desserts

Cinnamon Apple Tarts

If you haven't already realized or, if you are new to my blog, I'm all about delicious but simple and stress-free recipes and meals.  I eat most foods but, in this space, you'll find a bit healthier recipes.  I'm out to prove that healthier meals can be delicious, that they don't equal deprivation AND that they don't have to be complicated.  And, seeing as my background is in mainly wellness, exercise and sports nutrition (both adult and pediatric), my recipes are all created with this theme in mind.  I have a few principles that I follow when thinking up dinners,  principles that work whether I am cooking for one, cooking for the family, or cooking for an entire house of guests.  I won't go into detail about them today but I can tell you that following these is what allows me to create balance and keep flavor at our table each week.  These principles are getting summed up in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy today's recipe, these Cinnamon Apple Tarts, that are just sweet enough, light enough and simple enough to make the menu of many celebratory and more time-consuming meals. 

A little story behind their creation...

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These apple cinnamony treats came about when Kyle and I were having my Bible Study leader and her husband over for dinner.  I have been in her Bible Study for probably about 5 years to the point that she is like family.  She even flew up to Memphis to attend my mom's funeral, a woman she had never met.  I got to know her husband through being at their house every other week for Bible Study and through our church.  After I met Kyle, they welcomed him into their lives, joining us for dinners and brunches and lending words of wisdom when we needed it.  Her husband actually ended up being one of the ministers that married us.  So, with all of this to say, these were some very special dinner guests.  That night I, with Kyle as my sous chef :) , made some of my favorite dishes - a Roasted Beef Tenderloin with a Rosemary Chocolate and Wine Sauce (thank you, Ellie Krieger!!  This dish is delicious and one of my favorites for special occasions and entertaining!), roasted root veggies, spinach and brown butter gnocchi and a mixed greens salad.  This might sound complicated but it fits perfectly with those "Three Principles for Simplified Dinners".

For these tarts - the key to preparing them is pulling the pastry dough out of the freezer before dinner begins because they need about 40ish minutes to thaw.  You can either have your apples already sliced or do a quick slice after dinner before throwing them in the oven.  On this particular occasion, I had the pastry thawing and then, as everyone was taking their last bites of dinner, I tucked away into the kitchen, assembled the tarts (using apples I had sliced before dinner) and then baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes while I joined the rest of the conversation.  When they were done I broiled them for just a minute and then plated them and served each with a ramekin of cold and creamy Blue Bell vanilla bean ice cream (everything is better with Blue Bell in this house).  They were simple and light, the perfect ending to a satisfying and filling meal.

So, here you go - my recipe for Cinnamon Apple Tarts.  I hope they bring your future dinners many happy endings :)

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

CINNAMON APPLE TARTS: A LIGHT, FLAKEY & SUBTLY SWEET DESSERT

Makes 18 tarts 

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 6 rectangles of a puff pastry sheet, thawed for about 45 minutes

  • 1 red apple (like golden delicious)

  • 1/2 green apple (like granny smith)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • pinch of regular sugar

  • 4 teaspoons honey

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and dust a baking sheet with flour.

2. Using 6 of the long rectangular sheets of puff pastry, cut each into 3 smaller squares (should end up with 18 squares).

3. Slice each apple in half. Then, place cut side of each apple half on cutting board cut into another half lengthwise, along the length of the core. Keeping apple in that same position, begin slicing from the side you just cut, inwards. Repeat with each section of apple so that you have 32 red apple slices and 16 green apple slices.

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4. Layer the top of each pastry square with 3 apple slices - 2 red and 1 green.

5. Drizzle apple slices with half of the honey and sprinkle with cinnamon (I really just eyeball the honey I drizzle on each tart. Don't stress about being super precise - just have fun drizzling a little over each tart, saving enough to drizzle each again in a little bit!)

6. Place the pastry squares on the baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes.

7. At 8 minutes, remove the tarts, drizzle with remainder of the honey and bake for about 5 - 8 minutes more.

8. After baking, remove tarts from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Sprinkle each tart with a little granulated sugar and place under the broiler for about 30 to 60 seconds until the tops are browned and caramelized.. Make sure to watch them so they don't burn!

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9. Remove finished tarts from the oven and let sit a moment while you scoop out ice cream, pour your coffee, or put together whatever you choose to serve them with :)

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10. Serve and enjoy!

SERVE IT AGAIN!

Store any uneaten tarts in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  When ready to eat again, remove from fridge and place on foil or baking sheet.  Reheat in a preheated 350 F oven for about 10 minutes.

Breakfast anyone?  While not the best pre or post - exercise breakfast, these make a great accompaniment if hosting a big weekend brunch or they serve as perfect leisurely weekend homemade pastry.

