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Rachael's sister, Maria, bakes store-bought puff pastry shells + fills them with a chunky spiced apple-walnut compote.
"We live in apple country and our family loves apples," says Maria, who bakes with them often. Her latest creation is something she calls apple puffs, baked apples stuffed in puff pastry. Maria says that Rachael isn't a crazy sweets person, but she does love fruits and nuts, so this is a good go-to recipe for the family.
Pro Tip from Maria: She likes to use a variety of apples to combine that tangy-tart sweetness, and it’s good to add some of the harder apples because they hold up better when cooking at high temperatures.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spread walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and transfer to a dish to cool.
Bake puff pastry shells according to package directions. Remove from oven and turn off oven. Cut the top off of each pastry shell, then remove the soft insides and discard. Put tops back on top of the shells and put into the cooling oven for 15 minutes to dry and crisp. Remove from oven and set aside.
Peel, core and cut the Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp apples into 12 to 16 equal slices.
Put apples in a medium saucepan and add the boiled cider, brown sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss together and heat over medium-high heat. While the apples start to cook down, peel, core and grate the Macintosh apple and add to the saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat for 10 minutes to stabilize the pectin while keeping the structure of the fruit and creating a thick syrup.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Coarsely chop the cooled walnuts or put them in a bag and crush with a rolling pin. Stir walnuts and cranberries into the apples. Transfer the mixture to an 8-by-8-inch baking dish or a pie plate and bake for 35 minutes.
Toss the apples and fill the pastry shells, then put the pastry tops on top of the apples. Serve with a slice of cheddar cheese and sliced apple. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, serve with ice cream or a drizzle of caramel sauce.