Cinnamon Tequila Apple Mille Feuille

So I was fortunate enough to be gifted with a bottle of cinnamon tequila from the lovely Sheetal from Masterchef season 1, from her company, Spice Note Tequila, which features spice-infused tequilas! I actually love baking with alcohol, despite not being an alcoholic or even that much of a drinker(featherweight problems I guess), so I had a couple of ideas on what I wanted to do with it! Since alcohol evaporates when baked with, one major idea I had was to use it in puff pastry. Because the alcohol will steam off, that will create super flaky layers in any dough that has layers of it, so puff pastry just made the most sense with what to do with it. Either that, pie dough, or choux pastry would be the first three places where my mind would go when baking with booze. Will Napoleons and mille feuille are the most common usages for puff pastry, I figured I could go the route of mille feuille(a French dessert that is made with stacks of the butter pastry and pastry cream), but spruce it up a little and make it a little more fun! Thin circles of the puff pastry, little spheres of apples carved out with a 1980’s melon baller that are flambeed in the tequila, and some caramel gelee cubes infused with the tequila, and some bubble sugar made from the cinnamon tequila all round out this dessert and make it one to remember!

So I would be lying if I said this was a quick and easy recipe. Namely because the puff pastry. It takes time. And patience. And tons of butter. You COULD use store bought, and while I may judge you a little bit, you can be the one laughing while I am busying spending hours folding and rolling my buttery pastry from scratch instead of living my best life. That being said, I am opting to make it from scratch because the idea is to highlight the tequila but infusing it directly into the dough. That and I will be the one laughing in the end when my puff pastry is flakier than the frozen stuff and tastes like cinnamon! I am also going with a fairly standard pastry cream, because I felt like there needed to be some neutral ground with all of the cinnamon tequila being thrown around there. The caramel is made with the tequila as well, and is set with agar into little cubes that dot the dessert and give it pops of complexity. And the apples are cored out with a melon baller, more so to mimic the shape of the pastry cream after that is piped onto the puff pastry. The bubble sugar is there as a little cute finishing garnish, to tie back in with the caramel cubes, but also to showcase the tequila, as bubble sugar is made by pouring hot sugar over alcohol, which causes it to fizzle and set with this gorgeous bubble wrap-like appearance! You can use almost any alcohol to make bubble sugar, so I figured, why not use it here?

For the cinnamon tequila puff pastry:
1 stick unsalted butter, diced and kept frozen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cinnamon-infused tequila
a pinch of salt

Mix the butter with the flour. Mix the tequila with salt and pour into the flour mixture. Mix together until just barely combined! You want the dough to be craggy and tough-looking with giant visible chunks of butter! Shape into a rectangle and fold into thirds, brochure style, to form a square. Freeze for 15 minutes. Then on a floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle and re-fold brochure style again. Freeze for another 15 minutes again. Repeat that three more times. Then roll out the dough to about 1/16th-inch thickness and cut out squares from the dough(I did 4 inches, 3 inches, 2 inches, and 1 inch). Freeze the dough for another 5 minutes and transfer the 4 and 3-inch squares to a lined sheet tray. Place on top another sheet tray to weight them down, and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. For the 2 and 1-inch squares, bake at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes, using the same weighing method. Allow your pastry to cool down before assembling.

For the pastry cream:
1/2 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter

Heat up the milk in a pot. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Pour half of the milk into the egg yolks while whisking. Then pour the egg yolk mixture into the milk mixture and return that pot to medium heat, whisking for 2 minutes, or until the egg mixture clings to the sides of your whisks and holds its shape firmly. Take off heat and mix in your butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Pour through a sieve and transfer to the refrigerator. Once the mixture is fully cooled down, transfer to a piping bag with a round tip.

For the cinnamon tequila caramel cubes:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon tequila
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp agar

Heat up the sugar and tequila until it begins to brown. Then pour in the salt, water, and agar. Mix together until the agar and sugar dissolve together and the alcohol cooks off. Pour into silicone bar molds and freeze solid. The cut into 1/4-inch cubes.

For the flambeed apple filling:
2 green apples, peeled and melon-balled
2 tbsp unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp cinnamon tequila

Sear the apples with butter and salt first for another 2 minutes on medium heat, while keeping the pan covered. Then pour in the tequila and carefully tip the liquid towards the flame to flambe(keep your head away from the pan). Allow the flame to burn out and toss the apples together. Transfer to a plate for assembly.

For the tequila bubble sugar:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cinnamon tequila

In a pot, heat the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water until it comes to a simmer. Crumble up a sheet of parchment and brush onto that the tequila. Once the syrup turns a golden brown, pour onto the parchment, allowing the sugar to spread into a thin, even layer. Allow the sugar to cool down completely before transferring to an airtight container.

For assembly:
Edible flower petals

Start with the largest square of pastry. Alternate between pipings of the pastry cream and the apples, then dot between that the gelee. Repeat again and again and again, using less of each component to offset the fact each layer of smaller. Garnish the sides with your flower petals and the top with the bubble sugar to finish.

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