Friends in the right places
Recently my friend Ken Gordon (of Gordon’s DTX fame) handed me a half-full bottle of Rattlesnake Rosie’s Apple Pie Corn Whiskey and asked me to “make something with it.” Thinking hard, I remembered that I had once made a Port Wine Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread for pairing at a North Shore Whiskey Club scotch tasting, so I decided to replace the port with the whiskey and see what would happen. What came out of that grand experiment was Apple Pie whiskey caramel sauce, and the heavens opened and the angels sang, it was that good!
The next question was what to put the Apple Pie whiskey caramel sauce on…not any ole’ baked good would do. Since I had been thinking about the desserts I was making for Thanksgiving the following week, I had Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Cranberry Almond Apple Pie top of mind. “Aha!” I thought (yup, I actually thought that, though I didn’t say it aloud…that would be weird), “I have puff pastry and a bit of almond paste in my freezer, what about an Apple Almond Caramel Tart?” My plan was a two-step process: first make the caramel sauce, then assemble the tart. And so I began…
(Side note: isn’t this how most great recipe ideas come about, with an inner monologue? No? Maybe it’s just me)
First up, the caramel…
Apple Pie Whiskey Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Epicurious
- 1-1/2 cups Rattlesnake Rosie’s Apple Pie Corn Whiskey (or your wine or spirit of choice)
- 2 cups (14oz, 400g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 Tbsp (3oz, 85ml) heavy cream, warmed
- Boil liquor in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 2 1/2-to 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber.
- While sugar is boiling, heat heavy cream until tepid (about 1 minute in the microwave on HIGH)
- Add reduced liquor (BE CAREFUL – mixture will bubble up and steam) and swirl pan. Add warmed cream and simmer, swirling pan again, until incorporated.
- Continue to simmer, stirring continuously, until a candy thermometer registers 238°F.
- Remove from heat and cool to 200°F.
- You can use any type of full-flavored wine or spirit you’d like. The original recipe called for red wine, and I’ve used a port wine as well. Just remember that since the spirit will be reduced, the flavor will intensify.
- Make sure to wash down the sides of the pan while sugar dissolves and swirl pan during caramelization of the sugar
- When adding reduced liquor, add to pan and swirl (don’t stir). Same with heavy cream
- You need to continuously stir the caramel while bringing up to temperature or mixture will bubble up
- Makes about 2 cups of delicious caramel!
And now, for the tart…
Apple Almond Caramel Tart
Adapted from SeeandSavour.com
- 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted but still cold
- ½ package Odense Almond Paste
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 Tbsp cinnamon sugar (I make my own using 1:3 parts cinnamon to 3 parts sugar. You can make yours to taste)
- Pinch of salt
- Egg Wash: 1 egg, beaten + 1 Tbsp water
- Apple Pie Whiskey Caramel Sauce, warmed
- Preheat oven for 400°F
- Thinly slice the apple. I used a mandolin slicer to get nice thin cuts…just BE VERY CAREFUL when using a mandolin and always use the food guard. Otherwise you can take off the top of your finger (and I have!)
- Mix the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon sugar, and salt together in a bowl and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Cut puff pastry in half (if you prefer less puff part you could cut in three parts, which is what I did) and place on a non-stick baking sheet.
- Put almond paste pieces on the puff pastry sheet to about 1” of the edges. I tried to roll out the almond paste (a fun experience, to be sure) before putting it on the puff pastry…you can spread it as you see fit.
- Arrange apple slices along the puff pastry in a line stacking the apples as you go. Brush edges with egg wash.
- Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove pan from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool.
- Put tarts on a cutting board and drizzle caramel sauce on top. Slice with a knife or pizza cutter into 1″ strips.
- Puff Pastry can be super easy, yet super frustrating, to use. It warms very quickly, and warm = stretchy
- Put the COLD puff pastry on baking sheets before topping them – trying to move them after topping them just makes a mess
- Brush the pastry edges with egg washfor extra shine. Not strictly necessary, but still…
- If you want, you can sprinkle a bit of coarse sugar for extra crunch on the tarts before baking.
- Remember, no matter how it looks, this Apple Almond Caramel Tart will taste great!
One taste of the Apple Pie whiskey caramel sauce…wow! Intense apple pie spices, almost like a caramel apple (without the apple itself). Drizzled on the spicy, sweet, flaky tart…yummmm! My friends at Gordon’s Whiskey Wednesday enjoyed the Apple Almond Caramel tart, especially since it paired well with the bourbon we were sampling.
You can experiment with whatever flavorful wine or spirit you have on hand to make the caramel sauce. The hardest part is figuring out what to put it on…tarts, ice cream, scones, or maybe just eat it with a spoon (not that I have ever done that). Have any extra sauce? Jar it up and share with a friend…it makes a great gift, and guaranteed that whatever you serve it on will be memorable!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!