Smoky Duck Breast with Tart Black Currant Sauce

Duck lends itself to sous vide cooking and strong flavours, so don’t think I’m part of a cult that only cooks sous vide and with tea. Although that’s not a bad basis for a cooking obsession. But I sincerely believe that this recipe is transformative to a duck breast in the best way. So don’t assume I’ve gotten lazy. Assume that you’ll love this.

As it is sous vide, it’s oddly easy to make on a week night, as you can make it ahead. Of course, with many people working from home, you could take a 10 minute break, pop the duck in the water bath and return at your convenience to quickly brown these darlings when you please. And dry duck breast is a tough, miserable business. Sous vide can keep it lower temperature longer, preserving the texture and eliminating the risk of over cooking.*

My husband loves every bit of this and eats the fat without hesitation. The smoky and salty flavours permeate the fat and flesh, and fill you up, so that all you need is a side green or a salad as accompaniment. Ina Garten’s mashed rutabaga is also perfect with this, but you don’t need it.

You simply wash and dry your duck breast. Salt it all over. Throw it in your cooking bag and pat Lapsang Souching liberally all over your duck breast until you’ve covered both sides. Pack it generously with fresh bay leaves and forget about it for a few hours. The tannins in the tea and bay leaf will tenderise the duck breast and infuse it with delicious smokiness, like duck bacon but meatier.

If you have time, chop an onion in a fine dice, put it in some melted butter in a pan, and stir it in. Leave it on low for an hour or two while you go back to work. When you are ready to brown your duck breast, you’ll have some lightly caramelized onions as a home base for some quickly sautéed Swiss chard. The bitterness of the greens is balanced by the sweet onions and rich duck.

I thank Kenji Lopez-Alt for his sous vide duck recipe. The man was an engineer before he switched to food. You can trust that his calculations are precise, and in the name of food safety I would never vary from his recommendations of cooking times and temperatures. That said, I stick to the very lowest recommended cooking time because I like my duck breast as rare as is permissible.

*(FOR YOU NON-SOUS VIDE BELIEVERS: don’t trust that sous vide cooking is safe? Read this by Cook’s Illustrated. New to sous vide? Read this by Serious Eats engineer-turned-chef J. Kenji López-Alt.)

Kenji is not a snob and so recommends IKEA Lingonberry jam with your duck breast. I don’t doubt him for a minute. Blackcurrant jam would be more French and is what I like, having had it on pigeon every chance I got in France. But I am trying to cut sugar, which is changing my palate. Also, most jam tastes more of sugar than fruit. So I have devised a sauce that has all the flavour of black currant, all of the sour, and as much sweetness as you like. But the black currant is the thing.

This dish goes well with a medium bodied, peppery red wine but is also just a fabulous with a Blanc de Noir. In Toronto this is pretentious. In France this is just Tuesday. We won’t be in France for a while, so let me dream.

The blackcurrant sauce is a reduction of freeze-dried black currents, although if you have fresh or frozen by all means use those. Black currants are high in pectin, which means a steep reduction doesn’t need any thickener. They are boiled down in red wine into a tart juice with fresh bay leaf, peppercorns and a shallot or onion. Much as I love all thing garlic, it doesn’t really work here. I have tried and it just doesn’t fit. You can add a little duck juice at the end if you can get it mostly separated from the fat, but you’ll likely just have melted duck fat in the pan, so skip it.

The resulting liquid is really very tart, but you taste the black currants first and foremost. Then you add a little honey, bit by bit, unless you have the right balance of sweet and sour. I tend to favour the sour, but you just do as you please.

Smoky Sous Vide Duck Breast with Tart Black Currant Sauce

Smoky tea and fresh bay leaf tenderize and flavour a duck breast. Sous vide cooking keeps from going beyond medium rare. Freeze-dried black currants dominate a red wine reduction without the excessive sugar of the more traditional blackcurrant jam.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian, French

