Recipe: Apple Tart with Pretzel Cheddar Crust

One night, not too terribly long ago, I was eating some apple pie when a brilliant idea struck me. (Well, it seemed brilliant at the time.) Apple pie with pretzel cheddar crust. Yes, taking sweet and salty to the extreme. Turns out, it was a pretty decent idea.

You could really adapt any apple pie recipe to this idea by adding about 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese and replacing 1/3-1/2 cup of flour with “pretzel dust” in the crust recipe.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients
Dough
Large handful of mini pretzels or pretzel sticks
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Filling 
2 pounds (3-4 large) Granny Smith apples (Golden Delicious okay too), peeled, cored (save peels and cores) and slice about 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons sugar

Glaze
1/2 cup sugar

Preparation
1. In a food processor, pulse pretzels until in pieces no larger than 1/4 inch (alternatively, smash pretzels in a plastic bag until the same size).

2. Add flour, sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pretzels. Pulse until combined and dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter and process until biggest pieces are about the size of peas.

3. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Drizzle water over mixture and stir with a spatula to bring the dough together. Add cheddar cheese and toss mixture until you can roll the dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch thick disk; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Let dough soften for a few minutes after refrigerating. Smooth cracks at edges, and places disk on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper at lest 16 inches wide. Roll dough into a 14 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick–this is the trickiest part, but if you’re anything like me and end up with an oval or just lopsided circle-looking thing, pull dough from part of the crust and add it where needed, then continue to roll.

5. Overlap apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge and continue inward until you reach the center. Fold outside dough back over the apples.

6. Brush melted butter over apples and onto the dough. Sprinkle one tablespoons of sugar over the dough edge and the other two tablespoons over apples.

7. Bake in the center of the oven until apples are soft with browned edges and crust is a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.

8. Make glaze: put reserved apple peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover, simmer for 25 minutes and strain syrup.

9. Remove tart from oven, slide onto a cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes, then brush glaze over the tart, slice and serve.

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