When a colleague told me they had just popped the question and gotten engaged, my baker’s brain kicked in and I came up with these Cinnamon Apple Cheesecake Tarts to celebrate their wonderful news. Knowing they weren’t into crazy sweet confections, what I came up are like a upmarket cross between an apple tart and homemade Cinnabons. Between the crisp cinnamon pastry, vanilla cheesecake filling and poached apple, you get a happy marriage of warmth, tartness and fruity sweetness. And I can hardly describe how utterly delicious they are if you eat them with the breath of the oven still on them…
The inspiration for these tarts came from the memory of when Mary-Anne Boermans, finalist of the second season of The great British Bake Off wowed the nation with her Apple Rose Tarts. I’m quite sure the whole nation gasped in amazement as the episode aired when she presented them to the judges. It was remarkable to see how effective it was to simply roll up a long line of poached apple slices to form a very old English looking rose. Using red apples definitely adds to the visual appeal as it seeps into the flesh of the apple giving that blushing pink hue. Whilst the appearance of my version is most definitely inspired by Mary-Anne’s, the recipe is my own. I couldn’t think of a more romantic bake to celebrate such lovely news.
- 100 g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 50 g soft butter
- 2 tsp icing sugar
- 1-2 tbsp cold water
- 35 g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 35 g full fat cream cheese
- 35 g sour cream
- Seeds from a vanilla pod
- 1 rounded tbsp plain flour
- 3 large red apples Pink Ladies or Royal Gala work well
- 4 heaped tbsp caster sugar
- 1 quill cinnamon
- 1 vanilla pod
Make the pastry first.
Place all the pastry ingredients in a food processor apart from the water and pulse until you have a sandy texture. Dribble in 1 tsp cold water at a time, pulsing to bring the dough together as a ball. Tip out and wrap in cling, refrigerating for 30 minutes to firm up the butter. (You may of course do this by hand).
Roll the pastry out to 2mm thick on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of cling film and cut out circles about 2cm larger than the wells in your chosen tin and gently press in without stretching the pastry. When all 12 done, place in the fridge to chill as you prepare the filling and apples.
Fill a large sauce pan with 1.5 litres of water plus all the poaching ingredients, bar the apples. Half and core the apples preserving as much flesh as you can then slice about 1mm thick into half moons. Add to the poaching liquid and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes until the apples are tender. Lift one out when you think they are ready then allow to cool briefly before trying to roll it up. If it doesn’t, then cook for an extra couple of minutes and check again.
Drain the apples, reserving the poaching liquid and fishing out the vanilla pod – take half of it and return to the saucepan you cooked the apples in. Bring up to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until thick and syrupy and much reduced (to a few tbsps). Reserve until the tarts are cooked.
Preheat oven to 200⁰C with a rack in the centre of the oven.
Beat all the cheesecake filling ingredients together including scraping out the seeds of the vanilla pod. These must be at room temperature or they will be lumpy. Fill the pastry cases half full, no more, with it.
Line up about 12 slices of apple per tart. Do this by placing one down on a chopping board or clean work surface and overlapping another by half it’s length and repeating until you’ve used 12 slices.
When all of them are laid out, confidently roll up one line of apples at a time to form a tight rosette– try to do it in one syncopated manoeuvre and it will be much easier! Transfer immediately to the tarts and ensure they are sitting 1-2mm into the filling. The roses will unfurl as they bake and the cheesecake mix will puff up a little around the leaves.
Bakes for 22-25 minutes until some petals are a little burnished, the cheesecake filling has set and the pastry is crisp and dry to the touch.
Cool on a rack in the tin for 5 minutes then carefully remove the tarts and brush with the reduced apple syrup. Delectable to eat still warm but will keep for 2 days in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving. And left over apple is delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some of the leftover syrup or some caramel sauce mmm!
If not using the Nordic Ware Tartlette tin, then use a standard muffin pan but expect to only make 9-10 out of the pastry and filling. The tartlettes are much smaller than a muffin cup but a little larger than a fairy cake/bun tin. They will therefore take a few minutes more to cook through. Do let me know what you used and how you got on.
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