Tonight is my Artful Readers book club meeting and we’re discussing Ellis Avery’s The Last Nude, the book I disparaged yesterday. My not liking the book will not keep me from going to our meeting, nor did it stop me from baking some goodies. Book club is fun not only for reading (typically) good books and having conversation with intelligent adults, but also because it challenges me to bake something that connects to the book. Instead of baking a goody I don’t like (which connects to my feelings about the book), I thought connecting to the setting, Paris, would be a tastier option. The other challenge I faced was my summer break laziness: how could I bake without really baking?
Grabbing my iPad that lay next to me on the couch, I did what every lazy baker does. I googled recipes. My very first click (I felt lucky) lead me to Cinnamon Palmiers made with puff pastry. I did not have to get out my Kitchen-Aid mixer (it’s Sonoma Blue if you’re wondering), nor did I have to get out an excess of measuring cups. Perfect! Then the realization that it only used one sheet of puff pastry struck me. Imagining the other sheet residing by its lonely self in the freezer until 2016 haunted me. What else could I make? Hmm… I saw Ina Garten on the Barefoot Contessa make apple tarts using puff pastry. All I had to do was slice some apples, dab some butter, and sprinkle some sugar. Sounded lazy enough for me. Both recipes turned out really good and were pretty easy.
Amy and Ina’s French-Italian Apple Tartlets
1 sheet of puff pastry
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup apricot jam
2 tbsp. of calvados (an apple liqueur), rum, or if you are like me and don’t have either, Tuaca, an Italian liqueur also good in Chip Shots (recipe follows). You can also use water, but why?
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Line baking pan with parchment paper (you’ll hate life if you don’t).
2.I cut out thawed puff pastry into nine squares and then rolled each square out a bit.
3. Layer the apple slices on the pastry in a pretty design. (I only needed one and part of another apple, so eat the excess apple slices. It’s good for you and will make you feel better when you eat these tarts. You can rationalize to yourself, “Well, I did eat part of an apple today.”)
4. Sprinkle sugar on top. I didn’t use the entire amount; it seemed like a lot.
5. Cut up butter and dab on top.
6. Bake 14-16 minutes until pastry is puffy and golden.
7. Before the tarts come out of the oven, heat up apricot jam with liqueur of your choice. When tarts come out of the oven, brush with apricot glaze.
Palmiers are a typical French cookie that looks like a heart. Since I don’t like hearts, I now declare them ears, because really, which would you rather nibble on?
Heat oven to 400 degrees, line baking sheet with parchment.
1. On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry sheet to about 15×12 inches. Make sure there is enough (not too much) flour underneath. Puff pastry will stick, and for this recipe, you do not want it to stick.
2. Brush top liberally with melted butter.
3. Sprinkle entire surface with a mix of 1/3 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. It will look more like a deluge than a sprinkle, but it’s cinnamon sugar. It’s all good.
4. Taking the long end, roll it loosely to the center. Repeat on other side.
5. Slice into 1/4 inch slices and place on baking sheet. I folded up the “scrolls” to create the ear shape.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on cookie rack.
I have been drinking this warm, toasty drink every winter since I was 17 (?). My “surrogate parents” next door often made this, and luckily for me, I could stumble home. What did my parents think of this? My dad likes this drink, too.
Here’s the magic:
3 parts coffee
2 parts Bailey’s
1 part Tuaca
Mix. Heat up a bit in microwave. Top with whipped cream. Enjoy.