Incredibly Cute Crab Apple Tartlets

This week our CSA fruit share included some intensely sweet little Colorado peaches and a couple of handfuls of wild apples, which also go by the less-flattering name of crab apples.  It was kind of surprising to find them in the fruit share, but I love crab apples and enjoy eating a few on campus now and then, thus depriving the campus squirrels.  If you see crabs as just an ornamental fruit you are missing out.  The etymology of the name crab apple is unclear but it goes back a few centuries, and may or may not be related to the tart and sour character of most types of wild apples.  The apples we received were small and blushed with red:

My first thought was to go the traditional route and preserve these in simple syrup, but we are so overrun with preserved foods I decided to pass.  My second thought was: wouldn’t these make incredibly cute little tarts?  So, tarts won out.  Given the tiny size of these apples I pulled out my mini muffin pan for some tiny tartlets.  I used a single pastry sheet for the tarts (yes, I used my trusty Pillsbury pie crust) and cut them into small circles with a juice glass then tucked them into the tins:

To get twelve pastry circles I had to cut and roll the last two from scraps, but you could also roll the crust a little thinner to begin with and you would get twelve. Or, naturally, you can make your own crust and roll it thin.  Next I mixed four ounces of light cream cheese with a third of a cup of powdered sugar and a couple of teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.  When that was smooth I divided it evenly among the tins–about a heaping teaspoon per crust.  I then began the labor of love of quartering and coring the little apples.  I placed them, petal-like, into the crusts, and then baked at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (or until the apples have softened and the crust looks lightly browned).  This is how they looked going into the oven:

I then warmed up a quarter cup of apple jelly in the microwave to liquify (I used my mom’s homemade apple jelly for this–any clear jelly or orange marmalade would be nice) and then brushed the jelly over the baked tarts to glaze.  They were almost too cute to eat, but we did it anyway.  We enjoyed some for dessert with some of Harrison’s homemade rose water ice cream, inspired by his recent trip to Detroit and the Dearborn area (yes, he is awesome):

The tart little apples glazed with the sweet jelly make for a really delicious two-bite dessert.   The next time you see a loaded crab apple tree, consider these for a beautiful and unusual dessert.

Thanks for reading!

-Angela

Crab Apple on FoodistaCrab Apple

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4 Responses to Incredibly Cute Crab Apple Tartlets

  1. The WoodLand School August 19, 2010 at 2:15 am #

    These look absolutely delicious! Now I kinda I wish I hadn't thrown so many crab apples at my sister when we were younger 😉

  2. FRS August 19, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    Oh, I'm sure she deserved it!

  3. Anonymous August 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    The squirrels or birds planted a crab apple seed in our spirea bush. We let it grow and it is full of apples this year. Now I will use your recipe and make beautiful tarts with apple jelly glaze. Harrison, could you make ice cream for our tarts?
    mom

  4. Eric August 19, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    The tarts look and sounds YUMMY! I wish our weeping crab apple tree hadn't died this Spring!!

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