Recipes

Apple and Almond Puffs

Christmas is looming and I’m already beginning to feel anxious about mince pies. Why do they bother me so? They’re a perfectly harmless foodstuff, fit for all social gatherings and positively oozing tradition. Is it the latent maverick in me wanting to cock a snook at the respectable mince pie family, or are they… whisper it… actually not as good company as they make out? A bit precious? Well, here’s my counter-tart, my mince pie subversion tactic. Plus, you don’t have to wait for Christmas. Eat them whenever you darn well fancy! Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall!

This is really more of a knee jerk reaction than an actual recipe, which sprang out of the store-cupboard, and packet of puff pastry I had in the freezer. It would also work well with other dried fruit like chopped apricots, figs, or cranberries. You might want to experiment with spices, too – eg cinnamon is super with apricots; or mixed spice with extra clove for a more Christmassy flavour. You can also add freshly grated ginger and/extra crystallised ginger if you like the kick.

Ingredients

  • pack of puff pastry; 2oz (50g); light brown sugar 2oz; (50g) ground almonds; 2oz (50g) sultanas (or other dried fruit); 1tsp ground ginger (or other ground spices); 2 large Bramley apples (or 3 dessert apples); icing sugar or demerara sugar for sprinkling

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (fan 170°C). Get ready a 12-cup tart tin (it shouldn’t need greasing).
  2. Mix the sugar, ground almonds, spice and dried fruit in a large bowl. Roll out the pastry thinly and cut into 12 squares, approx 3.5 inches or 9cm square. (You’ll have plenty of leftover pastry for cheese straws.) Press the pastry squares into the tart tin ready for the filling.
  3. Quickly peel the apples and grate into the bowl with the other ingredients. Use a julienne grater if you have one (my favourite is the Kuhn Rikon Julienne Mandoline), or a coarse cheese grater. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients together, squeezing as you go to form a firm wodge.
  4. Divide the filling equally between the pastry cases, pressing each mound into the tin. Brush the pastry edges with milk, then fold up like an envelope, opposite corners in to overlap in the middle, and pinching the diagonal edges together to seal. Either dust with icing sugar or brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 20–25 minutes until well risen and golden brown.
  5. Put the tin on a cooling rack and allow to cool for a few minutes, then give each puff a gentle twist before removing from the tin. Serve warm with ice cream or crème fraîche, or cold as a snack. Wonderful with mulled wine!

Comments

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These look delicious.  I have a load of plums and rhubarb in the freezer, do you think I could do something similar with those?

By Leila Hodgkins on January 18 2013

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Give it a go, Leila! The only thing I’d be slightly wary about is that plums and rhubarb are a lot damper than Bramley apples, so you might want to increase the dried vine fruit (raisins and sultanas take in moisture very well, whereas figs and apricots are less absorbent), and also increase the almond a tad, which helps soak up the moisture. Instead of squidging it all together, do it in layers, starting with the ground almond on the bottom. Then thinnish wedges of plums or slices of rhubarb, then your sugar (not too much with sweet plums), then dried fruit and top with another sprinkling of ground almond before you seal it up. That way the almond will sit next to the pastry top and bottom and stop the pastry going soggy. Ginger and rhubarb is a fabulous combination, and I’d be tempted to use sultanas rather than raisins or currants with rhubarb because sultanas are better at carrying other flavours whereas darker fruits tend to impose their own flavour.

Oh heck! It hardly matters, just play with the idea and whatever you have in the cupboard!

By Liz on January 18 2013

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Thanks, Liz!  You’re really an expert.  I was worried about using my frozen fruit for the very reason you highlight ie. it’s a bit soggy.  Those are great tips and I’ll definitely give it a try.

By Leila Hodgkins on January 18 2013

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Please let me know how you get on! I always reckon that the fun part of cooking is simply giving it a go. Afterwards, if the recipe is not worth sharing, then the story probably is….

By Liz on January 18 2013

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