Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cake of the Week: Caramel Apple Tart with Cinnamon Walnut Streusel

I think I’ve passed a growing up milestone in my life. Like my first Junior High dance, or when I got my job, or the time I “handled” a cockraoach situation in my apartment (btw that is a GREAT story, but it has no place on my lovely G-rated baking blog). 

Basically, I made crust. And it was good. And it wasn’t stressful. I didn’t scream or cry or whine (LLC can attest to this). And I may do it again voluntarily. So look at me - so adult, so mature!

This crust has changed my life. And this tart just may change yours.

For Emily’s birthday Jess and I made a semi-disastrous but ultimately delicious Caramel Cake (read about it here). There was a lot of leftover caramel, sitting in my fridge, just begging to be eaten with a spoon (which I totally did until I had to tell myself ENOUGH! Make something instead!).

So here it is, my creation in celebration of the feeling of fall in the air. Caramel Apple Tart with Cinnamon Walnut Streusel.

Basically it’s tart crust, filled with apple slices mixed with caramel, with butter/brown sugar/cinnamon/walnuts sprinkled on top. The soft tartness of the baked apples balances perfectly with the sweet and rich caramel, and the crunchy topping gives it that nutty something extra that takes it from good to omgsogoodicanbarelyhandleit. Top it with French vanilla ice cream to be transported to a place you didn't think tart could take you...

Tart crusts tend to be dry and chalky (ick), but this one came out just right. It’s somewhere between a sugar cookie and a pie crust. Thank you Sweet Pea for bringing this crust into my life!

Caramel Apple Tart with Cinnamon Walnut Streusel

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons water (as needed)

Beat butter until softened (you can do this by hand or with a mixer). Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add dry ingredients and mix until dough forms a ball, add water if your crust is too dry.

Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.

Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap and roll out on a lightly floured surfac. Transfer to an 11 inch tart pan with removable bottom by lightly rolling the pastry around the rolling-pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll the dough on top of tart pan. (Ok this part didn’t work for me. The crust totally fell apart as I transferred it. But it doesn’t really matter! You can just press the dough together once it’s in the tart pan and you’re good to go!) Working around the circumference of the pan, ease the dough into the pan corners by gently lifting the edge with one hand while pressing it into the corners with the other hand. Press the dough against the fluted sides of the pan. Roll the rolling-pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. Prick bottom of dough with a fork to prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400*. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

For the Filling:

4 large Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons flour

½ to 3/4 cup caramel sauce (depending on how sweet you want it)

Mix all filling ingredients together until evenly coated.

For the Streusel:

½ stick butter (aka ¼ cup), softened

½ cup flour

1/2 cup oats

¼ cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup chopped toasted walnuts

Pile filling into crust. Use a fork to mix up streusel ingredients until they're crumbly. Sprinkle streusel evenly over the top. Bake at 400* for 35 minutes.

And another awesome thing to say about this tart - it travels really well! My roommates and I enjoyed a few slices, then I let it cool completely in my fridge. The next morning, I sliced it up, wrapped the pieces in plastic, and conducted drug-trade-like tart transactions throughout the day with various friends who work in the area. They'd better love me, right?