Apple-Caramel Tart

2 12 2009


Apple-Caramel Tart makes an impressive dessert for special occasions.


It’s already December and fall is drawing to a close.  Christmas is only a few weeks away and people are starting to think about their menus for the holidays.  I usually like to serve a couple of options at Christmas, typically an apple pie and maybe another kind of rustic fruit dessert (although last year I admit to serving lemon and chocolate tarts that I purchased).  There is nothing wrong with a basic apple pie but for a special occasion, why not serve something a bit fancier?  An apple-caramel tart looks impressive and tastes delicious.  There are a number of components to the recipe but none are difficult if you take it step by step.  The end result will wow your guests – you may never go back to making regular apple pie again!

Apple-Caramel Tart

The caramel can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge.  Re-heat slightly to soften after refrigeration.

Makes one 10″ tart

  • ½ package of frozen puff pastry, thawed


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons whipping cream 

Apple Spice Layer:

  • 5 medium sized apples, such as McIntosh
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup flour


  • 2 Tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Roll puff pastry out to fit a 10″ tart pan. Place pastry in pan and crimp edges. Place the pan in the fridge until ready to use.

To make caramel:

  1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water and heat on medium-high, whisking until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Heat mixture until it begins to turn medium brown, about 10 minutes. Swirl pan to stir mixture and watch very carefully as it can burn in seconds.
  3. Once the sugar mixture reaches the desired colour, remove immediately from the heat and add the butter, salt and whipping cream. Whisk together until combined.
  4. Caramel can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. It will get quite thick upon cooling so re-heat it before using.

Preparing the apples:

  1. Peel and core apples with an apple corer. Cut each apple in half lengthwise through the middle. Place the halves on a cutting board with the flat sides facing down. Cut into slices about 1/8″ thick.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss apple slices with cinnamon, sugar and flour until evenly coated with spice mixture. Assemble tart immediately (do not prepare apples in advance or they will turn brown).

To Assemble Tart:

  1. Spread caramel in an even layer on the uncooked puff pastry.
  2. Arrange apple slices in a spiral pattern around the tart, overlapping the slices slightly. Make sure the entire tart is covered with apple slices (see photo).
  3. Bake tart for about 50 minutes or until the pastry is beginning to brown around the edges. Remove tart from oven.
  4. Mix apricot jam with butter and heat in a saucepan or the microwave until melted and bubbling. Using a pastry brush, carefully brush apple slices with apricot mixture and return to the oven for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the pastry is browned along the edges.
  5. Slice and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This recipe first appeared on Suite


Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

30 11 2009


A bin of apples at the farmer's market


It’s a cool November morning and I’m sitting here staring at my bowl of Special K with low-fat milk feeling uninspired.  I’m craving something sweet and comforting and I’m afraid my healthy option just isn’t cutting it (little wonder, since I don’t really like cereal that much).  I’m tempted to make a run for the cafe near my house because they sell fantastic pastries including almond croissants, chocolate croissants and fruit danishes.  However, I don’t need to develop a daily pastry habit so perhaps I can whip up something that fits the criteria of being (relatively) healthy yet comforting. Apple Walnut Bread is the perfect solution.  It’s also a great idea for those of you who overindulged this past weekend and are looking for lighter options while recovering from turkey and pumpkin pie overload.

Using apple sauce in place of some of the fat keeps the bread moist and flavourful while whole wheat flour and oatmeal add fibre. Serve with a cup of coffee or tea for a great breakfast option that suits these grey days.

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

Makes one loaf

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats, such as Quaker brand
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated (about 1-1/3 cups grated apple)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts


  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard sized loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg). Stir until thoroughly combined, making sure spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Add eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add grated apple and stir until well distributed through batter. Gently fold in walnuts but do not over mix batter. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  4. Prepare topping: in a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Sprinkle sugar mix and nuts over batter.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool. Run a knife around the perimeter of the loaf before unmolding it from the pan. Slice and serve.


Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite

Apple Pie

20 01 2009


The White House at night

The White House at night

Today is a historic day in the United States.  The whole world is watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama so why not mark the occasion with a special menu to celebrate?  The official menu for the inauguration luncheon includes Seafood Stew, Duck Breast with Cherry Chutney, Herb Roasted Pheasant with Wild Rice Stuffing, Molasses Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Winter Vegetables and Cinnamon Apple Sponge Cake.  You can get the recipes here:  Recipes from the 2009 Inaugural Luncheon.  

If you’d rather make something simpler but still quintessentially American, why not bake an apple pie?  It’s easy to put together and is always a crowd pleaser (especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!).  Apples are considered ‘in season’ right now because the autumn harvest can be stored through the winter.  I used MacIntosh apples but you can use any kind of medium-tart apple including Cortlands, Gravensteins or even Granny Smiths.    Nothing beats homemade pastry but in a pinch you can use pre-made frozen (uncooked) pie crust.  Just be sure to thaw it well before assembling the pie.

