These mini apple tarts are a modern translation of classic American apple pie. Rather than pie dough, the crusts are made from sablé breton (pronounced "sob-lay breh-tawn"), a type of French butter cookie. The cream is topped with a sweet tuile (pronounced "tweel") made from apple cider vinegar. They are meant to be served as mignardises.

Mignardises (pronounced "min-yar-dees") are mini pastries served in addition to, or in place of, dessert. They are typically small single-bite pastries meant to whet the palate.

This pastry is an elegant ballet of contrasting flavors and textures meant to evoke memories of more familiar desserts. With high notes of tart apple cider and low notes of Autumn spiced cream, the bite-sized package comes together with a bit of nutty crunch from the sablé breton and the tuiles. After the first bite, the apple cider tuiles begin to dissolve in the mouth, giving a second kick of tart apple flavor.

These tartlets do not keep long once assembled, maybe an hour or two. The sablé breton will lose its crunch, the apple wedges will oxidize and brown, and the tuiles will start to soften and dissolve. Fortunately, most of the components can be prepared in advance and assembled just before service. Since mignardises are meant to be eaten right around dessert, they can be assembled just as dinner party guests are wrapping up their meal.

Ingredients

Makes 2 dozen tartlets, with a few extra so you can select only the best ones to serve.

Sablé Breton Tart Crusts
  • 250 grams flour (8.8 ounces, 1 3/4 cup)
  • 140 grams butter (4.9 ounces, 1 1/4 stick)
  • 100 grams sugar (3.5 ounces, 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large egg (55 grams, 1.9 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (4 grams kosher salt, 0.1 ounces)
Spiced Chantilly Cream
  • 450 grams heavy whipping cream (16.6 ounces, 2 cups)
  • 50 grams white sugar (1.7 ounces, 4 tablespoons)
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 allspice
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
Apple Cider Gelée
  • 1 cup of quality apple cider (235 grams, 8.3 ounces)
  • juice from 1 lemon (30 grams, 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon of apple brandy or cognac
  • 3 grams of gelatin (0.1 ounce, 1 teaspoon)
Apple Cider Gelée

You must use a high-quality non-alcoholic apple cider. If you cannot find a quality apple cider from a farmer's market or gourmet grocery store, it is easy to prepare your own (see below).

Assembly
  • 1 apple for garnish
  • lemon juice to prevent apples from browning
  • 3 grams of gelatin for cream (0.1 ounce, 1 teaspoon)
  • white chocolate (optional for securing apple garnish)
  • gold leaf (optional decoration)
(Optional) Homemade Apple Cider
  • 6 sliced apples
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon cloves

In a large stock pot, add just enough water to cover the apples and other ingredients. Let this simmer, covered, for an hour. Mash up the apples and let simmer for another hour. Strain and let the cider cool.

Equipment

Infuse the Spiced Chantilly Cream

This component should be prepared in advance, but it can only be whipped with the gelatin shortly before assembly.

Begin by infusing the heavy ceam with spices, which takes several hours. It will later be chilled and whipped to be piped into the crusts.

Crack all of the spices to help the cream better infuse.

Transfer the cream to a container, cool, and leave in the refrigerator to infuse overnight or at least 4 hours.

Move on to prepare the rest of the components while the cream infuses with the spices. The cream uses gelatin to stabilize, so it can only be prepared before assembling the tarts.

Prepare the Apple Cider Gelée

This component should be prepared in advance.

Bloom the gelatin in cold water by quickly stirring the two together and the gelatin is fully hydrated. Heat the bloomed gelatin, apple cider, and the lemon juice together until fully combined.

Allow this to cool to room temperature before using. You can also refrigerate it overnight and reheat in the microwave before using.

Prepare the Sablé Breton Tartlet Crusts

This component should be prepared in advance.

Begin by bringing your butter to room temperature. Using a stand mixer or hand beater, begin beating the butter.

The temperature at which you work with the dough from this point forward is important. Knead the dough until it's smooth, cover, and set it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. The dough should be chilled, but still very workable.

Transfer the rolled out dough to a pan or sheet that can be refrigerated. Cover the dough and leave in the refrigerator until rigid, about 45 minutes.

If the dough has softened, place it back in the refrigerator until the circles are rigid again. If you try to transfer the dough when soft, it will cause the circles to bend or rip.

Transfer the circles onto the hemisphere molds so that they cover the cavity. Leave these to rest at room temperature to soften and become shapeable. Once softened and beginning to sink into the cavities, they are ready for working into the domes with your fingers.

Clean up the edges as much as possible, but don't worry about getting them perfect; you can always even them out with a microplane later.

Place the tart crusts in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Leave the tart crusts to cool on a cooling rack.

Save these tarts in an airtight container covered with rice. Rice is a natural desiccant, so it will keep them dry.

Prepare the Apple Cider Vinegar Tuiles

This component cannot be prepared more than three hours in advance. However the batter can be prepared well in advance and baked just before assembly.

Melt the butter in a small bowl.

If you don't have acetate, you can use any sheet of cardstock paper as a single-use stencil. You may have to make multiple stencils if your material starts to absorb water from the batter.

As the tuiles bake, they will bubble and congeal to form small holes. Bake at 350°F (175°C) until the tuiles are a deep brown color and there the centers are no longer pale and soft.

These tuiles will not last more than one day. They are optimal around 15 minutes out of the oven, but their high sugar content will start to draw moisture from the air immediately. Even after a few hours, they will begin to lose their crunch. Because texture is essential to the final dessert, be sure to keep these separate from the cream until just prior to serving.

Assemble

Leave these apples for final assembly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Bloom the gelatin in about 1/2 cup of cold water by quickly stirring the gelatin powder with the water. When the mixture gels and becomes solid, microwave the gel for 5 seconds at a time until liquid.

Cover these tartlets and transfer to the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes for the cream to cool and the gelatin to stiffen. When the chantilly cream is stiff, it's ready to form the cavities for the apple cider gelée.

Use a half teaspoon resting in a bowl of hot water to carve out the cavity.

Carefully transfer to the refrigerator to cool and gel. Once cool, remove the tartlets.


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