Apple-Almond Rose Tartlets

Gluten-Free Apple Rose Tartlets

As any true foodie knows, experiencing food is like experiencing the world; it takes not just one sense, but a unique blend of all the senses. Autumn is not just in the changing color of the trees— it is in the sound of crunching leaves, in the feel of a chill morning breeze, in the smell of  warm spices. And eating is much the same. The art of eating involves more than just spectacular taste; it involves tantalizing scent and awe-inspiring visual presentation.

I have often heard individuals say that the look of food does not matter. And to this I object. The visual appearance of a food actually intensifies the eating experience. Visual cues are often the first source of information our brain receives, and it is this information that actually primes our taste buds. When you eat a purple-colored candy that tastes like cherry, you will experience an odd sensation because the information your eyes receive (purple) does not match the taste you anticipate (you expect purple candies to taste like grape and red candies to taste like cherry). So yes, appearance does matter. We eat not just with our taste buds, but with our eyes as well.

Gluten-Free Apple Rose Tartlets

In the gluten-free world, the visual appearance of food is often disappointing. Bread is gnarled, cookies are lumpy, pies are cracked. But it does not have to be this way. I assure you that gluten-free desserts can be impressive. You do not need wheat or a culinary degree to create beautiful baked goods. Even gluten-free treats want to dress to impress. And here’s one way to do it: Apple-Almond Rose Tartlets.

Gluten-Free Apple Rose Tartlets

With a beautiful rose decoration made of fresh apple slices, these tartlets are sure to create awe even before they can be tasted. But their taste, of course, will make them even more spectacular. A tender, almond-hinted shortcrust pastry surrounds a creamy almond custard filling and sweet, poached apple top. Pink Lady apples are perfect for the poaching process as their pink hue gives a wonderful rosy color to the fruit slices. An apple syrup brushing on the top imparts a beautiful finish and a delicious sweetness to the slightly tart apples, providing a perfect blend of fresh fruit and sweet taste. These little gems did not survive past Thanksgiving day for us, and I assure you that they will be just as popular in your house as well!

Apple-Almond Rose Tartlets
Yield: 12 tartlets

1 ½ cups GF Flour Mix*
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
2 Tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt
½ cup butter, cold
2 egg yolks, beaten
½ teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a standard-sized muffin tin.

Combine flour, xanthan gum, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add in chilled butter, pulsing until a crumbly, coarse meal forms. Add egg yolks and  almond extract  in three additions, pulsing until dough comes together in a ball. Remove dough and knead together (the dough should be as malleable as play dough. If it is not wet enough, add some water; if too wet, knead in some more flour).

Gather dough and roll out on a piece of plastic wrap to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out dough into rounds to match size of the muffin tins. Line tins with dough. Prick bottoms of crust with a fork, and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Poached Apples
3-4 Pink Lady apples
2 cups apple juice
1 cup sugar

Cut apples into quarters and then into thin, vertical slices.

Combine sugar and apple juice in a medium-sized pan and bring to a simmer. Place apple slices in apple juice and simmer 5 minutes, or until tender (I did mine in 3 separate batches to ensure even cooking). Remove apple slices from liquid with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain/cool.

Continue to simmer apple juice over medium-high heat until mixture thickens to a syrup, about 20-25 minutes. Set aside.

Almond Custard
2 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
½ cup cream
Zest of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon GF Flour Mix*

Beat egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until thick/pale. Beat in cream, zest, and extracts. Whisk a few tablespoons of custard into flour and then combine flour mixture with rest of filling (prevents flour from clumping and ensures even distribution).

Fill each tartlet shell with 1-2 tablespoons of filling. For the rose decoration, lay out ten slices of poached apple in a straight line with each slice overlapping half of the previous one. Starting at left side, roll up the line of apple slices into a rose shape and gently place in filling. Repeat for each tartlet. Bake 20 minutes, or until crust begins to brown (filling will still be slightly liquid). Remove and let cool.

Brush rose tops with apple syrup and chill tartlets for about 2 hours to allow custard to set.

*GF Flour Mix
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch

10 thoughts on “Apple-Almond Rose Tartlets

  1. wowwww these look gorgeous! Would it be possible to show a couple pictures on how to for the apples into the rose please? Or a bit further explanation on it? 🙂

    • Parisa, I wanted to post a little tutorial on the apple roses, but I haven’t had a chance to take photos yet! But I found this blog particularly useful in explaining the process:

      She shows a picture of how to line up the apple slices, which is really the biggest part you need to know. Rolling them up is a little awkward, as they like to slide apart, but you can easily adjust them once they are placed in the tart. If you need any more guidance, just let me know and I can put something together!

  2. I am not gluten free and neither are my family. I would like to make these for our Holiday table because they are stunning. Is the measurements for the GF flour mix cup for cup with regular flour? And the xanthan gum, can it be omitted if using regular flour?

    • Tasha, to make the crust with regular flour, eliminate the xanthan gum and one of the egg yolks (gluten-free flours tend to absorb more liquid and benefit from extra binding, which is why I used 2 egg yolks). If you find that the dough is a bit on the dry side, just add a tiny bit of ice water. So basically the recipe will be:

      1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      2 Tablespoons sugar
      pinch salt
      1/2 cup cold butter
      1 egg yolk
      1/2 tsp almond extract
      (ice water, as needed)

      And for the custard, just use 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour in place of the GF Flour Mix. I hope your family enjoys these tartlets as much as we did!

  3. Man that looks so beautiful! Do you think I could make this in a tart pan or a pie plate, say 8-9inch? I like the muffin tin idea, but it’s even better when you have multiple ways of making the same recipe great recipe. I don’t have a mandolin tool to cut the apples, as long as I cut them super thin with a knife is it still doable? Thanks for any suggestions in advance. 😀

  4. Oh… And I forgot to ask, Can I use coconut milk (unsweetened) to replace the cream? I’m lactose intolerant and I’ve replaced many recipes with it with great success, but it’s always better to ask than assume. Haha. thanks so much!

    • Hi, April – You can certainly make this into a 8-9″ pie, though I would suggest doubling the recipe for the almond custard to make sure you have enough. And no worries if you don’t have a mandolin – I don’t either! All you need is a sharp knife to slice the apples very thin.

      Finally, although I have not tried it, I believe the creamy texture of unsweetened coconut milk would work splendidly in this recipe. But I’d love to hear how it turns out for you! Happy baking!

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