by Melissa Roberts with Renee B. Allen
Apples and autumn go hand in hand. Terrific eaten out of hand, it’s one of nature’s best snacks. But of course they lend themselves so well to baked goodies like pies, tarts, cakes, and applesauce.
There are many varieties of apples to choose from, but a select number are ideal for baking such as in this Apple Cheddar Tart. And what are those criteria? Look for an apple that once baked holds its shape and releases little liquid. For a more rounded flavor, an apple with sweet and tart notes is best. Hybrid varieties such as Honeycrisp, Mutsu, Pink Lady, Braeburn, and Jonagold, and heirloom varieties such as Jonathan and Gravenstein, all fit the bill.
For ease, the apple tart recipe below is made with store-bought puff pastry. The pastry is layered with apples coated with brown butter and crunchy raw sugar, then topped with sharp cheddar. At once, sweet and savory, elegant and rustic.
To take your dessert to the next level, pair it with a Connecticut dessert wine. Renée B. Allen, Director, Certified Specialist of Wine, Wine Institute of New England lends the following notes and suggestions:
When pairing wine with dessert, one should always begin with the premise that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. To do otherwise risks ruining a perfectly good wine. Combining savory with sweet, as this tart does, provides a little more wiggle room to choose. Although the wine chosen should still have some residual sugar to stand up to the apples and sugar in the tart, it does not need to be overly sweet. A fairly high acid off dry or semi-sweet wine should do the trick. And if it’s got bubbles…even better. Here are a few to try:
Hopkins Vineyard Westwind 2012 Estate Bottled. This 100% Cayuga White semi-sweet wine is crisp and bright, with good acidity and just enough sweetness to complement a fruit-based dessert.
Jones Winery Woodland White. A blend of Cayuga White, Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc, this refreshing semi-sweet wine can pair with both savory and sweet.
Bishop’s Orchard Winery Sachem’s Twilight. The bubbles in this sweet sparkler made entirely from peaches help balance the fat in the cheese and prepare your palate for the next bite, making it a fun pairing with this tart. With the somewhat higher sugar content in this wine, I might be inclined to top the tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Apple Cheddar Tart
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
- All purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 1/2 lbs apples such as Honeycrisp, Mutsu, Braeburn, or Pink Lady (about 4 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise about 1/4″ thick
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar in the raw
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar
- Parchment paper
- Put oven rack in the middle and preheat to 400°F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
- Roll out pastry sheet into a 15- by 12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Fold the pastry in half and once more, so it’s a smaller package, then transfer to a baking sheet. Unfold pastry on sheet, brush off any excess flour, then prick all over with a fork.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat, and continue to heat until butter is golden brown and has a nutty fragrance. Pour butter over apples in a bowl, then add lemon juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Spread apples evenly over pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Fold in border over apples, pressing down firmly on corners and sides. Bake until apples are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle cheese over apples and bake until cheese is golden and bubbling, 5 minutes more.
- Let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.