On one of my trips to Massachusetts last year, I was introduced to a snack of apple slices with a thin spread of peanut butter by E.'s sister-in-law. I thought the combination was really tasty and I later found it as a food pairing in the wonderful Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit (one of my food bibles).
On a cold Autumn day, I really love eating a simple dessert and preferably a delicious French apple tart. I decided to add a small layer of smooth peanut butter on the dough before adding the apple puree and apple slices. The combination of ingredients worked wonderfully. I used apples of the Cox variety as they are great for apple-based baked desserts.
The pastry is thin and buttery and welcomes really well the sweetness of apples and the texture of the peanut butter (I could say nuttiness but it is almost too obvious). It is a dessert that makes you want more of it but maybe keep some for later, or even better, share it with your family and friends!
Ingredients (serves 6 to 8 people)
200g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
100g unsalted butter (diced)
50g cold water
1 tablespoon muscovado sugar (caster or brown sugar will work too)
1 pinch salt
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 apples (peeled, cored and sliced 2 to 3 mm thick)
Optional: caster sugar for sprinkling
For the apple puree (makes 200g)
3 apples (approximately 300g, peeled, cored and diced)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
1. Put the flour, diced butter, muscovado sugar and pinch of salt in a large bowl. Mix with your hands until you get a fine crumb. Make a well in the centre and pour in the cold water. Knead the ingredients together to shape the dough, flatten it and wrap in clingfilm. Leave to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
2. Put the apple puree ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The apples should have softened and most of the liquid reduced. Transfer into a bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Roll out the dough (3mm thick) on a large flat surface dusted with flour. Gently line a large tart tin (30cm diameter, 3 cm deep at least - and with a removable bottom if possible) with it. To make it easier, roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll in the tin. Carefully push the dough in with your fingers and then cut the excess pastry at the top. Prick the dough with a fork.
4. Spread the peanut butter on the dough with the back of a spoon. Then, add the apple puree as a layer over it. Arrange the apple slices in circles. Sprinkle some caster sugar on (optional).
Put the tart tin on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the apples lightly caramelised.
Let the tart cool down for 10 to 15 minutes before serving either on its own, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.