It’s ∏ Day! Time to make pie! So why am I writing about a pastry that is part danish and part tart instead? Well, here’s an actual conversation from my geeky household to yours.
John: You don’t make pie to celebrate ∏ Day. You make circular arguments and circular things.
Me: I’m making pie because it’s ∏ Day. There’s a circular argument for you. Besides, pies are circular.
John: No they’re not.
Me: Yes they are.
John: No they’re not. Everyone knows that pie are square.
Oy… I seem to fall into the trap of John’s bad pun setups all the time.
Shaking that off for now, let’s go back a little in time to when this tart was made. For Christmas, John gave me a mandolin! So exciting! So shiny! So sharp! So scary! My giddiness about using it equals my fear which is a dangerous combination, but I still look for opportunities to use it. With leftover puff pastry and cream cheese lying in the fridge, I thought I’d throw together a tart as another opportunity to practice my slicing skills.
I let the cream cheese soften before mixing in some almond extract, a little sugar for a touch of sweetness, and some lemon zest to brighten the flavors. This was then spread out over a square of puff pastry then I shingled my perfectly sliced apple pieces that had been mixed with my favorite combination of apple pie spices: cinnamon, brown sugar, a little lemon juice, nutmeg, and cardamom. Cut into square pieces, each bite was a combination of buttery, crisp, flaky pastry; slightly sweet and tangy cream cheese, and firm, juicy apple pieces.
And there you go: square pie for your ∏ Day.
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator over night
- 2 medium honeycrisp apples, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 5 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it measures 12 x 12 inches. Place square on a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet. With a paring knife, lightly score a square about 1 inch inside the border (this will make the border rise, making a crust with a flat-bottomed center.)
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Place the apple slices in a medium bowl and mix in the spice and brown sugar mixture until apples are coated. Take a taste and mix in lemon juice to taste. Set aside and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
With a mixer, beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and almond extract until smooth and fluffy. Carefully spread this over the center part of the puff pastry, leaving the border clean of the filling (an offset spatula helps here.) Shingle the apple slices then drizzle with any juice left over in the bowl. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting into 3 x 3 inch squares.