Sunday, July 19, 2015

Chaussons aux Pommes #SundaySupper


Crisp apples, with lemon or lime juice and zest and just a bit of sugar, cook down into the best chunky applesauce, the perfect filling for puff pastry chaussons or slippers. 

Le Marché du Petit Robinson  – the twice-weekly market - was but a block and a half away from our house just south of Paris in the ville of L'Haÿ-les-Roses. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, starting just before 8 a.m., the neighbors would start to filter past, the elderly pulling their two-wheeled shopping carts, the younger set pushing their children in strollers, all on their way to the market. Some days the girls and I would join them, even if we didn’t really need anything because 1. It was an outing and moms with toddlers can always use an outing, especially when the weather is grey and 2. There were always tasty items to snack on and fresh produce to peruse once we got there.

We drooled over shiny fruit and the soft cheeses, often helping ourselves to the little chunks of artisan saucisson or spicy olives that were proffered for tasting but our favorite stall was always the baked goods. There were hefty seeded loaves as big as your head and almost as heavy; rustic baguettes with their crunchy exteriors and chewy interiors full of holes and flavor; pain aux raisins, spirals of buttery pastry filled with raisins and brushed to a high gloss with a sticky sweet glaze and last but never least, little puff pastry “slippers” which had been filled with chunky applesauce and baked till fluffy and golden. If you arrived early enough some were still warm!

When I read that the theme for this week’s Sunday Supper was Farmstand Foods, I couldn’t resist trying to recreate the little chaussons or slippers. Just the aroma of them baking in the oven brought me back! Isn’t it funny how smells can evoke such strong memories, perhaps even more than photos will do?

Two years ago for a similar Sunday Supper theme, we celebrated farmer's markets and I posted a number photos from a French market for those who wanted to drool a little. This seems like a good time to share them again, along with my cherry clafoutis.

In the wee hours of tomorrow morning, I’ll be headed back to France for a visit and you can be certain that I’ll be browsing as many markets as I can find along my road trip route from Nantes to Chinon and down to Bordeaux!

Follow along with me on Instagram

My recipe was adapted from this one on Meilleur du Chef.

Ingredients
For about 1 1/2 cups or 395g applesauce or compote, as it is called in French:
1 lb 4 oz or 560 g apples – three large apples
Zest plus 2 tablespoons juice from fresh lemon or lime
1 rounded tablespoon or 15g butter
1/4 cup or 50g sugar (plus more to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

You may not use it all of the applesauce in the chaussons, but it is also delicious eaten straight from the bowl with a spoon.

For the chausson crusts:
11 1/3 oz or 320g readymade puff pastry dough

To brush on before baking:
2 tablespoons milk

Method
Zest and juice your lemon or lime and put the zest and juice in a bowl that will be large enough to hold your apples, once peeled and chopped.

Peel, core and chop your apples into chunks. Add them to the juice bowl, as each one is done and stir well. This will stop the apples from turning brown.



Pour the apples into a small pot that has a lid and add in the sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Stir well.

Cook over a medium flame, covered for the first 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. There is no need to add liquid, as the apples will release their juice.



After the apples start to soften, you can remove the lid and lower the flame. Let the apples cook until the liquid is just about gone and you have a thick, chunky applesauce. You can mash gently with a fork but make sure to leave some chunks.

Allow to cool and taste to see if you need a little more sugar. I didn’t add any but I like things tart.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with baking parchment or a silicone mat.

Meanwhile, line your clean work surface with cling film and make a template out of paper. I used a very large coffee mug and traced the two halves of the base about an inch and a half or three centimeters apart, then connected the halves to create an elongated shape that is not quite oval, but rather a circle that’s been stretched in the middle. (Actual dimensions: 10 x 14cm or 4 x 5.5 in) You can make a simple circle, instead of the traditional “slipper” shape, but you won’t have as much room for filling.

Roll out your puff pastry on the cling film big enough to accommodate at least six of your template.

Lay the template on the puff pastry and cut around it with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut all the way through the cling film.



Remove the excess puff pastry from around the cut pieces. (You can bake these bits after the chaussons, rolled in a little cinnamon sugar for a sweet snack.)

Brush the puff pastry that remains with a little water around the edges and add a healthy spoon of applesauce in the middle of each.



Fold one side over and gently try to remove all of the air inside as you seal the edges together.



Transfer the chaussons to your prepared baking sheet. If they are stuck down, lift the cling film from under them to help them release.

If you have a pastry cutter, you can make a decorative edge but this is completely optional.



Lightly score the tops of the chaussons with a sharp knife, making sure not to cut all the way through. I use my negi cutter for this job but any very sharp knife or a lame will do.

Brush the tops with a little milk and bake in your preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden and puffy. They are super puffy when they first come out.



Then they deflate a little.



Allow the chaussons to cool somewhat before biting into one. That applesauce is going to be hot!



Enjoy!

Many thanks to our Sunday Supper host for the Farmstand Food event, Colleen of FoodieTots, ably assisted by veteran host, DB of Crazy Foodie Stunts.

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