All-American Apple Pie

Makes one 10″ double crust apple pie

Basic Double Crust Pastry

The secret to good pastry is to handle it as little as possible and keep ingredients cold.  The measures for ice water are not exact – add what you need to get the dough to stick together without being too wet.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • Approximately 16 to 18 Tablespoons of ice water  – Prepare a bowl of ice water and use more or less as needed


  1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir together to combine.
  2. Cut shortening and butter into small pieces and add to dry mixture.  Using a pastry cutter, cut into flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Spoon ice water into mix, adding it a little at a time.  Stir pastry dough every few tablespoons and stop adding water once the pastry can form a ball.
  4. Cut ball of pastry in half.  Sprinkle a clean countertop with about 1/8 cup flour and place half of the dough on the counter.  Press on dough ball until it is a flattened disk.  Sprinkle a spoonful of flour over pastry disk.
  5. Working from the centre of the pastry disk, moving outward toward the edges, roll out pastry until it is thin.  It will be larger in diameter than you need but can be trimmed to fit.
  6. Carefully move the pastry to your pie plate (fold pastry circle in half and then in half again so it is folded into quarters).  Press into pie plate.  Repeat rolling process with top crust.  If making pastry in advance, cover loosely with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Apple Pie Filling

Apples can vary in sweetness so the amount of sugar may need to be increased or decreased.  Taste a piece of the apple mix before baking.  If it seems a bit tart, add a little more sugar.

  • 6 medium  apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (about 4 cups of apple chunks)
  • Approximately 3 to 4 Tablespoons sugar + an additional 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon flour


  1. In a large bowl, combine apples, 3 to 4 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste), cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  Using your hands, mix together until the apples are evenly coated.  
  2. Sprinkle in flour and mix again until fruit is coated.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling the Pie

  • Pastry (see recipe above)
  • Apple Filling (see recipe above)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spoon apple mixture into unbaked bottom crust. Cut butter into small pieces and dot the top of the apple mix.
  3. Moisten edge of bottom crust with water and lay top crust over filling.  With a sharp knife, trim any overhanging pastry.  Crimp together the bottom and top crusts, making sure to seal it well.
  4. Sprinkle the top of the pie with 1 teaspoon sugar.  Cut two or three slashes in the top of the pastry so steam can escape.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour or until the pastry is browned on top and the filling is bubbling.
  6. Serve with vanilla ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream or a slice of cheddar cheese.


Apple pie with flaky homemade pastry and vanilla ice cream - perfect for an Inauguration Celebration!

Apple pie with flaky homemade pastry and vanilla ice cream - perfect for an Inauguration Celebration!

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

2 11 2008

Now that Halloween is over, perhaps you’re looking for something that is delicious and comforting but not too decadent as you’re feeling remorse from over-indulging while getting into the holiday spirit (or eating too much candy that was left over from trick-or-treaters, as was the case in my house).  Never fear – my latest recipe for is a Spiced Apple Walnut Bread that tastes great but is made with oats, whole-wheat flour and applesauce instead of tons of oil.  It’s the perfect treat to make for a simple November breakfast.

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread


Spiced Apple Walnut Bread with apple slices

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread with apple slices

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Welcome to Fall!

24 09 2008

In Canada, there are four very distinct seasons.  Almost everyone loves summer and winter has its charms but without a doubt, my favourite season is fall.  The crisp weather, colourful foliage and an excuse to shop for a new wardrobe are all great reasons to enjoy autumn but let’s not forget about the food!  Hearty soups, rich braises, spiced cider and pumpkin treats are only some of the culinary delights fall has to offer. Many of the farmer’s markets will be running for another month or so, their stalls overflowing with pumpkins, squash and apples.  Thanksgiving offers a chance to make your favourite autumn dishes such as pumpkin pie and juicy herb-roasted turkey. And of course, there’s Hallowe’en, which falls on a Friday this year so it’s a great excuse for the adults to get together and celebrate the season with spooky cocktails and snacks.  

So get ready for fall and check back for lots of great autumn recipes and techniques. To get things started for the season, here is a quick recipe for a cider spice mix so you can whip up a cup of hot apple cider to enjoy after a brisk autumn walk or an afternoon of raking leaves.  It can be used with apple cider or, as Christmas nears, hot cranberry juice.

Spiced Cider


Makes 4 cups of cider – can easily be doubled

Spice Packet:

  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half + 4 whole sticks for garnish
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 strip orange peel, about 1″ X 2″ – peel only, make sure white pith is cut off
  • 4 whole allspice 
  • Cheesecloth, doubled and cut into a 6″ X 6″ square
  • Kitchen string – about 3″ long


  • 4 cups (1 liter) non-alcoholic apple cider OR cranberry juice
  1. Lay cheesecloth flat on the counter and add all ingredients.  Fold up corners and tie tightly with kitchen string.
  2. In a large saucepan, add cider and spice packet.  Heat on medium-high until simmering then reduce to medium-low (do not boil).  Simmer for about 30 minutes, until spices permeate the cider.
  3. Remove spice packet and discard, pour cider into mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks.
Bon Appetit and Enjoy!