Recipe Road Test: "Half Baked Harvest Super Simple" Easiest Cinnamon-Apple Tarts

Seira Wilson on January 14, 2020

CinnamonAppleTarts_RecipePhoto_225W.jpgTieghan Gerard's Half Baked Harvest Super Simple is one of our top picks for the best cookbooks of 2019, and her Easiest Cinnamon-Apple Tarts (photo at right) is one of my favorite recipes so far.  I love pastries--particularly if there is apple involved--and I really appreciate that Gerard's definition of easy and simple matches up to mine. 

I generally steer clear of using puff pastry, but this recipe calls for store bought sheets and the assembly of the tarts required minimal time and skill.  I was a little worried before I put my tarts in the oven: were they going to look remotely like the recipe photo?  How the hell did Gerard get so many apple slices onto her pastry squares?  These are the things I think about... 

CinnamonAppleTarts_RecipePhoto_225H_SW.jpgBut all was forgotten when I pulled the tarts (photo at left) out of the oven and we dug into their flaky, sweet, goodness.  Not only do Easiest Cinnamon-Apple Tarts make a fast and delicious dessert, but I set a couple aside and wrapped them up to have with my morning coffee the next day. So. Good.

Below is the recipe from Half Baked Harvest Super Simple, a cookbook I've found myself using over and over. Highly recommended.

Note: I used Brown Sugar Bourbon from a  local distillery where the recipe calls for brandy or bourbon.  Gerard also suggests ice cream alongside if so desired, and I'd add to that a plug for homemade whipped cream, made especially delicious when flavored with a slug of the aforementioned BSB. 

Easiest Cinnamon-Apple Tarts from Half Baked Harvest Super Simple
Serves 6

PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes

I might be judged for saying this, but I can live with that. . . . Why would you spend time making pastry dough when there’s a perfect version available at the supermarket? It’s truthfully so good, I keep it stocked in my freezer at all times. Here, I use it to make these cute little apple tarts, which are a true favorite among everyone who’s had them. I recommend using smaller apples—that way half an apple will fit into each tart, allowing you to create a fanned look. It won’t make a difference in the taste, but it sure is pretty (and we all know pretty food might actually taste just a little bit better). I love these warm, right out of the oven. And while it’s definitely not necessary, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is a great idea with these tarts.

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon brandy or bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (see Note)
2 large or 3 small Honeycrisp apples, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, butter, brandy, vanilla, and cinnamon.

3. Cut the puff pastry sheet into 6 equal rectangles and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the sugar mixture onto each square.

4. Arrange the apple slices, skin side up, on each piece of pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry inward, pressing to seal the corners. Evenly drizzle the remaining sugar mixture on the apples. Brush the edges of pastry with the melted butter.

5. Bake until the pastry is golden and the apples are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve the tarts warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Store any leftovers at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

If you forget to thaw your pastry in the fridge, you can place the pastry in the microwave to thaw (leave it in the paper bag, but take it out of the box). Simply heat it in 1-minute intervals on power level 1, flipping the pastry over after each minute, until it is almost thawed. Thawing time will vary depending on the strength of your microwave, but it usually takes me 2 to 3 minutes to thaw one sheet.

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