My brown butter apple tartlets made with the last of my Gravenstein apples went fast! I like to bake with Gravenstein apples during their short season, but any tart baking apple would work well in this simple recipe. I used purchased pie dough for an even quicker batch of apple tartlets but feel free to substitute your favorite 9″ pie crust dough recipe. My tartlets are like apple pie cookies and would make wonderful after school treats for my ‘littles’ or for my husband Scott, who, after eating two tartlets rather quickly asked me to take the plate away, oh well-more for the ‘littles’! Next time I’ll double this recipe by adding 2 more apples and another pie crust dough to make 16 tartlets. The brown butter filling recipe makes more than you will need for this recipe, so it could be easily stretched to make a double batch. I froze my extra brown butter filling to make a future batch of tartlets. I also think it could be added to a batch of cookies or quick bread in place of butter, egg and/or sugar in a different recipe. I like experimenting with ingredients when I bake, that’s part of the baking adventure. Yes, baking is an adventure as well as a science. We’ve been told to measure our ingredients and be very precise but some recipes are more forgiving than others so that’s the time to play around and have some fun!
One of my favorite things about keeping a bowl of Gravenstein apples on my counter is the way their sweet scent permeates the kitchen. They ripen fast at room temperature and turn a soft yellow color which I think is striking next to the red stripes covering their sides. I’m always looking to show off fresh picked apples, like in a favorite cobalt blue bowl that contrasts with the yellow, green and red colors. This is one of the ways I know that Fall is on the way. We generally have a long Indian Summer in California. The leaves turn colors and the evenings become cooler, so although the seasonal changes might be considered subtle in comparison to other parts of the world, we ease out of Summer and into Fall just like everybody else. One of these apples is from a tree in my backyard and it’s not a Gravenstein, can you tell which one it is? Hint: It has a redder top than the other apples, way easier than finding Waldo!
Adapted from Sweet Gratitude by Judith Sutton
- For The Brown Butter Filling
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of sea salt
- 3 & 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- For The Tartlets
- Pie dough for single crust 9" pie, I used purchased pie dough
- 2-3 Gravenstein apples
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar, homemade or purchased
- To Make The Brown Butter Filling
- Place the butter in a medium size heavy skillet over medium heat.
- Cook until the butter is golden brown with a nut like aroma and you see dark specks in the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes,remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, sugar and vanilla bean paste, whisk until well blended.
- Stir in the flour and salt, stirring until well combined.
- While constantly whisking gradually add the browned butter, leaving the dark speck solids at the bottom of the heavy skillet, cool and refrigerate this mixture, for at least 1 hour up to 2 days, until ready to use.
- To Make The Tartlets
- On a lightly floured surface roll out the homemade pie dough, if purchased- defrost, peel off the plastic and lay on work surface.
- Using a large size biscuit cutter, cut out 8 rounds, you may have to re-roll scraps to cut out the last 2 rounds.
- Place the dough rounds on a baking sheet and place in the fridge.
- Peel,core and halve the apples, rubbing sides with lemon juice.
- Cut each apple half into thin slices, about 1/8- inch thick, place in a bowl and add a few additional drops of lemon juice.
- Bring the dough rounds out of the fridge and spread each one with a generous spoonful of the brown butter filling, leaving a small border of plain dough around the edges.
- Place 4 slices on top of the filling and sprinkle with vanilla sugar, slightly crimp the plain edges of the dough around the apple slices and put back in the fridge while preheating the oven to 400F.
- Place the tartlets in the oven and reduce the temperature to 375F, bake for about 18 minutes until the apple slices look cooked and the crust is golden brown.
- Cool on a metal rack, serve warm or at room temperature.