Written and Photographed by Rebekah Peppler
Let’s get this right out in the open. I’m from Wisconsin. Born and raised on brats, beer and cheddar cheese, I can hold my own at a -20˚F Packer game, possess intricate know-how in order to navigate the rowdy aisles of a Brewer’s game without spilling any choice beverages and can boast of growing up witha foam cheese-head and chunk of authentic Lambeau turf in the downstairs freezer.So, when it came time for the first apple pie of the year and I found myself back in my home state, I wanted to honor it in only the best of ways. What are the best of ways for a Wisconsinite? With cheese, cheddar cheese.
Cheddar has long been the classic foil to apples, traditionally served on the side of apple pie, its sweet-savory combination balances perfectly on the tongue. But when leaving it up to the diner proves too cumbersome, cut out the middleman and bake it directly into the crust. It makes this timeless combination even easier, plus there’s the added bonus of a warm home inundated with the robust aroma of toasted cheddar cheese and sweet apple compote.
And if you can, get your hands on a vigorously sharp Wisconsin cheddar and make me – and my home state – proud.
Apple Pie Tartlettes with Cheddar Brisee
For the Cheddar Brisee
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
I/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 – 4 Tbsp ice cold water
¾ cup sharp Wisconsin cheddar
1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and cut in butter until lentil sized pieces form.
2. Add water and mix just till the dough comes together.
3. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill.
4. When well chilled, roll out and line six 4” tartlette shells.
For the Apple Compote
6 medium apples (I used a mixture of Paula Red and Zestar)
½ cup vanilla sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
generous pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup water, plus more if needed
1. Core and chop apples into ½ inch pieces. Toss in fresh lemon juice. (I leave the skin on to impart a gorgeous ruby color and enhance texture).
2. Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover with a parchment round, turn down the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and compote is thickened.
3. Line a sheet pan with plastic wrap allowing excess to hang over side; spread compote onto sheet pan and cover gently with excess wrap. Allow compote to cool completely.
To Assemble and Bake
1. Preheat over to 400˚F.
2. Prick the chilled tart shell with a fork, fill with cooled compote.
3. Bake 10-15 minutes until crust is browned.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature with lightly sweetened whipped cream.