Apple tart is a dessert that I never get tired of making – or eating. Chunky ones, thin ones, fancy ones, rustic ones, I love them all. This is one of my old favorites, taught to me by 3-star Michelin chef Nico Ladenis at his London restaurant. Nico is known for his strict devotion to the French classics and his unwillingness to tinker with perfection. This is, therefore, the perfect individual apple tart. It is in the French tarte fine style, which always means very delicate, thin slices of fruit.
Makes 8 Tarts
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
6 to 8 Granny Smith or other tart, firm apples
½ cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Unroll or unfold the pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry out, pressing lightly, until very thin, less than 1/8-inch thick. (If the pastry seems to be getting too soft and delicate, transfer to a sheet pan and chill 30 minutes, then return to the work surface.) Use a biscuit cutter or an downturned glass to cut out eight 3 ½-inch disks. Line a sheet pan with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper, or use a heavyweight nonstick sheet pan. Arrange the disks on the pan. Keep refrigerated.
Peel, core, and halve the apples. Slice the apple halves very, very thinly (if you have a mandoline, use it). Toss the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Cut the butter into 16 reasonably equal chunks. Place a chunk of butter in the center of a pastry disk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Stack the apple slices in an overlapping spiral pattern around the butter, starting with the larger slices and working your way up with smaller ones. Every inch or so, sprinkle the apples with cinnamon sugar. Each finished tart should be about 3 inches high and be shaped like a beehive or igloo. Place another chunk of butter on the top. Repeat with remaining apples and pastry disks and sprinkle all the tarts liberally one more time with cinnamon sugar. Keep refrigerated until ready to bake.*
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the tarts until golden brown and tender, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
* The recipe can be made up to this point and refrigerated for 8 hours, or frozen for up to 2 weeks.