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Say that you are having a party. Say, a large party, one with lots of guests. The kinds of guests you want to impress, but are svelte health-conscious types, so you don’t want to go overboard with dessert and serve a seven-layer chocolate cake or something.

This. This is what you should serve.

Not only are these tarts impressively beautiful, they’re something of a Cinderella dessert: despite all their frills and puffs, at their hearts they’ve got the honest flavor of down-home apple pie, all cinnamon and sugar and sweet homey reminiscence.

Apple Rose Tarts

Inspired by Вкусно с Йоли.

Makes three 5-inch tarts

Ingredients
6-8 rosy-skinned baking apples such as Fuji, Jonagold, or Honeycrisp
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water
pinch salt
1/2 recipe your favorite all-butter pie crust recipe or 1 purchased refrigerated pie crust
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

Peel, core, and dice three of the apples. Combine these apple pieces with the brown sugar, cinnamon, water, and pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about an hour, or until apples break down completely into a smooth apple butter, adding water as needed to keep it from sticking and burning. Remove the lid and reduce to a thick, caramelized consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly as you prepare the rest of the tart shells.

Heat the oven to 350°F (1980°C).

If using homemade pie crust, break the dough into three pieces and roll into circles large enough to fit in 5-inch tart pans. If using purchased pie crust, cut out as many appropriately-sized circles as you can from the sheet you have, then combine the scraps and re-roll and re-cut until you have three circles. Press the pie dough into three 5-inch tart pans and poke all over with a fork. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the tart shells from the refrigerator and cover each with a square of parchment paper or aluminium foil. Fill with pie weights or beans and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tart shells look dry but are not yet quite browned. Remove the pie weights and parchment or foil and allow to cool slightly.

Divide the apple butter evenly between the three tart shells and smooth down. This will serve as the base layer on which to stick the apple roses.

To make the apple roses, make 1-2″-long strips from the remaining apples with a vegetable peeler and soak in a medium bowl of cold water mixed with the lemon juice to prevent browning. Try to keep a small piece of the peel on the edge of each strip for color. Wrap one strip into a cone shape, then layer more apple strips on it like the petals of a rose. When the rose is as large as you’d like, stick it into the apple butter base of one of the tarts. Continue with the rest of the apple strips until all three tart shells are filled. Brush the apple roses with the melted butter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the apples are slightly browned and soft and the crust is golden brown. Cool and, if desired, dust with powdered sugar.

Notes

These tarts are best on the day they’re baked, but they will keep for about a day, wrapped and refrigerated. After that they will start to get soggy.

Music to cook by: Angels [The xx // Coexist]

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