Oh, hallo there, fall. You bittersweet time of year with your clear blue skies, brisk breezes, dancing sunshine, leaves of crimson, amber, and gold. So beautiful, crisp, and cozy – and so undeniably the last gasp before winter sets in. Have I mentioned that I do not care for the cold?
But autumn does bring the most delectable apples, and my feelings about them, at least, are entirely positive.
Here's a super simple, easy way of enjoying the season's apples that is a sure crowd pleaser and picky-eater teaser and looks really fancy and involved.
The secret is to use frozen puff pastry dough. Of course, you can make your own pastry dough if you've got time to kill and two hands free at the same time (not so here these days) and it's possible that it might taste even better but I can't offer you any guarantees on that.
I've had great results with DuFour's puff pastry and apparently their dough is one of the best money can buy. But I think this tart would be tasty with any puff pastry because of all the butter, no matter what brand you use. Just don't forget to factor in time for the store bought pastry to defrost.
Use a crisp, sweet-tart apple such as Macoun, Mutsu, Cortland, Northern Spy, or Granny Smith. There are dozens of good varieties available at this time of year, at least here in New York – the apple bin of the country. Do not skimp on the onions as they provide such delicious sweet flavor. Plus, I am always amazed by how much they reduce during the caramelization. Lots of fresh herbs give the tart a pleasant hint of freshness amid all that wonderfully melty cheese and buttery pastry.
Pine nuts provide some hearty crunch and a lovely toasted flavor while you chew. Salt and pepper do their part by adding another layer of flavor and spice.
Easy apple cheddar tart with caramelized onions & pine nuts
Makes one tart
Serves 4 to six 6 an appetizer or 2 to 3 as a main course
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
2 medium or 1 large apple, cored and sliced (not too thick, you want to avoid too much weight or liquid as it will make the pastry soggy)
2-3 branches fresh thyme, chopped
Handful of fresh basil and/or oregano, chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (you could also use goat or gruyère cheese)
1 large onion, sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful of toasted pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. While you're waiting for the pastry to defrost, sautée the onions in a frying pan in olive oil until translucent.
Lay the sheet of puff pastry out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Prick the dough inside the border all over with the tines of a fork to prevent it from puffing up too much during baking.
Spread a layer of cheddar (or whichever cheese you choose) on the pastry. Top with the onions, then arrange the apple slices on the pastry in a single layer (crowding or overlapping them could make the puff pastry soggy). Scatter the fresh herbs over the apples. Drizzle the tart with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If using gruyère, reserve a little cheese to sprinkle over the top.
Bake the tart until the pastry is crisp and deeply browned on the bottom and around the edges, 30-40 minutes.