Equipment

  • Sous vide appliance
  • Cast iron pan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 duck breasts
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup lapsang souching tea
  • 1 package fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup freeze-dried black currants
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-4 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Wash and pat dry duck breast. Rub salt all over. If you have time, leave them uncovered in the fridge overnight. If not, skip it.
    When you are ready to cook, preheat your water bath to 54°C (130°F).
  • Place in a Ziploc bag and sprinkle in tea, making sure to get tea all over every part of the surface on both sides of each breast.
  • Using half of the leaves from the package, line the sides of the bag with fresh bay leaf.
  • Lower into the water, letting all the air out, and cook for a minimum of 45 minutes, up to 4 hours.
  • Heat wine and black currants until boiling, pressing down on currant and stirring them in until fully hydrated. Add in shallot, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until reduced to ½ cup. Turn off heat. Let sit until ready to use.
  • When duck is done, remove the breasts from the bag. Brush off as much of the tea as you can. If it really sticks, you can rinse it off, but if you have a clean scrub brush, try that instead.
  • Heat oil in a cast iron pan set on high heat until smoking.
  • Add duck breast and cook until sizzling, about 2 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes, pressing and moving to make sure the skin is browned evenly. Flip and cook the skinless bottom until barely browned, about 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  • When ready to use the sauce, remove the herbs and strains out the shallot and peppercorn. You can add in a few more black currants if you like texture in your sauce.
  • Reheat reduction, adding in honey to taste. Add brandy, butter and salt to finish.
  • Slice and serve with sautéed greens.
Keyword #blackcurrantreduction, #duckbreast, #freezedriedblackcurrants, #sousvide, #sousvideduckbreast

Pistachio Meringue Roll with Roasted Strawberries

Welcome Spring, and failing that, welcome Easter. Sadly, we won’t be welcoming family or friends again the year. But don’t give up. Drop off desserts, make each other care packages, decorate whatever outdoor spaces you have, and remember—this will not last forever. It’s not much longer now.

Every Easter we are drowned in chocolates: eggs and their nests, bunnies, chickadees, or more modern creations like some of the beautiful chocolate creations I ordered for my family at the Grand Order of Divine Sweets. I went for the Star Wars theme, but there are many other gorgeous creations, including Wonder Woman and Doctor Who-themed merch, and multicoloured, hand-painted eggs. Chocolate not only makes beautiful gifts, it counts as self care, too.

Every spring I make a lemon cake accompanied by coloured white chocolate eggs, either more lemon or coconut, just for variety’s sake. But this year I went back to my favourite combination for inspiration: pistachio and strawberry. If strawberries don’t represent spring, then what does?

Some of the strawberries we see at this time of year are maybe not as ripe or intensely flavoured as one might hope. Easily fixed by roasting them. I used BraveTart’s recipe, following her recommendation to use toasted sugar, which takes the sweetness down a peg or two. I was keen to use rosewater or orange blossom water as well as spent vanilla pods on my berries, but this might have been pushing the palates of my loved ones, so I’ll save that for a dinner party.

Roasting the strawberries not only concentrates the flavours, it removes the fresh sharpness that is normally such a great balance to the sweetness of a ripe berry. Pistachio is such a gentle flavour, it didn’t want any tartness to overwhelm it.

For the pistachio paste: BraveTart has a beautiful recipe for that as well, and I urge you all to make it and play with it. Only good things will come from such endeavours. However, Soma has a beautiful pistachio paste that you can just pick up when you are buying your Easter bunnies. I always keep a couple of jars on hand, because you never know when you need to make something fabulous at a moment’s notice. I was also lucky enough to come across some Watkins pistachio extract, which is not easily found. You could use almond, but use half the amount. Or use pistachio liqueur, if you can find it. I used vanilla as well. I find it supports the flavour perfectly.

I did this as a roll, but you could easily do it as a stack, or in mini-mason jars as little individual desserts. There are a few steps, and it’s best made the same day, but you can make the pistachio cream, the roasted strawberries, and the candied nuts a day ahead. The candied pistachios could also benefit from rosewater or orange blossom water, but again, it’s not for everyone. The meringue you do want to make same day, and leave time for the eggs to hit from temp, then for it to cool. But it’s not hard to throw together, and it will crack, so you can just not worry about that at all. Cover it with more cream and strawberries and absolutely no one will care.

