380g rough puff pastry, classic puff pastry, or use ready-made
180g crème pâtissière
3 medium apples (preferably Cox's)
60g caster sugar
3 passion fruit
Rough puff pastry - makes 1.2kg 500g plain flour
500g very cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 tsp salt
250ml ice-cold water
For the crème pâtissière - makes about 750g 6 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
40g plain flour
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
A little icing sugar or butter
For the rough puff pastry: Put the flour in a mound on the work surface and make a well. Put in the butter and salt and work them together with the fingertips of one hand, gradually drawing the flour in with the other hand. When the butter is in small pieces and the dough is grainy, gradually add the iced water and mix until it is all incorporated, but don't overwork the dough. Roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Flour the work surface and roll out the pastry into a 40 x 20cm rectangle.
Fold it into three and give it a quarter-turn. Roll the block of pastry out into a 40 x 20cm rectangle as before, and fold it into three again. These are the first 2 turns. Wrap the block of pastry in cling film and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Give the chilled pastry another 2 turns, rolling and folding as before. This makes a total of 4 turns, and the pastry is now ready. Wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
For the tarts: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 2mm thickness. Using a 12cm pastry cutter, cut out 6 discs. Brush a baking sheet with a little cold water and lift the pastry discs onto it. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180.C/Gas 4. Prick the pastry discs in 5 places with a fork. Divide the cr.me p.tissi.re between them and spread it evenly, leaving a narrow margin around the edge.
Peel the apples with a swivel peeler. Cut in half and remove the cores, then thinly slice each half. Arrange a sliced apple half over the crème pâtissière on each disc, radiating from the centre.
Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle generously with the caster sugar and cook for another 5 minutes. Take the tartlets out of the oven and immediately lift them onto a wire rack with a palette knife.
Halve the passion fruit and scrape out the pulp and seeds, using a teaspoon, directly onto the tartlets. Serve them warm, about 10 minutes after they come out of the oven.
For the crème pâtissière: Combine the egg yolks and one-third of the sugar in a bowl and whisk to a light ribbon consistency. Add the flour and whisk it in thoroughly. In a saucepan, heat the milk with the rest of the sugar and the vanilla pod. As soon as it comes to the boil, pour it on to the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you go. Mix well, then return the mixture to the saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring continuously with the whisk. Allow the mixture to bubble, still stirring, for 2 minutes, then tip it into a bowl. To prevent a skin forming, dust the surface with a veil of icing sugar or dot all over with little flakes of butter. Once cold, the pastry cream can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Remove the vanilla pod before using.RECOMMENDED WINE: We need a wine with enough exuberance to cope with the sweeter elements within the crème pâtissèrie, as well as standing toe to toe with any overriding acidity in the Cox apples. A match which immediately leapt to mind is the Mulderbosh late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Stellenbosch, South Africa. The fruit is affected by the natural fungus botrytis, concentrating the flavours to create a luscious nectar. A short time spent in new French oak barrels should pick up on the subtle vanilla nuances in the dish, and the honeyed richness, with flashes of orange zest and pineapple, is all kept in check with a zippy finish that will cope with the unruly passion fruit. Zeren Wilson is a food writer and wine consultant, who runs restaurant review site www.bittenandwritten.com