You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing fruits and vegetables. —The Mgmt.
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Like the most talented of actors, food plays a wide range of roles, from the utterly mundane to the grand and noble. When the right eater lucks into the right dish, little lies beyond their transformative capability. Food is a biography, communicating a person's essence to others, or a brightly lit mirror that helps her discover it herself. Sometimes it plays both those roles at once by bringing kindred spirits together.
Diminutive though they are, these Apple, Goat Cheese and Honey Tartlets have played all these roles in my life.
One afternoon a few years back, I heard their Siren call from the pages of an issue of Bon Appétit. I love a simple dessert that is not too sweet, and I love a cheese plate even more. These little beauties were both rolled into one irresistibly dissonant individual serving. I knew I would have to make them soon.
That night we arrived at our friends' place for dinner to discover that they were serving the short ribs from the cover of that magazine. "About the dessert, though," they said in ominous tones. "There's goat cheese in it. Just...so you know." In my own irresistible dissonance, I didn't know whether to smother them with kisses or body-check them out of the way of those golden, sweet-savory pucks. In the end, none of us has any memory of which route I took, because to lift a forkful of this dessert to one's mouth is to forgive and forget all prior related transgressions.
Apple, Goat Cheese, and Honey Tartlets
- 1 fourteen-ounce package puff pastry (single sheet), defrosted
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Scant 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Gala apple, peeled, quartered, and sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons honey, plus more for drizzling
- Light dusting of ground allspice
Preheat oven to 375°F. Unfold the puff pastry onto a cutting board. Using a 5-inch cookie cutter (or an overturned bowl and a small, sharp knife), cut four 5-inch circles from the dough. Place the rounds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press a 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter into the center of each round, stopping 3/4 of the way down so that the outer and inner portions are still attached at the bottom. This will allow the outer ring to rise around the center. Pierce the inner section of each round all over with a fork.
Place the goat cheese, lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds or until soft but not melted. Stir to combine well, then divide and spread over the inner section of each round. Top with overlapping apple slices, making sure to stay within the inner section of each round.
Combine the butter and honey in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, or until the butter is almost melted. Stir to combine and complete the melting. (Be careful, as the honey gets hot surprisingly quickly.) Brush some honey butter over the entirety of each round. Dust lightly with ground allspice. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the pastry is nicely browned.
Let the pastries cool slightly, then drizzle with additional honey if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.