Pistachio Meringue Roll with Roasted Strawberries

A beautiful pistachio cream coats a chewy, dense, nut-laden meringue filled with roasted strawberries.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, British, Canadian, French
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

Pistachio Cream

  • ½ cup pistachio paste (see link)
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • ½ tsp pistachio or ( ¼ tsp. almond extract)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Pistachio Meringue

  • 1 cup ground pistachios (available at Nuts.com, or make your own)
  • 1 cup white sugar, plus 2 tbsp.
  • tsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • ½ tsp pistachio extract

Candied Pistachios

  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Roasted Strawberries

  • 7 cups fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 hull vanilla bean
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions
 

  • Set the oven rack to the middle position and set the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Line a 12 x 17 inch (30 x 43 cm) sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the ground pistachios with 2 tbsp of sugar and the cornstarch.
  • Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin mixing on medium speed until egg whites are foamy. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until soft peaks.
  • Add remaining 1 cup of sugar in a slow stream, then stop the machine and scrape down the edges.
  • Continue beating until the egg whites form stiff, shiny peaks.
  • Add in the vinegar, pistachio or almond extract.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the ground pistachio mixture, one third at a time.
  • Spread the meringue evenly in the pan, levelling the top gently.
  • Place in the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 275°F (140°C).
  • Bake until meringue is lightly set and light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Leave on a wire rack until completely cool.
  • Turn oven back to 375°F (190°C).
  • Wash strawberries and slice off the tops. Slice biggest ones in half. Toss with lemon juice, sugar and vanilla pod.
  • Roasted, stirring one or twice, until just softened and swimming in juice, about 30 minutes. Let cool.
  • Rinse out the bowl of the stand mixer. Add 1/2 cup of cream to the pistachio paste, and blend together with the paddle attachment. Blend until smooth.
  • Scrape off the paddle attachment and replace it with the whisk attachment. Add in mascarpone, the extracts and the rest of the cream. Beat together until stiff.
  • Spread the cream evenly over the meringue, leaving a little border for spillover.
  • Strain strawberries and rough chop (or squish with freshly washed hands) and spread over cream.
  • If you have a helper to assist with the roll, do so. It will crack. You don't care, because you are not Martha Stewart and you are covering it with cream anyway. Do your worst.
  • Slather more pistachio cream over the outside, and pop it in the fridge or freezer while you candy the whole pistachios.
  • Warm pistachios over low heat with 2 tbsp sugar stirring all the time. Let cool.
    Decorate roll with more strawberries and pistachios.
  • Serve within a couple of hours. Prepare yourself for adoration and pledges of undying loyalty. Happy Easter!
Keyword #pistachio, #pistachiocream, #roastedstrawberries, #strawberry, #strawberrydesserts

Hearty Kale Salad

Isn’t all kale salad hearty? and healthy? Isn’t that why we eat it? Surely nobody actually LIKES kale salad. Well, do it right, and you might.

I was eating kale long before the Great Kale Craze of 2012. I tend to prefer it cooked, if only because raw kale tastes like cut grass, and not in a good way. Why else was everyone drowning it in Caesar dressing back in the day?

That approach is not without merit. A good amount of fat and salt can make almost anything taste good. But withering kale with a physical rub and salting it to soften the texture and flavour can make it something that I actually want to eat. And not just because it’s healthy.

Kale salad also has the benefit of being the only kind of salad that stays nice when made ahead. Whether you are still going into work sometimes, or whether you just want a batch of greens you can dig out of the fridge at a moment’s notice, kale salad is your friend.

The secret is twofold: use strongly flavoured, non-wilting ingredients that can stand up to the kale, then get your hands mucky.

Kale pairs well with strong cheese such as old cheddar or blue cheese. I used beef bacon, because for some reason it just really complements the flavours in this salad, but any bacon would do. Shredded duck with crispy skin would also be a perfect accompaniment, but I topped this with slow roasted chicken to make a complete meal. Keto much?

I always make an incredibly garlicky and mustard-filled dressing with a strong olive oil. Before I toss it and let it sit, though, I salt the kale, and massage it with some force for every batch I wash. I just keep grinding a little salt on, then taking every fresh bit I’ve washed and kneading it like bread to break it down. This recipe is not for baby kale. This is for the hearty stuff that you know you should eat, but are afraid will taste like hay and alfalfa sprouts. It won’t.

This recipe would be great with the addition of my Smoky Onion Pickles, if you have them. Or use a smoked mustard in your vinaigrette, like Kozlik’s Old Smokey.

