Sweet little rose-shaped apple tarts. That's what I made. I can't believe how well they came out, and even more so how easy they were! Seriously! Anyone can do them, and they're perfect for a spring picnic or tea party!
You literally just need some apples, lemon juice, puff pastry and apricot jam. You can use frozen puff pastry, or you can make it yourself like I did, and by making it yourself you can make them a little healthier by replacing the butter with coconut oil, and all-purpose flour with whole meal flour. It won't cut the calories, but 'healthy' doesn't mean 'low calorie', it means 'nutritional'. The coconut oil adds many more nutritional benefits than any other fat does without compromising at all on taste or texture (you can't taste the coconut at all), and so does the whole meal flour when compared to plain flour, including fibre.
250g whole meal flour
250g coconut oil room temperature
pinch of salt
1 small apple per tart
3 teaspoons of apricot jam or preserve
2 teaspoons of water
juice of one lemon
1. For the pastry: combine salt and flour in a bowl and rub in the coconut oil. Don't over-mix, you want the coconut oil to remain about the size of peas.
2. Make a little well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the water. Mix it with your hands to create your dough.
3. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Turn the cooled dough out onto a powdered surface and roll it out in one direction so it's about 3 times as long as it is wide. Fold the top third down over the middle then the bottom third up and over again, turn it 90 degrees and roll it out in one direction again so that it's 3 times as long as it is wide.
5. Fold the dough again then set back in the bowl, cover and put back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. The uncooked puff pastry dough can be frozen and kept for 6 months.
6. Once the pastry is done, get a cupcake pan out and have it on hand. Flour the pan's cavities and pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/190 C/375 F.
7. Cut your apples in half and core them, then slice them finely.
8. In a heat-proof bowl half-filled with water, squeeze in the lemon juice, then add the apple pieces and microwave for 3 minutes. This will soften and preserve the apple pieces against the heat, making them flexible.
9. In another heat-proof bowl or jug, add the three tea spoons of apricot jam/preserve and the two teaspoons of water and heat in the microwave for 1 minute.
10. Take your pastry and roll it out to about 3-5mm thick. Cut strips about 25cm long by 6cm wide. Each strip will make one tart.
11. Now you'll need to work fast. I found this out the hard way. Spread a little bit of the apricot preserve over one strip, then place the apple slices along the top, overlapping them.
12. Fold the pastry length-ways so that the apple pieces are tucked in.
13. Begin rolling it up from one end to the other and then put it in one of the cupcake pan's cavities. If you're concerned that it will unroll, make sure the part of the pastry touching the edge of the cavity is the end. They might seem small but the pastry will - you guessed it - puff out and fill the cavity once it's cooked.
14. Make the next tart as quickly as you can and set in the next cavity and so on until you have the number you need.
The reason you have to move quickly and make one tart at a time is that the apricot mixture will soak into the pastry and it will fall apart. You won't be able to get it off of the work surface. It's awful. So while my image shows two pastry strips with apricot preserve...well, they didn't work. I made them quickly and one at a time after that and avoided the problem entirely.
15. Put the pan in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, then set them aside so that they fully cool. Don't try to remove them before them or they will break. I'm very impatient but I've learned my lesson in the past about removing cakes and pastries too soon. You can always heat them back up if you'd like them warm.
The apple skin will probably burn a little but none of it will taste it. The lemon juice and water you soaked the apple in preserves the taste and keeps it from burning, and the apricot preserve acts as a glue as well as a little more sweetness.