During one of my last trips back home, I stopped in Barcelona to visit my friend Ainara. Barcelona has a special charm, the light, the ocean, the mystic, quirky culture. Beautiful and colorful. And if you are obsessed with pastry as I am, it’s full of beautiful small pastry shops. Chocolate is a big part of their gastronomy. The windows are always full of chocolate sculptures and during Easter, the entire town goes chocolate crazy. It’s a pleasure to watch.
One of my favorite stops in Bubo. It’s a modern pastry shop owned by famous pastry chef Carles Mampel. The shop is only about 3 or 4 years old and it’s full of the most exquisite yet fun pastries I have seen in a long time. His tarts are divine. Some simple, some complex. He also has a catering business and displays some of his mini creations in the window. Savory tapas in a stick. I seem to find food on a stick a lot lately. I think it brings us back to our childhoods and makes food playful, easily and uncomplicated.
Another great Spanish patissier is Paco Torreblanca. He has published three amazing pastry books, two of them are professional level and one of them is for the home cook. More on him on future posts because his books really inspire me.
The tart is built with three different components. Sable breton base which is the same recipe I used for the strawberry and rhubarb tarts, diplomats cream which is pastry cream lightened with whipped cream and caramelized apples. I finished it with apricot glaze and pistachios. The glaze gives it shine and it also protects it from oxidizing.
I used Fuji apples because although they are not used a lot in baking, I feel their crisp texture and tartness makes them perfect for tarts or desserts in which you want to keep some of its consistency.
Caramelized Roasted Apples
Makes 4 tarts
3 medium size Fuji apples or you can even use Granny Smiths
2 Tbs granulated sugar
Peel and core the apples. Cut them into 8 wedges. Place these wedges on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and sprinkle the sugar on top of each one of them. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until they start to soften and the sugar starts to caramelize. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on the sheet pan until they are cool enough to handle.
Makes more than you will need but you can use the rest as a filling for another pastry or eat it all by itself
2 cup organic whole milk
4 oz sugar
1.5 oz cornstarch
2 organic eggs
1 organic egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs unsalted organic butter
1 cup organic heavy cream, whipped to soft peak
Whip the cream to soft peak and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make a pastry cream with the rest of the ingredients. Place the milk in a saucepan and bring it to a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until there are no lumps. Temper the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk. Return this custard to the saucepan and cook until it starts to boil and it thickens. Remove from heat and immediately, transfer the cream to a clean bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and the butter. Continue whisking until the cream cools down. Place plastic wrap on top, touching the cream so no skin forms on the custard. Refrigerate.
When the pastry cream is cold, we will combine it with the heavy cream. Add a little bit of the pastry cream to the whipped cream and fold gently with a spatula until well incorporated. Add another small amount and continue the same until all has been added.
Assemble the Tart
Pipe a small amount of the cream on top of the baked and cooled sable rounds. Place 5 or 6 baked apple wedges on top of the cream creating a pattern that looks like a fan. Glaze the tart with some hot apricot glaze. Most of the time I use apricot jam that I warm up in the microwave and strain through a fine sieve to get rid of any chunks. Finish with chopped pistachios.
The apples melt in your mouth. They almost taste like if they had been baked with lots of butter but no, they haven’t. There’s something about Fuji apples!