If you find kale—or any cabbage—hard on your digestion, try sipping some Puerh tea along with it. This fermented tea does wonders with its probiotic properties, and the mushroomy, earthy flavours nicely offset the robust vegetal kale.

Do it! You won’t hate it. You might even like it. And your body will thank you.

Hearty Kale Salad

This one-bowl meal features rough chopped vegetables marinated in a flavourful dressing and kale that is tamed by massage. Hazelnuts and cheddar add fat and umami, carrots and purple cabbage adds crunch and colour.
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 2 heads green or purple curly kale
  • ¼ head purple cabbage
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 cup cubed strong cheddar
  • 4 pieces crispy bacon (beef bacon works well here)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp strong mustard
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Wash kale carefully. Spin dry, then rip into smallish pieces.
  • Graet salt over each batch, then rub forcefully and throughy every time, incorporating the fresh washed kale with the salted and massaged.
  • Let the kale sit as you chop your other vegetables and fry the bacon.
  • Fry beef bacon on medium low until entirely crispy. Crumble into big bits.
  • Turn oven onto 350°F. Put hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast for 8-10 minutes, or until fragrant. Rub skins off. Rough chop or crush with a rolling pin.
  • Slice carrots into coins, not too small. You need the freshness and heft to stand up to the kale. Slice celery, erring on the side of bigger pieces.
  • Thin slice shallots.
  • Finely chop or puree the garlic, then mix with other dressing ingredients.
  • Toss dressing with all vegetables. Add bacon, cheese and hazelnuts.
  • Top with smoked duck breast or roast chicken. Or a cup of cooked lentils. Feel yourself slowing becoming fortified against any cold or or dreary landscapes, and wait for spring.
Keyword #kale, #kalesalad, #wintersalad

Tea Tasting with WNED PBS

Hey Tea Cuppers! I’m going to represent the Canadian contingent with an online tea tasting on April 15th in partnership with Sloane Tea.

We’ll be talking about how to brew white, green, oolong and black tea, as well as herbal teas.

We’ll cover single leaf teas, blended teas, and why the journey from crop to cup really matters.

Check it out here:

https://www.wned.org/community/screenings-and-events/Tea-Basics-A-Virtual-Tea-Tasting/

Sing up online by March 21 to order a tea package for $40, or sign up anytime before the event for just $10 to attend.

Christmas Tea Raisin Tarts

We wait every year for traditional Christmas foods. For those of who grew up in Western Canada, Murchie’s Christmas Blend Tea is a cherished annual treat. It’s on my list of seasonal creature comforts, not only for an afternoon break, but as a festive way to start my day.

Since the original writing of this post, Murchie’s Christmas Blend has sold out completely. Not to worry, the Orange Spice Blend is a perfect substitute.  It seems I’m not the only one who gets nostalgic for Murchie’s tea at Christmas!

Black tea is a fabulous ingredient in baking, especially in desserts. These little raisin tarts are not too sweet, thanks to the judicious use of brown sugar and the astringency that comes from soaking the raisins in double strength black tea. The tannins in the tea balance the sweetness of the syrup and the dried fruit, adding depth and just a hint of bitterness due to the extra strong brew. Like a cross between butter tarts and mincemeat, these little treats are delicately spiced, drawing on the flavours in this scented tea blend for a perfectly balanced taste. 

Tiny tartelettes are perfect for gifting and are just the right size to share space on a dessert platter with your shortbread and slices of Murchie’s Christmas Cake. They make a sweet contrast to my tangy Cranberry Apple Christmas Rose Tarts!

I use the rest of the pot to make a hot toddy based on the same flavours in the raisin tarts. You really won’t find a more comforting pairing than a tea toddy with tea-infused raisin tarts! 

