Autumn is for Apples

By Jeanne Winnick Brennan

“I love this apple tart recipe because it allows you to make something that looks and tastes extraordinary without having to spend an extraordinary amount of time making it,” says Cris McKone, a Gold River resident and instructor at Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. “My students are always looking for quick alternatives to traditional recipes, and this terrific, fresh apple dessert is it.”

McKone, who has been teaching at the co-op for five years, really enjoys the informal, hands-on classes. She’s looking forward to teaching several times a month at the co-op’s new Elk Grove store, with its roomy kitchen and latest appliances.

McKone credits her mother with teaching her to love good food, which she hopes she has passed on to her children. “I grew up in a 100-percent Italian home, where you don’t just grab food and take off,” she says. “It’s about sitting down and eating together, especially when your mom has made everything from scratch with natural-tasting ingredients like mine did.”

McKone says that while she may not have appeared interested in cooking as a young girl, she paid attention when her mom cooked. “Even though I didn’t ask her a lot of questions,” says McKone, “I was watching.”

Autumn Apple Tarts

1 sheet (1/2 pound) frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored and sliced very thin
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 teaspoons honey vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or crème fraîche

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Using a small plate as a guide, cut out four 7-inch rounds. Transfer two rounds to each prepared sheet; cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to one day.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the apple slices on the pastry rounds, overlapping them slightly. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Drizzle the apples with the melted butter.

Bake tarts until pastry is golden and apples are tender, about 25 minutes. Drizzle each tart with one teaspoon of honey. Transfer tarts to cooling racks; cool 10 minutes. (If you wish, you can sprinkle additional sugar over the apples after baking, then caramelize with a kitchen torch to add crunch and color.) Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream, sweetened whipped cream or whipped crème fraîche. Makes 4 individual tarts.