Spiced Tarte Tatin Tarts

Am I putting too many apple recipes on here? Too many 'chai spiced' things? Really, this is only the second chai spiced thing, but the last chai spiced thing was also apple with puff pastry, but it wasn't proper chai. But they're oh so different from each other, I promise. This is crisp and flaky and creamy and a bit crunchy and totally different from the spiced crab apple mini pies

Tarts are like the fancied up version of pies. Pies are homey and cozy and rustic, which is really awesome. But tarts are a little more sophisticated and polished. Tarts are not always as warm and comfy-cozy as pies, but they're awesome in their own way. 

Remember a few posts back when I said I loved taking a traditional dish (like french toast) and twisting it into something new (like french toast macarons)? I did it again. Tarte Tatin is a traditional French dish of puff pastry, caramel, and apples. Basically, you make a caramel, put it in the bottom of a pan, put apples on top, and put puff pastry over top of everything. You bake it, turn it upside down on the plate, and voila - Tarte Tatin. 

This tart is just like a Tarte Tatin. Apples - check, puff pastry - check, and caramel - check. But in different ways. We've got apple spheres, a puff pastry tart shell, and caramel poaching liquid and also caramel whipped cream. Flavours are still there (plus some new flavours) but it's like a brand new dessert!

I'm going to admit that I used store bought puff pastry for this. It pains me to admit that! It pained me even more to actually buy it. It was truly in the essence of time, believe me. The idea for these tarts was last minute and I didn't have hours to prepare puff pastry, even blitz puff pastry. So, please, if you have the time, please please please, make your own puff pastry. Store bought doesn't come close to the goodness of real butter puff pastry. 

Spiced Tarte Tatin Tarts

Apple Spheres
316 g sugar
83 g water #1
50 g lemon juice

166 g water #2
4 green apples
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
3 all spice berries
2 cardamon pods
4 cloves
2 inch stick of lemongrass

Caramel Whipped Cream
120 g sugar
500 mL heavy cream
4 green cardamom pods

Puff Pastry, 1 packet store bought or roughly 400 g homemade

For the apple spheres, peel your apples. Fill a container with cold water and add a splash of lemon juice (not the measured amount of lemon juice and water). Use a 3/4 inch diameter melon baller to scoop out spheres, getting about 5 to 6 per apples. Pop the spheres in the lemon juice and water to keep them from browning. 

Once you have finished, combine the sugar, first amount of water, and lemon juice (the measured amounts) in a saucepan. Cook on medium low heat to dissolve the sugar, then turn up to high to caramelize the sugar. Once you've reached a dark amber, deglaze with the second amount of water. Drain the apple spheres and add to the caramel along with the spices. Bring back to a boil, then turn off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. 

Store in a plastic container and put another container on top to keep the spheres submerged in the caramel poaching liquid. The apple spheres can be made a day ahead.

For the caramel whipped cream, combine the cardamon and heavy cream in a saucepan. Bring just to a boil, then turn off the heat. 

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, make a dry caramel from the sugar. Put a small amount of the sugar in the saucepan and turn the heat on to medium high. Once the sugar starts to caramelize, add a small amount of sugar. Once that has dissolved, add a little more sugar. Keep doing this until you've used all the sugar and it has all dissolved and caramelized. Slowly add the cardamon infused cream (including the pods), being careful as it will bubble up and release steam. Let it cool slightly, transfer to a clean bowl or container, and put a piece of plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cool, preferably overnight.

For the puff pastry shells, preheat the oven to 400 F. Roll out your puff pastry to about 2mm thick. If you are using tartlet tins, line those. I used a muffin tin. Using a round cutter that is bigger than your muffin tin, cut out rounds of puff dough and dock the dough with a fork. If the dough starts to warm and get sticky, put it in the freezer for 5 minutes. Once the tins are lined with the dough, crumple up a small piece of aluminum foil and gently press into the moulds and fill with weights, uncooked rice, or beans. Do this for all your tart shells.

Freeze the lined tins for about 10 minutes to harden up. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, then remove the oven. Let it cool for a few minutes, then gently remove the aluminum foil and weights. Bake for a further 6 to 7 minutes, until they are golden brown on the outside. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely.

Pour the caramel whipped cream into the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks forms. Transfer to a piping tip with a small round tip.

Drain the apple spheres from the poaching liquid and reserve.

To assemble, pipe the tart shell full of caramel whipped cream, then top with your desired amount of apple spheres. Garnish with shards of caramel, spun sugar, or any other decoration of your choice. Serve immediately. 

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