Honey-ginger apple tarts are rustic perfection. Flaky pastry crust, wrapped around a sweet-tart filling. And then everything is sprinkled with crushed cinnamon-sugar walnuts. See? Absolute perfection.
Croustade is just another way to say “rustic tart,” but it sounds good, doesn’t it? These individual croustades look so sweet on a dessert plate. And because they’re rustic, there’s no need to worry about shaping the pastry—just fold up a little border and you’re done. I take these a step beyond a simple fruit tart by sprinkling them with crunchy glazed spiced walnuts, but they’re perfectly lovely unadorned, too.-–Martha Holmberg
Honey-Ginger Apple Tarts
For the cinnamon-sugar walnuts
- 1/2 cup walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the tarts
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus about 2 tablespoons, melted, for glazing
- 1 1/4 pounds (about 5 medium) Braeburns or Fuji apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks to make about 5 cups
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 sheet (about 9 ounces) frozen puff pastry thawed
Make the cinnamon-sugar walnuts
- Line a plate with aluminum foil. Put the walnuts, sugar, and salt in a small skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar starts to melt but is not yet syrupy and the walnuts start to smell toasty. Don’t let the sugar caramelize. Pour the nuts onto the plate, sprinkle with the cinnamon, and let cool completely.
- Place the nuts in a heavy plastic bag and crush them with something heavy. You want mostly small pieces with a little powder. Taste and add more salt or cinnamon to taste.
Make the tarts
- Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add the apples and toss to coat. Saute until a lot of the moisture from the apples has evaporated and the apples just start to soften and turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the honey, ginger, cinnamon, and salt and toss to blend. Taste and add more of any of these flavorings, if desired. Set aside to cool.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll the pastry into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Cut into six 5-by-5-inch squares, then trim the corners of each square to make a rough round.
- Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Arrange the pastry rounds on a baking sheet and prick each one at 1/2-inch intervals. Divide the apple filling evenly among the pastry rounds, leaving about a 1/2-inch border of pastry. Wet the border with a little water and loosely pleat it to create an edge that embraces the apples. The pastry shouldn’t cover the center of the apple filling. Brush the edge of the pastry with some melted butter.
- Bake the tarts until the pastry is pale gold and set, about 18 minutes. Brush a little more butter onto the pastry and continue baking until the pastry is puffed and a rich golden brown on the border and undersides, another 5 to 7 minutes.
- Slide the tarts onto a cooling rack. Sprinkle each one with a heaping tablespoon cinnamon-sugar walnuts and let cool for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour before serving.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These are beautiful right out of the oven—and with a hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream, they’re divine. But even sans ice cream, they’re really tasty.
A tip–when baking, space them as far apart as you can, so the crusts can crisp up without steaming each other.
The taste was pleasant without being overly sweet. I might actually have added a little sugar to sweeten the taste. I couldn’t really taste the ginger and the taste of honey wasn’t overpowering either. The caramelized nuts were also very easy to make and the end result was very professional.
Overall I was surprised that these tarts were as easy to make as they were, considering how good they looked. If I was to make the tarts again I would probably cook the tarts for less than the initial 18 minutes-perhaps 15 minutes.
Talk about portion control, these cute and tasty little tarts are the perfect size for individual servings! They start out very tiny, but they definitely do puff up beautifully while they’re baking. We loved the honey, fresh ginger, and cinnamon flavoring with the apples. I usually cook the apple, butter, and sugar mixture together for my apple tart fillings, but just sautéing the apples with a little butter until they softened and the moisture evaporated, kept the apple chunks a little fresher tasting and not as saucy.
What I found most intriguing with this recipe was the cinnamon-sugar walnuts. Toasting the walnuts, sugar, and salt in a dry skillet seemed odd to me, but as this mixture heated up, the sugar became almost flour-like in texture and began to adhere to the nuts. The sugar started to darken up like the color of brown sugar before it got to the melting stage. It took 10 minutes before the sugar started to melt, so I immediately took it off heat, poured the nuts onto the foil-lined pan, and then sprinkled the cinnamon over. I nibbled a couple of nuts and they were nice and toasty with a sweet crunch.
It was also interesting that the cinnamon-sugar nuts weren’t sprinkled over the tarts until they came out of the oven, rather than cooked with the tarts. They were certainly very good with the crunchy nut mixture sprinkled over the tops after coming out of the oven, but I wish I had thought about putting some of the toppings on a couple of the tarts before they went into the oven just to see how that might work. Next time, I’ll try it that way just to see which I like better. Either way, you can’t go wrong with these beautiful little apple tarts!
I had planned on passing on this recipe because I thought I was out of puff pastry. Fate, however, intervened and I found one last sheet hiding in the freezer crying to become these tarts! I love rustic tarts and this proved to be no exception. It’s easy to put together and easy to enjoy. I added a little brown sugar and vanilla ice cream and it was practically perfect.
My print copy of the recipe didn’t end up covered in comments or questions, which is a very good sign. The timing was generally accurate. All in all, this was an easy recipe where the reward was certainly greater than the effort to produce it. Always a plus in my book!
These little rustic tarts are delicious and surprisingly light. The part of the recipe that stopped me in my tracks the after I sautéd the apples and added honey, freshly grated ginger, cinnamon, and salt and tossed to blend. The next step was tasting to adjust seasoning. After I tasted the cooked apples, I’d have been glad to stop there and eat as is. It was so good. But I forced myself to make the remainder of the recipe and serve it to my guests. They were grateful.
The finished product is a nice presentation. I did use the cinnamon-sugar walnuts and the crunch was a nice addition to the softened apple and puff pastry. I added a scoop of good quality ice cream resulting in a wonderful dessert.
Originally published April 25, 2008