Apple-Cajeta Phyllo Tart

I have made quite a few apple tarts. Mostly because I love buttery pastry and caramelized apples. Unlike other apple tarts, this recipe is deceptively simple, but does require a lot of technique to make. Namely because of the cajeta, and the phyllo. Cajeta is the Oaxacan cousin to dulce de leche, using goat’s milk and cinnamon to create a more fragrant tang. It is delicious and it pairs beautifully with apples. Now if you know anything about making dulce de leche from scratch, it is a process. And like making dulce de leche, making your own cajeta from scratch takes time. Usually hours. My recipe does cut some corners, using canned evaporated goat’s milk(which is surprisingly accessible in the baking section of most grocery stores), which cuts down the cooking time of making cajeta by about 2 hours. If you do not have access to cajeta, using dulce de leche with 1 tsp of goat milk powder and a pinch of cinnamon is not a bad substitute either! You can also make a “faux-jeta” using gjetost cheese(which is a caramelized goat milk cheese that is also surprisingly accessible in most grocery stores!), milk, cinnamon, and brown sugar! Beyond the cajeta, the other part is the phyllo. This recipe is made with fresh phyllo. Phyllo from scratch can seem a bit challenging, but it does not take nearly as long to make as one might expect, but it is a labor of love, since you have to roll out each layer and get them super thin. You can make this recipe using premade phyllo and premade cajeta if you really want to save time.

For the components, we have homemade phyllo brushed with brown butter and cinnamon sugar acting as the crust for the tart, and inside, a cajeta frangipane(almond cream), roasted apples, cinnamon sugar, and whipped goat’s cheese to finish. I wanted to use the goat cheese on top as a direct homage to the goat milk used in the cajeta. If you hate goat’s cheese or milk(namely the gaminess), the beautiful thing here is that the cinnamon, sugar, and apples really tone that down, and leave you with a pleasant tang that works beautifully in dessert. With the phyllo, baking it through is very important, since you are pouring a frangipane batter over it and then baking the frangipane batter in the tart shell again. If the phyllo is raw when the batter is poured over it, it will result in raw layers of phyllo dough getting stuck to an undercooked layer of frangipane batter. If you are worried that the phyllo will burn from being twice-baked, you can cover the crust with tin foil too before returning the tart shell with the batter to the oven, and that will help prevent further browning on the sides. Personally, this tart is one of my favorite things to do with apples, since it is kind of like an apple strudel meets an almond croissant, but with cajeta, which only ever makes a dessert better! You can eat it for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or even as a snack! It’s a great way to use up a lot of apples.

For the cajeta:
1 12oz can evaporated goat’s milk
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup dark brown sugar(preferably canela but any sugar can work)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt

In a nonstick pot, stir down the goat milk with baking soda first until it reaches a dark brown color – this can take up to 40 minutes. Then add in the other ingredients and continue to stir for another 15 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool down before attempting to use.

For the phyllo:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp apple brandy or another liquor
a pinch of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, browned(reserve any spare for the rest of the recipe!)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg

In a bowl, mix together the flour with water, brandy, and salt until a dough barely begins to form. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes, then roll each dough ball out into disks that are about 6 inches in diameter. Brush 7 of the 8 disks with brown butter and sugar. Stack the disks on top of one another so that the top disk is not brushed with butter either. Then roll out the dough as thinly as possible, gently pulling the dough along the way just to keep each layer approximately the same size. Brush one side with more brown butter and place that side down into a nonstick tart pan. Then brush the other side with a thin layer of beaten egg(reserve the rest of the egg for the frangipane!). Prick the dough with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes, or until the bottom of the tart shell is cooked through.

For the roasted apples:
4 apples, peeled and cut into wedges
3 tbsp brown butter
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp apple brandy or other liquor
1oz cajeta

In a pan, sear the apple wedges in brown butter and salt on both sides first. Then add in the apple brandy and flambe. Once the flambe fire dies off, lower the heat in the pan and add in the cajeta. Allow the cajeta to reduce around the apples to caramelize them.

For the cajeta frangipane:
4oz cajeta
3 tbsp brown butter
2/3 cups almond meal
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 egg(reserved from the phyllo)
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of salt

In a bowl, mix everything together until combined. Pour into your already-baked phyllo shell. Arrange on top of the frangipane your roasted apples and bake for another 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.

For the whipped goat cheese:
4oz goat cheese
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp confectioner’s sugar
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Whip everything together until creamy and stiff. Quenelle the goat cheese on top of the tart.

To finish:
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
a pinch of cinnamon

Mix sugar with cinnamon. Dust the surface of the tart with confectioner’s sugar.

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