From Linda Cicero’s Cook’s Corner Column
Salted Caramel Apple Tartlets
For salted caramel sauce
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
For apple tartlets
1 sheet all-butter frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted in the refrigerator
2 apples, peeled
1 tablespoon melted butter
4 teaspoons sugar
Flaked sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling
To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook the sugar until it melts into syrup, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (NOT a metal spoon, which will get very hot).
Once the sugar is completely melted, let it cook undisturbed until it’s amber-colored. Lower the heat and very slowly dribble the cream into the pan.
The mixture will bubble up intensely, so be careful. When the bubbling subsides, bring the caramel to a simmer, whisking until any hardened lumps melt back into the sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the salt and butter until smooth. If you end up with a few stubborn pieces of hardened sugar, you can strain the sauce into a heatproof glass measuring cup.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to flatten slightly. Cut out 4 (5-inch diameter) circles with a pastry cutter or use the upside-down rim of a small bowl. Transfer the circles to an ungreased baking sheet. Cut the apples in half and remove the core. Slice each half crosswise into thin slices, keeping them together as you slice. Unfurl the slices onto each pastry circle, fanning them in a circular pattern to cover the dough. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the edges of the tarts are puffed and golden.
Reheat the caramel to pouring consistency, and spoon some over each tart. Sprinkle with a little flaked salt and serve warm. Makes 4 servings.
Note: You’ll have more caramel sauce than you need for the tarts, but it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks to use in any way you like.
Per serving: 380 calories (49 percent from fat), 21.4 g fat (11.7 g saturated, 7.2 g monounsaturated), 56 mg cholesterol, 1.7 g protein, 48 g carbohydrates, 2.3 g fiber, 384 mg sodium.