Dark Chocolate Grahams

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I have recently discovered a new found love for graham crackers.  I think this discovery fully unveiled itself due to my husband's serious love of fro yo.  Yep, fro yo.  One of those discoveries you make in marriage I guess, ha.  Can't say I can complain :)  I have started keeping a box of graham crackers in the pantry for our frequent fro yo outings.  Seems odd, I know, but I do this so that I can have a crunchy non-chocolate topping for my yogurt.  The place by our house, and many others, only have granola as a non-chocolate option and it is usually chocked full of almonds or other nuts.  So I have resorted to bringing my own toppings (which I often pair with dark chocolate chips, my favorite) or I have them ready to crush on top when we bring it back to the house.  To be clear, I don't have a severe nut allergy that prevents me from eating products made in facilities that may have produced nuts and if a nut touched something I was eating I would be fine.  However, ever since I turned about 29 or 30, give me a handful of nuts or a couple of tablespoons of almond granola and my face gets red and splotchy and itchy.  So, I'll pass on the nuts, thanks.  Oiy.

Anyway... these yummy bites I'm sharing today are an unplanned result of these graham crackers I keep stocked and a surplus of melted chocolate left over after another recipe I was trying to make failed.  While semi-frantically trying to figure out what the heck to do with all of the melted chocolate before it cooled down, I remembered that box of graham crackers tucked away in the pantry.  Funny how sometimes our best or favorite ideas come out of not having a plan at all or from another idea's failure. I often find life making me want to forget this and I constantly have to remind myself of those failed attempts that have lead to something much better.  It keeps me reaching out and trying new things, fighting that fear of failure.

These particular treats started simple with dark chocolate on graham crackers.  Then I realized I had pumpkin seeds in my drawer.  Then I remembered my cinnamon granola.  Perfect!  These guys are crunchy but smooth,  sweet but salty and, of course, chocolatey.

Fast-forward a few weeks when I wanted to make a Halloween treat while, at the same time, trying to think of what else I could do with the chocolate grahams.  I basically asked myself, "What foods are Halloween colors?" and chose my ingredients from there (not crazy complex).  Can't say I've ever been a huge fan of the orange and dark chocolate combo and I usually can leave coconut alone.  However, despite my hesitancy, they were the colors I needed so I committed to giving it a try.

Let me tell you, friends, I'm so glad that I did.  They are not my usual sweet, but I will absolutely make them again! They are different and unique.  The dark chocolate is very rich and bold and the coconut and orange really balance it out so that there isn't one flavor that overwhelms.  The coconut shavings are unsweetened so lend a sort of mild sweetness to balance out some of the bitterness of the dark chocolate.  The orange zest makes these little guys lighter with that pop of citrus mixed in.  So fun and yummy!  

Stay tuned because they will probably be making an appearance again come Christmas, and maybe every other holiday to come.  But for now, here are the details on my dark chocolate grahams, both regular and Halloween.

Happy Halloween & Happy Fueling!

Taylor

Dark chocolate grahams

Ingredients:

  • 5 - 8 full graham cracker sheets (will be 20 - 32 grahams)

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (65% cocoa or greater)

  • Toppings for Halloween Grahams:

    • 2 tablespoons orange zest (from 2 naval oranges) - see pic below

    • 1 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut - see pic below

  • Toppings for Pumpkin Granola Grahams:

    • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

    • 1/4 - 1/2 cup granola

 

Directions:

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1. Use the zest of 2 large oranges (this came out to about 2 tablespoons)

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2. Prep 1 tablespoon of shredded unsweetened coconut.

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3. Prep your grahams on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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4. Make a double boiler by adding about 1 inch of water to a large pot.

5. Turn the heat to medium or medium-high and place a heat-proof bowl over the pot (make sure bottom of bowl does't touch the water).

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6. Place your chocolate chips in the bowl.

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7. Stir the chocolate chips as they begin to melt. I stir pretty continuously to make sure I don't burn the chocolate.

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8. Once the chocolate is melted, turn off the burner.

9. Use a small spoon to spoon out about 1 - 2 teaspoons of melted chocolate and spread over each graham. Or dip sides into the chocolate for different patterns!

10. Top with shredded coconut and orange zest.

WANT TO MIX IT UP?

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Try other variations like this one below, using pumpkin seeds and granola.  

Dried cherries would also be really good on it with pumpkins seeds - maybe around Christmas time (got the red and green thing happening).  Or you could, of course do crushed peppermint, which I bet would also be super yummy.

NUTRITION NOTES:

Dark Chocolate: flavonols (the darker the chocolate the higher the content), iron, magnesium, copper, manganese

Orange Zest: vitamin C

Coconut: fiber

Pumpkin Seeds: protein, vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, manganese, fiber

Granola (I used KIND Cinnamon with Flax Seeds): protein, fiber, healthy fat (the flaxseeds contain omega-3's)