If I am forever known as the crazy pink pearl apple girl, I’ll gladly accept it. On Instagram, I tried to give myself the title “unofficial pink pearl apple ambassador” so it sounds less obsessive but honestly, I am truly, madly, deeply in love with these fruits.
Here in San Francisco, come August, I am like a hawk, ready to pounce the moment these apples arrive at the market. My obsessive nature is partially due to the fact that they’re only available about 3-4 weeks of the year, so I frantically snatch up as many as I can. Apples may be more of a fall fruit, but considering these don’t last into September, I call them late-summer season fruits. No one wants to rush into fall so soon.
What’s so special about them, you ask? They have a blush hue on the outside, but once peeled, you’ll discover a vibrant deep pink interior. The intensity of pink can vary across farms and even within a farm’s pick. As far as taste, they have the perfect balance of sweet and tart. When I bake with them, I tend to use less sugar than called for.
Every year, I make the French Apple Tart recipe from Ina Garten, adjusting the sugar and the design to my liking. I’ve done a round, mini rounds and this year, rectangle.
Pink Pearl Apple Tart
Adapted from Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart
For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
3-5 tablespoons ice water
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
For the apples:
6-8 pink pearl apples, medium size
3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar, adjust based on sweetness of apples
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup apricot jelly
Freshly whipped cream, for serving
For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, into the feed tube, and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out till 1/4″ thick. Then trim to a 10 x 12″ rectangle. Place it on the sheet pan. At this point, you can fold the edges over 1/4″ to create a border or, as shown above, I re-rolled the scraps of dough into strips. I twisted each strip and laid it on top of the edges of the tart and pressed down at the corners to seal. Brush egg wash on the pastry borders. Place the tart in the fridge while you work on the apples.
Onto the apples. This is the most tedious part of the process so put on your favorite music or TV show. Note, the first time I made this tart, I left the peel on and didn’t like the texture when eating the tart. So, I always peel the apples. Then cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller. With a mandoline, slice the apples crosswise in 1/4″ thick slices. You can also do this by hand, but I got much more even slices with the mandoline.
Take the tart out of fridge. To create the look above, I fanned 10 slices in my hand, then placed the group of slices onto the tart. I repeated this until the entire tart was full. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup sugar and dot with butter.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples just start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out.
When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature with freshly whipped cream.