From the Chronicle Kitchen
Honey-Ginger Apple Croustades with Cinnamon-Sugar Walnuts
Makes six 3 1/2-inch croustades
Croustade is just another way to say “rustic tart,” but it sounds good, doesn’t it? These individual croustades look so sweet on a dessert plate. And because they’re rustic, there’s no need to worry about shaping the pastry-just fold up a little border and you’re done. I take these a step beyond a simple fruit tart by sprinkling them with crunchy glazed spiced walnuts, but they’re perfectly lovely unadorned, too.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus about 2 tablespoons melted butter for glazing
1 1/4 pounds apples (about 5 medium, I like Braeburns and Fujis), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks to make about 5 cups
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
1 sheet (about 9 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
Cinnamon-Sugar Walnuts (recipe follows)
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling, then add the apples and toss to coat. Sauté until a lot of the moisture has steamed off and the apples start to soften and brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the honey, ginger, cinnamon, and salt and toss to blend. Taste and add more of any of these flavorings if you like. Set aside to cool.
On a lightly floured counter, roll the pastry into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Cut into six 5-by-5-inch squares, then trim off the corners of each square to make a rough round.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Arrange the pastry rounds on a baking sheet and prick each one at 1/2-inch intervals. Portion the apple filling evenly among the pastry rounds, leaving about a 1/2-inch border of pastry. Wet the border with a little water and loosely pleat it to create an edge that embraces the apples; the pastry won’t cover the center of the apple filling. Brush the edge with some of the melted butter.
Bake the croustades until the pastry is pale gold and set, about 18 minutes; brush a little more butter onto the pastry and continue baking until the pastry is puffed and a rich golden brown on the border and undersides (lift one to check), another 5 to 7 minutes.
Slide the croustades onto a cooling rack. Sprinkle each one with a heaping tablespoon of Cinnamon-Sugar Walnuts and let cool for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour before serving.
To make these ahead, fill and shape the croustades, freeze them unwrapped until firm, then wrap well in plastic and freeze until ready to bake. Bake directly from the freezer and add a few minutes to the cooking time.
Makes about 1/2 cup
These nuts are tasty for munching as well as for garnishing the croustades. Be careful when you’re stirring because the sugar gets very hot.
1/2 cup walnut halves
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Line a plate with foil. Put the walnuts, sugar, and salt in a small skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar starts to melt but is not yet syrupy and the walnuts start to smell toasty. Don’t let the sugar caramelize. Pour the nuts onto the plate, sprinkle with the cinnamon and let cool completely.
Put the nuts in a heavy plastic bag and crush them with something heavy. You want small pieces with a little bit of powder. Taste and add more salt or cinnamon to taste.
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