For many people, this week marks a return to reality. The return of structure in the form of schedules and appointments, bedtimes, and wake-up calls. And while it is sad to bid adieu to the party atmosphere of summer, I must admit, I am keen to return to something a little more routine. But when it comes to the kitchen, nothing has changed. Food offers little pockets of jubilation, and I for one am more than happy to let the good times roll. So in the spirit of jovial cooking and in celebration of the Jewish New Year, I’m serving up these Honey Apple Challah Tarts.
Now, I didn’t grow up in a Jewish household but my lovely partner did. And while his family was not particularly religious, we do like to celebrate a few things. And anything that involves apples and honey is deserving of attention. It’s traditional to serve raw apple slices and honey on Rosh Hashanah (New Year). The apples represent good health and the honey signifies the hope for a sweet year ahead. It’s also a very delicious flavor combo but that is beside the point.
This year, I decided to use the combo of honey and apple as a jumping-off point for a Rosh Hashanah dessert. The result was these Honey Apple Challah Tarts. Challah is also traditionally served during the new year, often braided into a circular loaf. The challah formed into a circle because it’s meant to represent the cyclical nature of each passing year. I skipped the braiding, which is a bit of a blessing because I have no natural talent for it, and simply punched biscuit-size pieces out of my challah dough. These circles formed the nest for a very delicious occupant – rosé poached apples.
Now, these rosé poached apples are a delicious dessert in their own right. There would be absolutely no shame in serving them hot from the pot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. So, if the thought of whipping up a yeasted dough feels like a little too much for you, that is also a viable option.
Now, the prep associated with these apples is almost non-existent. All you have to do is peel, core, and halve six Honeycrisp apples. I went with Honeycrisp for obvious reasons. From here, simply slip the apples into a saucepan and cover them with 3/4 of a bottle of rosé. Get a good rosé. I mean, don’t splurge on the bottle of your dreams, but choose a wine you wouldn’t mind drinking. To the rosé, add some honey, again for obvious reasons, a cinnamon stick, and two star anise pods. Bring everything to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Congratulations, your house now smells amazing. Cook until the apples are tender, about 45 minutes.
Now, as I mentioned, at this point, you could spoon the apples into bowls and finish them with ice cream. But if you are keen to give yourself the full Honey Apple Challah Tart experience, you’re going to want to chill the apples overnight. I poured what was left of the poaching liquid over the apples before storing them but this is optional. I do feel like it improved the final color of the finished apple, though. And speaking of color, when you’re on the hunt for that perfect rose, try to select one that is especially rosy. We want to make the apples blush.
Although these tarts look impressive, they are very easy to form. As I mentioned, I used a biscuit cutter to punch out circles of challah dough. The largest cutter I have is 3″, which was a hair too small, so I expanded the circles using a rolling pin. This is another good point – when you’re selecting your apples, try to select smaller ones. It will make snuggling them into the center of the dough that much easier.
After a quick egg wash and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, the Honey Apple Challah Tarts are ready for the oven. The bake in 25-30 minutes, and should be rotated once halfway through to ensure even browning. Once the tarts are fresh from the oven, the apples get a final coating of honey and a fresh bay leaf for effect. The bay leaf is, of course, optional and can be swapped for a sprig of sage or any other herb you fancy. You can also serve them plain jane and still cause a stir.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Honey Apple Challah Tarts. A fresh but cozy dessert with delicate flavors and an unforgettable appearance.
Honey Apple Challah Tarts with Sesame Seeds
- 2 large baking sheets
- A large saucepan
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup neutral oil I used canola
Rosé Poached Apples
- 6 Honeycrisp Apples peeled, halved, and cored
- ¾ bottle rosé
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise pods
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp water
- sesame seeds for sprinkling
- ¼ cup honey
- 12 bay leaves optional
For the Challah
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the warm water, yeast, and a pinch of granulated sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy.1 cup warm water, 2 tsp active dry yeast
- While the yeast is proofing, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Form a well in the center of the mixture and add the eggs, the yolk, and the oil. Whisk the wet ingredients, slowly integrating a little of the dry ingredients until a paste forms.4 cups all-purpose flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 2 tsp kosher salt, 2 large eggs, 1 egg yolk, ¼ cup neutral oil
- Add the yeast mixture and click the bowl into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix the dough until it cleans the sides of the bowl and is tacky but not sticky to the touch. **
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and kneed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl greased with neutral oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for an hour and a half or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and form it into a ball once again. Return the plastic wrap to the bowl and transfer the dough to the fridge and leave it to proof overnight.
For the Apples
- Once the dough is in the fridge, start the Rosé Poached Apples. Pour the wine into a large saucepan and add the honey, stir to combine. Add the apples, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the apples are tender.6 Honeycrisp Apples, ¾ bottle rosé, ¼ cup honey, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise pods
- Transfer the apples to a resealable container and pour the remaining poaching liquid over top. Transfer to the fridge and chill overnight.
- Take the challah dough out of the fridge 3 hours before forming the tarts. Once the dough has reached room temperature and risen slightly, punch the dough down again. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll it out to a 1/2 an inch thickness.
- Using a biscuit cutter, punch out 12 circles. You may have to roll out the scraps a couple of times to get the full 12. Using a rolling pin, expand each circle a little to accommodate the apples. Place a poached apple half in the center of each challah circle. Transfer the tarts to two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Cover with tea towels and let rise for an hour and a half.
- When you’re an hour into the rising time, preheat the oven to 400°F. Once the tarts have proofed, whisk to combine the egg white and water. Brush the challah dough with the egg white mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.1 egg white, 1 tbsp water, sesame seeds
- Transfer the tarts to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden, rotating the baking sheet once halfway through. Take the tarts out of the oven and immediately brush the apples with honey. Let cool for 10 minutes before decorating the tarts with the fresh bay leaves and transferring to a platter. Serve warm with tea, coffee, or something stronger.¼ cup honey, 12 bay leaves