There are so many delicious varieties available at the moment and each has its own type: sweet, acid, firm, juicy, crispy, pink or red fleshed, there is a lot to choose from!
Obviously, choosing a type of apple also depends of what use you want to make of it: is it just for eating on its own or adding to a delicious dessert? Some can serve both purposes but some others might only be delicious as cooking apples for example.
My favourite for baking is of the Cox variety. I love its flavour and how easy it is to cook with. It is sweet enough that I never need to add sugar to it, especially when I make apple puree (also known as applesauce) to include in some of my favourite desserts: apple tart and apple shortcrust turnovers.
Except that these days, the only way I can find apple turnovers is with apple puree encased in puff pastry that is then sprinkled with a lot of sugar. It tends to be overly sweet and there have been occasions when there was barely any apple puree inside, what a disappointment!
My answer to not finding my favourite pastry just as I like it is to make it myself. This is something I like doing especially when the recipe is not too difficult (yes, you probably won’t find me building an elaborate croquembouche tower or baking fancy dainty macarons just because I want to eat some).
So, I made my own apple shortcrust turnovers and I could not do this without adding my own little twist to the recipe: a bit of grated tonka bean in the apple puree.
If you type ‘tonka’ on the search bar for this blog, you will find quite a few recipes, especially ones involving dark chocolate as they go so well together. After adding it to apple desserts, it turns out the unique flavour of this spice also goes really well with apples.
For my turnovers, I also wanted a buttery sweet shortcrust pastry and the one I share in the recipe below is really lovely. As well as turnovers, it would be perfect for tarts and tartlets.
Once the delicate discs of pastry were filled with apple and tonka puree and gently folded over and brushed with egg yolk, I just had to wait patiently for the turnovers to bake and turn golden in the oven, then cool down on a wire rack. The waiting was all worth it for I got to eat a delicious pastry just like I used to have in France. If you do not feel like waiting that long after the pastries are done, just cool them down a bit (I am not sure biting into super hot apple puree would be that great, it would probably burn your mouth) and serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or custard.
I ate my apple and tonka turnover with no added cream or custard on the side but accompanied with a large mug of blackcurrant infusion. Add to this a warm blanket and a good book for a very cosy autumnal afternoon tea.
Have you ever had apple turnovers? Do you prefer them with puff or shortcrust pastry? Feel free to share what your favourite Autumn apple desserts are in the comments. I would love to try this apple and tonka combination with other sweet things and I am open to suggestions.
Ingredients (for 8 turnovers)
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
250g sifted plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
50g sifted icing sugar
1 pinch salt*
125g diced cold butter*
2 large egg yolks (one to make the pastry + one for brushing)
30g cold water (plus extra to moisten the pastry)
For the apple and tonka puree
4 apples** (peeled, cored and cubed)
¼ grated tonka bean***
3 tablespoons water
1. Put the cubed apples, grated tonka bean and 3 tablespoons of water in a saucepan. Cover and cook over a medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes**, stirring every now and then with a wooden spoon (until the apples are soft - if the texture is still a little runny, continue cooking a bit until it is thicker). When cooked, the apples should be soft enough to mash with a fork or the back of the wooden spoon. I personally like to mix it to a very smooth puree with a blender but if you prefer your apple puree with a bit of texture skip this step. Transfer into a bowl and cool down completely before covering and putting in the fridge.
2. Put the sifted flour, sifted icing sugar and pinch of salt in a large baking bowl. Add the diced butter and mix with your fingers until you get a fine crumb. Make a well in the centre and mix in the egg yolk and cold water. Shape the dough into a ball (just make sure not to overwork the pastry), flatten it and wrap in clingfilm (or my preferred wrap: Bee’s Wrap, which is an alternative to plastic). Leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC Fan). Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Dust a large flat surface with a bit of flour and roll out the dough to 3mm thick. Using a 15cm round cutter (or a bowl and a small sharp knife like I did), cut the rounds from the pastry. Use the scraps and reshape into a ball, flatten it and roll it out again to 3mm thick to get more pastry rounds. You should be able to get 8 discs in total (with even a little bit of pastry leftover).
4. Put 2 teaspoons of apple and tonka puree in the centre of each pastry round. Moisten the edge with a bit of cold water. Delicately fold the pastry over and seal the edges with a fork (see photo above). Place the turnovers on the baking tray, brush the pastry with the remaining egg yolk and put on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer the pastries on a wire rack to cool down before serving.
I like to serve the apple and tonka shortcrust turnovers on their own with coffee and tea but a bit of whipped cream or custard would also be lovely to have with it.
* Only add the pinch of salt if the butter you use is unsalted. I like using salted butter even for desserts so I skipped the extra salt.
** The cooking time can vary depending on the type of apples you choose. I used the Cox variety ones as I love the taste and texture and find them perfect for cooking/baking. This variety also tends to cook a little faster than others. Also note that I do not use sugar in the apple puree since this type of apples is quite sweet already. If the ones you use are not as sweet, add a little bit of sugar to the mixture before cooking down to a puree.
*** If tonka bean is not a spice easy to find where you live, swap for the seeds of half a vanilla bean instead.