Monday, January 24, 2011
Chaussons aux Pommes (or Apple Turnovers)
If I had to name the one food-item I miss the most about France, it would have to be the 'boulangeries' at almost every street corner. Growing up, no Sunday meal would be complete without a trip to our local bakery to pick up a fresh - and warm when we were lucky- baguette and a couple chaussons aux pommes, pains aux raisins and pains au chocolat for breakfast. Every time I go back home and visit my parents, the first thing I do is head for my neighborhood market, with a mandatory trip to the boulangerie. I really miss having access to homemade baked bread so close to home - there are bakeries around Montreal, but the French in me never finds them quite as good as the ones at home.
Chausson aux pommes have always been one of my favorites. This buttery, flaky puff pastry semicircle filled with apple compote is pretty close to perfection. This recipe makes an easy make-at home version, made with triangular pieces of puff pastry and chunky apple sauce. These gorgeous treats are then puffed up in the oven until golden. These are perfect to enjoy for a nice afternoon snack or to start out the day. The best thing about them though, is that they freeze wonderfully well. Place a couple chaussons in freezable bags, brush with egg wash and cook straight from frozen when you're ready for a nice homemade fruity treat. I love this type of cooking - you put a little effort in now, and your freezer is then filled with goodies to enjoy at a later time.
Chaussons Aux Pommes
2 10x10 inch sheets of frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Granulated sugar, to dust the chaussons
6 golden delicious apples
1 knob of butter
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Thaw the puff pastry according to package instructions.
Make the compote. Peel, core and cut the apples into bite-size chunks. In a small pan on medium low heat, add the apples, butter and sugar. Stir until the butter is melted and the sugar coats the apples. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice and cook for 10 minutes or until the chunks of apples have softened. Remove from the heat, and using a pestle or large spoon, break down the larger pieces of apples. The compote should be think and still chunky. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 375F. Lay out a puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Cut the squares into 3 lengthwise strips, and cut each sheet into 3 rectangles (you can cut them into 2 rectangles for bigger chaussons). Cut each rectangle in half diagonally, to form triangles. Place about 2 tablespoons of compote at the center of of one triangle, and top with the other, making sure the compote doesn't spill. Using a fork, press down the pastry to seal the top triangle with the bottom one. Repeat with all the triangles, and repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the top triangle with egg wash. Using a small knife, lightly score a crisscross pattern on the top of the triangle and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake on a parchment-line baking sheet for 10-12 minutes or until the triangles are golden and crisp.
Tip: If you find that the puff pastry if not as golden as you would want it, broil the chaussons for 1-2 minutes until golden. Keep a constant eye on the oven if you do this as they will go from perfect to burnt very fast!