mound it on the middle of each tartlet.
Slice each apple into thin slices using a mandolin. Arrange the apple slices around the apple compote such that each subsequent slice overlaps the previous slice closely. Make sure that the apple slices keep within the circumference of the tartlet. It’s a fairly time consuming process and I would recommend that you set aside around 20 minutes or more per tartlet. Brush the finished tartlets with more melted apricot jam.
Recipe inspired by Cedric Grolet’s Apple Tart.