Before we start, I want you to keep in mind that this is one of those recipes. Those rare dishes where it would be impossible to stop at one taste, one bite – where trying to share would devolve into an all out war of who could eat the fastest. Each mouthful is a riot of contrasts – cool and creamy meets crisp and warm, salty and savoury meets rich and sweet. You could eat it over and over. Maybe I was overtired from a big baking weekend (did you see that 6 layer 21st cake?!), but the moment of realisation, of achievement, of thinking ‘this is it’, was as exhilarating as winning a race – efforts rewarded.
You know what I mean.
Right now I’m enjoying my first proper moment of stillness since this time last week. The aforementioned baking frenzy (which also included this passionfruit coconut meringue bars and this pear, beetroot and walnut salad with a homemade loaf of ciabatta) and late nights out left me feeling almost jet-lagged with exhaustion. The eight hours at the hospital yesterday were serious struggle-town (though I did manage to scrub in and assist with a mastectomy, if you can call holding retractors assisting).
This new peacefulness has arrived in the form of an extra-hot takeaway flat white from the local cafe, a piece of that passionfruit slice, and a seat on the slouchy soft couch in the sun, computer propped up in my lap. A few hours of blogging time before afternoon lectures!
I think part of the problem is that I have a tendency to overestimate my time. I plan my day as if I somehow expect an extra hour or two to squeeze in there around 2pm, or as if I can do everything at 1.5x speed. It’s either unrealistic optimism or plain stupidity. I must get it from my Dad – Mum always mentally adds an hour to whenever he says he’ll be back from a bike ride for a much more accurate ETA. The girls I live wit h have learnt the same – that often (not always, but often) my dinner making runs late – 630pm will be 7pm, 7 will be 730. My bedtime does the same. Everything takes a little bit longer than my frontal cortex, that centre for executive functioning, predicts. Research suggests that the brain doesn’t full mature until about age 25, however, and until this time the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully wired up, or myelinated, so doesn’t work as efficiently – though I could say that’s why, I probably just need to set more realistic goals!
But back to these Apple & Walnut Crumble Tarts with Miso Butterscotch Ice Cream. It’s like your childhood apple crumble on steroids. Revamped and rejuvenated, the sort of dessert you could be served at a restaurant and walk away already planning your next trip back. The night after I made it, the winning dessert on Masterchef included a miso caramel component which was labelled “genius” by the judges – a spark of pride and a hint of satisfaction hit, though I wished I could impress them with my version.
It is a crisp, buttery short pastry, topped with thinly sliced layers of tender, cinnamon spiced apple. A golden brown, nutty walnut crumble adorns it, taking the place of a pie crust and allowing the apple to cook thoroughly underneath. The ice cream is melt-in-your-mouth smooth, rippled with streams of unami-salty-sweet miso butterscotch, and gently flows in small rivulets amongst the crumble. Finished off with a final stream of warm miso caramel sauce, swirling in with the ice cream and dripping in small pools on the plate – it is the ultimate apple dessert.
You can see in the photos that I couldn’t help but start sampling one as I went – it was tough to hold back from finishing off the whole thing immediately! And with a little forward planning, it actually doesn’t take too long. Did I mention that it is a no churn ice cream recipe? 15 minutes and straight in the freezer. A few notes on timing are below.
PS. Has anyone seasoned a new wok before? I had a go with mine this morning, but wasn’t sure how much smoke was supposed to be produced, or how brown-black it should go. I used ginger and spring onion to try to get rid of that metallic taint, but any other advice would be welcome!
PPS. A big thank you to Mozi for the white textured plates!
- The recipe makes 6-8 individual tarts. You could also make one larger tart – keep in mind that it might take a bit longer to cook, however.
- The day before: make the miso butterscotch (15min) and the no churn ice cream (15min).
- Either the day before, or on the day: make the pastry and refrigerate (15min), make the apple filling (15min), and make the walnut crumble (15 min).
- On the day: line the tart tins, put the tarts together, bake (1 hour).
- Serve with the ice cream and leftover butterscotch sauce.
- ¾ cup cream
- 85g unsalted butter
- ¼ cup white miso
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 cups cream
- 1 can (400ml) sweetened condensed milk
- ½ tsp vanilla paste, or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- ⅓-1/2 cup miso butterscotch sauce (recipe above)
- 228g flour (just a smidge over 1¾ cups)
- ⅔ cup icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 165g butter, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 egg
- 1 kg granny smith, peeled and thinly sliced (mine were 800g after this)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup caster sugar
- 2 tbsp flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch of allspice
- ½ cup flour
- ¾ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar (or regular brown sugar)
- pinch of salt
- 60g butter, at room temperature/slightly softened
- Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan, and cook over a low heat, stirring occassionally, until the butter melts
- Add the miso paste and sugar and stir until the miso has dissolved. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened and shiny. Taste to adjust sugar - remember that it goes in a very sweet ice cream so the saltiness of the miso is good!
- Set aside to cool .
- In a mixer or with an electric beater, whip the cream to stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Whisking the cream continuously, slowly pour the condensed milk mix into the cream until combined.
- Pour ⅓ of the mixture into a loaf tin or other container. Swirl in a few tablespoons of miso butterscotch sauce (be careful not to mix together too much). Pour over another ⅓ of the ice cream base and repeat the swirling, twice more.
- You will have extra miso butterscotch left - keep this for serving the tarts.
- Cover and transfer to the freezer to set for at least 8 hours (ideally overnight) before serving.
- Blitz the flour, icing sugar and salt together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until a bread-crumb like texture forms. Add the lemon, vanilla and egg and pulse 10 times. The mixture will still be pretty dry and crumbly. Turn out onto a clean surface and gather and press together. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours.
- Grease 6- 8 small tart tins or a large 26-28cm tart tin. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured bench to about 3mm thick and line the tins, pressing firmly into the sidees. The pastry will be hard to roll out at first but don’t worry, it will soften as you go. Think of it as an arm workout! If it rips at all or you find that one edge is too thin, it is easy to use the leftover pastry scraps to patch it back together.
- Trim the pastry to form a neat edge - I usually just roll my rolling pin over the edge to cut through the pastry. If you end up with leftover pastry, you can line another set of tart tins later and freeze them for future use, or make more if you have leftover apple mix.
- Rest the lined tins in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the apple mixture by mixing together the sliced apples, lemon juice, caster sugar, flour, cinnamon adn allspice with your fingers to thoroughly coat.
- Make the walnut crumble by combing the flour, walnuts, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until crumbly and combined (see photos)
- Remove the lined tart tins from the fridge. Layer up apple slices inside the tins, using different sizes as you go to fit them as tightly together as you can. You may need to cut some apple slices in half to make them fit without gaps that are too big. Depending on the size of your tins, you may end up with leftover apple - either use it to make more tarts or roast or sautee them separately for a breakfast fruit topping!
- Top the apple slices with walnut crumble mix. Gently press the crumble into the cracks and spaces, and around the inner edge of the pastry, fitting in as much as you can.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry and crumble are golden-brown.
- Cool for at least 15 minutes before popping the tarts out of their tins.
- Serve with a scoop of miso butterscotch ice cream and extra miso-butterscotch sauce, gently warmed.