Apple Croustades with Vanilla Creme Anglais

This dessert looks fancy but is actually super simple to put together. You just have to be really careful with your phyllo. It was the first time I had handled phyllo and it is so thin and delicate, it is also so quick to dry out and become brittle. If it breaks or tears, don’t panic. This dessert is also very forgiving.

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 lb apples, peeled, cubed
1 1/2 tsp brandy
1 tbsp lemon juice
Stir sugar and 2 tbsp water on med-high heat until dissolved. Here, the recipe says to swirl pan frequently until it turns golden brown (about 4 minutes), remove from heat and immediately whisk in butter. [I didn’t do this and couldn’t make it work when I tried so if you’re like me, just add all of your ingredients to the pan until apples soften.] Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and stir well. Add apples and stir to coat. Cook apples until soft – resist stirring often so they don’t get mushy. Remove from heat and add brandy and lemon juice. Let cool or make ahead.

Pastry
1/3 cup butter
9 sheets phyllo
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven 375F. Butter muffin cups and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
Unroll phyllo, cover with plastic wrap and damp cloth. [I didn’t do this so had trouble with it crumbling a bit.] Starting with one sheet, brush thin layer of butter and sprinkle generous 1 tsp sugar. Repeat until you have three layers. Cut into four and set aside. Repeat twice more until you have 12 rectangles.
Working with one rectangle at a time, arrange phyllo in muffin cup, gently pressing on bottom and sides. Fill each with apple filling. Gather edges of phyllo together at the top. Bake about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool a bit before unmoulding.

I might actually cover them with a bit of tinfoil to start, so they don’t get too brown. They were still quite soft underneath and most of them fell apart except this one! Top with Vanilla Creme Anglais.

Source: Bon Appetit, October 2012

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