CHRISTMAS TEA RAISIN TARTS

A cross between butter tarts and mincemeat, these little treats are delicately spiced, drawing on the flavours in this scented tea blend for a perfectly balanced taste. 
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 24

Equipment

  • minimuffin baking trays

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup sultana or Thompson raisins (or black currants!)
  • ¼ cup diced candied lemon or orange peel
  • 1 cup double-strength Murchie’s Christmas Blend black tea
  • ¼ cup dark rum 
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (or orange zest)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp butter (if salted, skip pinch of salt above)
  • 1 batch your favourite double-crust pie dough 

Instructions
 

  • Roll your pie dough and cut out circles, rolling and re-rolling the leftover dough until you have 48 identical shapes. The ring of a wide-mouth mason jar is the perfect size for mini-muffin pans and should yield the correct number of pastry shells for 4 dozen tarts. Press circles into mini-muffin tins. Refrigerate for two hours, or up to 24 hours in advance. 
  • Preheat oven to 400ºF. 
  • Brew a pot of Murchie’s Christmas blend double or even triple strength. Loose leaf or tea bags both work just fine. 
  • Stir together brown sugar, cornstarch and pinch of salt, if using. 
  • Combine raisins and candied peel in a pot on the stovetop with tea and rum. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes on low. 
  • Turn up the heat to medium and add in the sugar mixture. Stir together for 2-5 minutes, until liquid begins to look a little less cloudy. 
  • Turn off the heat, then add vanilla, zest and butter. Stir until butter is melted and let cool. 
  • Carefully spoon the cooled filling into the prepared tart shells. Try to scoop up mostly fruit with your spoon, filling each shell no more than halfway. Distribute remaining syrup evenly throughout. Caution: too much filling will spill over during baking, making the tarts hard to remove from the muffin tin. 
  • Bake for 12 minutes, checking at 9 minutes to make sure they don’t bubble over. Unlike a cake, you can pop these out of the oven, and then put them back in to brown further if you desire. 
  • Serve with a Hot Tea Toddy. Merry Christmas! 

Notes

This recipe works beautifully with dried currants as well. Substitute raisins with dried currants (or a mixture equaling two cups) and cook for an extra 5 minutes on the stovetop. Pairs equally well with lemon or orange candied peel and zest, or a combination of both.
Keyword #buttertarts, #cookingwithtea, #mincemeattarts, #tea

Cranberry Apple Christmas Rose Tarts

When I saw the rose apple pie on the King Arthur Flour website, I was entranced. Had to make it. But one of the instructions confused me. It advised the use of white sugar to keep the apple slices as white as possible. I can see that brown roses might seem dingy. But white? For Christmas? I wanted red roses!

Cranberry apple is both seasonal and pretty. Dehydrated cranberries are the perfect way to colour and flavour your roses, along with some vanilla bean. The berries are pulverised with sugar and vanilla seeds, and are left to macerate while the dough is cut and resting.

Cranberry and apple is a classic combo, but even with the vanilla, these tarts were missing something. Cranberries and apples are both acidic, so sourness—while desirable—can be dominate here. Sugar alone does not posses enough depth to add counterbalance the high, tangy notes. And I didn’t want to do the heavy spice route, and diminish the brightness too much—just tone it down a touch. Lining the tarts with marzipan proved to be the perfect trick—a little umami and richness to mitigate the intensity of cranberry. And to make these lovely little tarts more Christmas-y!

NOTE: I prefer almond paste for lining pies, but this year it proved impossible to find in stores. If you bake regularly, you might want to order some online. https://www.odense.com

Often when you macerate fruit in flavour sugar for a pie, you add the juices to the fruit after you’ve placed it in the pie crust. I found when I did that, my tarts were too jammy and reminiscent of cranberry sauce. I want the apples to be the dominate flavour here. Besides, apple and cranberries are both full of pectin. You don’t need the tapioca-thickened juices to hold them together. You want distinct petals, not a red, gummy blob. Please excuse the crumbs below. This is blogging verité.

The amounts in my recipe should work well, depending on how thin you slice your apples. (See the King Arthur piece for tips on apple slicing.) I used a mandolin and also tried slicing by hand. Both require practice to achieve even thickness. But if you get some very thin pieces, and they get very soggy, not to worry. You can use them to glue together thicker pieces. They’ll actually add to the amount of apple you can pack into each tart when used this way. And if you run out of apples? Just add some fresh slices, and use the well-soaked mixed in with those that sit in the macerating liquid for a shorter time. You’ll be fine to wing it a little.

I tried baking these at a lower temperature after my first few batches were burnt at the edges. But the crust never firmed up and they fell apart. So I kept the temperature high and covered them lightly with foil halfway through to ensure full cooking and no burning. I removed the foil to let the heat set my little flowers in one final blast.

