I've been thinking a lot about convenience this week. I enjoy cooking from scratch when I have the time and inclination to do so. I've also been watching those cute little videos on Facebook that show recipes in a super-fast format where everything turns out fabulous. But here in the real world, we all know that our projects don't always turn out like the perfect pictures shown in the videos.
I was watching Maryland Public Television this past weekend and tuned into all the food shows. On two of them, the chefs — one of whom was the famous Julia Child! — made apple tarts. I took this as a sure sign from Julia to try my hand at the tart. The chefs on the programs used homemade pastry dough and cooked apples, but I knew that I had to make this more convenient since no one has time to bake.
This was my attempt at using pre-made items from the grocery store and adapting them to a classic apple tart. I didn't have a large tart pan but I did have four crème brulee dishes that worked fine. You could also use small disposable aluminum pans if you wanted to. My finished products weren't as picture perfect as those shown on the programs, but I think they are quite beautiful for an amateur! At least you know if I can do it, you can, too!
• 6 firm apples like Gala or Granny Smith
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 1 pound of pre-made sugar cookie dough, usually in a log in the biscuit section
• 1 23-ounce jar of unsweetened apple sauce
• 1 18-ounce jar of apricot jam
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the cookie dough into two even sections. Using one half, cut into four even amounts. Press the cookie dough into the four dishes evenly and up the sides. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough puffs up and is starting to set. I did mine at 10 minutes but should have baked another minute or two. In a fine mesh sieve, drain 2/3 of the applesauce until the excess liquid is drained off. Combine the applesauce and half of the jam into a microwave bowl and heat for 1 to 2 minutes on high until it's thoroughly heated and mixed. Add the teaspoon of cinnamon and stir.
Peel, core and slice the apples through the middle from top to bottom. You will have little half-moon shapes of apple. Put the peeled apples into a bowl of water with the lemon juice. When finished with cutting the apples, drain the water and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high until the apples are slightly cooked and more pliable. Place the applesauce mixture evenly into the dishes and then arrange the apple slices around the edge toward center like the petals of a flower. Bake for 30 minutes. Microwave 2 tablespoons of the jam in the microwave until liquid — about 30 seconds — and brush the liquid jam over the tarts to give a beautiful sheen.
Lori Edmonds is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at email@example.com.