A dollop of whipped cream would not hurt these one bit. AFTER everyone has had a chance to admire their beauty. If you’ve got some holly, real or fake, use the green to keep the Christmas colours happening.

Raspberry, strawberry or cherries, dehydrated of course, would all work well here. But Christmas only comes once a year! Give these tart little tarts a whirl and brighten up your Christmas table. Much happiness to you all!

Gratitude to @bravetart, aka Stella Parks, both for introducing me to the glories of freeze-dried fruit, her method of macerating apples for a pie, and her fabulous pastry dough. And to King Arthur’s Flour for instructions on how to make a rose apple pie.

Cranberry Apple Christmas Rose Tarts

Dried cranberries coat apple slices to give a seasonal taste and look to a rosebud apple tart. Marzipan softens the sourness of the cranberries and makes them even more Christmasy!
Prep Time 3 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 12

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • muffin tins
  • Tin foil

Ingredients
  

  • 1 batch favourite pie dough
  • 1 ½ oz dehydrated cranberries (or 45 gr) (you can use 1 oz or 30 gr for a less assertive cranberry flavour)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 lbs sweet apples
  • ¼ cup tapica starch also known as tapioca flour
  • 1 tube marzipan

Instructions
 

  • Make pie dough, roll out and cut into circles until you have 2 dozen circles to line 2 muffin tins. Let rest for two hours.
  • Put your freeze-dried berries, sugar, salt and the vanilla seeds together in the food precoessor until the cranberries are powdered, about one minute. Do not add tapioca at this point.
  • Put the powdery mixture in an ziplock bag or a bowl and place it beside the cutting board where you'll be slicing your apples. Add in the hollowed-out vanilla pods.
  • No need to peel your apples.
    Slice apples evenly about ⅛ inch thick. Don't worry if they are not perfectly even. Trancluscent is fine, transparent is for eating. Throw away the first slice that is mostly skin.
  • Cut the round slices in half and throw in with the cranberry-vanilla sugar mixture, tossing to coat.
  • Once all your apples are sliced, let them sit in the ziplock bag, making their own juices, for at least one hour and up to three. Toss and squish once in a while to distribute flavours evenly.
  • When you are ready to assemble your tarts, add tapicoa and give the apple slices one last good squishing to distribute it evenly.
  • Remove the tart shells (pastry dough) from the fridge and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Cut slices from your tube of maripan, about ¼ inch thick. Line the bottom of the tarts by pressing the marzipan in gently. (Don't skip this step! It MAKES the tarts!)
  • Line each tart with overlapping apple slices, starting at the outer edges and working your way in. Start with the tallest pieces. Use a variety of thicknesses to get a more natural look and to help the bigger pieces stay in place.
  • When there is a small hole in the centre, take a few thin pieces and roll them together, pressing tightly. Jam this little roll into the centre and watch it expand. If there's enough room, do it again.
  • Do not top up your roses with extra macerating liquid, or your little roses will look like little red gummy blobs.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then check to see that no burning is happening at the edges.
  • Cover lightly with tin foil and bake for 15 more minutes.
  • Remove foil and let cook for 2-5 minutes more.
  • Remove from oven, and let cool for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, use a knife to loosen around the edges. Use a fork if necessary to help the tarts out of the pan. The reason to do this quickly is that any juices that may have spilled over could cause them to stick to the pan when completely cooled.
  • Serve with whipped cream or just as is! If you can find any edible metallic spray, gold or silver would be an amazing final touch. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Freeze-dried cherries would make an excellent substitute here. Or try raspberries or strawberries. 
  • I prefer almond paste to marzipan for lining pies, but it’s been impossible to find this year. Odense makes both: https://www.odense.com
  • Mini-muffin tins make beautiful bite-sized rosebuds. Cut the baking time to 20 min, half covered, half not. They can still burn in a shorter cooking time. 
  • Gratitude to @bravetart, aka Stella Parks, both for introducing me to the glories of freeze-dried fruit, her method of macerating apples for a pie, and her fabulous pastry dough. And to King Arthur’s Flour for instructions on how to make a rose apple pie.
Keyword #applerosetarts, #christmas, #christmastarts, #cranberry, #cranberryapple, #rosetarts