elimination challenge: fire!

Ever wanted to light something on fire?  Well… I guess not just something… but your baking?  I have.  I’ve wanted to flambé bananas, apples, sauces over cakes… but I haven’t.  Until last night.  That’s right… last night I lit some apples on fire… and loved every single moment of it!

It’s elimination challenge time!  The Top Chef Just Dessert’s cheftestants were challenged with building a chocolate show piece and lighting something on fire!  I had a moment of panic… would I have to build a chocolate show piece???  I wasn’t the only one wondering, so Kelly (@evilshenanigans) clarified – we could either make a chocolate show piece or we could use fire.  I opted for fire!

Since this was the first time I would set anything alight (that wasn’t a campfire or a s’more), I wanted to make sure that I got it right (and didn’t cause any kind of damage).  First up – text to my mom.  Every Christmas my mother (like her mother before her), presents us with a plum pudding – a cake covered in Grand Marnier and set alight.  Every year all of us greet it with cheers… and then eagerly dig in.  I figured my mother would be able to provide me with some solid advice.  She suggested that I heat the alcohol before pouring it over the cake and lighting it on fire. 

Ok… but how long do I heat it?  How much do I heat?  The only thing clear in my head at this point was… use a long match!  I trust my mother… but I felt that I needed a second opinion.  I texted Charlotte.

me:   to flambé sailor jerry’s – heat it first?

charlotte: if you heat it, it catches on fire

me: I want it to catch on fire. 

charlotte:  Use a long match or something… be careful

Well… since Charlotte basically reinforced what my mother had told me… it was time to get started.

Out came the puff pastry, a couple apples and some cheddar cheese… oh yes… and my bottle of Sailor Jerry’s rum.  90% proof… this was going to be FUN.  I decided to make an upside down flambéed apple-cheddar tart… it sounds delish doesn’t it?  It was.  I was even able to watch the episode this challenge was based on, as my puff pastry baked in the oven, while I peeled and cored my apples, and sliced my cheddar cheese.

I think my tart could have competed with Zac’s Chocolate Cake with Fambéed Cherries, Morgan’s Almond Cream with Spiced Cherry Flambé, or Yigit’s Almond Mirliton Flambéed with Bourbon Peaches.  Considering last week’s challenge took me two attempts to get it right (and I made it again on the weekend and it turned out even BETTER), I am pretty darn pleased with myself!  Claps!!!

I only made a couple of tarts – since I was really only making them for this challenge.  I would have brought them into work… but I didn’t think a flambé would have the same effect the following day – not really a travel friendly treat for my colleagues or friends… but it was based on a recipe that serves 8.  I’m going to provide you with the original inspiration recipe – that way you can impress friends, family… heck, even just yourself over and over again, by lighting these babies on fire and eating them!

upside down flambéed apple-cheddar tart

ingredients:

1 x sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator.

4 medium apples – pick your favourite type – but I heart something tart and crisp

4 tbsp salted butter

8 thin slices extra-old white cheddar (about 1/8 inch thick)

4 ounces Sailor Jerry’s rum (or rum of your choosing)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry – you want to get it to a 12×15-inch rectangle. 

Grab a 3-inch round cookie cutter (or biscuit mold), and cut out 8 disks from the pastry dough. 

Prick each disk all over with a fork. 

Arrange them on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper – and bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, peel and core the apples (hint… use an apple corer… I didn’t and I had to use 3 apples for 2 tarts… sigh.  Good thing I like apples!).  Cut off a piece from each end, creating two flat surfaces.  Then cut the apples in half (along the equator) – you end up with 8 slices of apple.  You want them to be the same size as the puff pastry – use your cookie round if needed to trim the apple rings down.

Heat 2 tbsp of butter in an oven-proof skillet, add 4 apple rings to the pan, and cook until the slices are golden-brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the pan, add the remaining butter and apple slices and repeat. 

Once completed, return the first batch of apples to the pan and bake all of them in the oven (keep your oven at 350 F) until tender and slightly caramelized – about 40 minutes (reduce if baking less rings – my 2 only took 20 minutes).

Remove from the oven, add 1 slice of cheese on top of each apple ring, return to the oven and allow the cheese to melt – about 1 minute.  

Top each apple – cheese combo with the puffed pastry disks.  Return to the oven for another minute or so – you want the cheese to be completely melted. 

At this point, grab a good couple of ounces of Sailor Jerry’s (or whatever rum you choose to use), pour it into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat for a few minutes.

Now to have some fun.

Remove the skillet from the oven and flip each disk over – so that the puff pastry is on the bottom and the apple is on the top – the melted cheese happily wedged in between the two. 

Pour the warmed rum over each tart – and light them!  Make sure you use either a long match or a lighter with a long handle. 

It looked so pretty: I wasn’t able to take a picture of the flame though!  Sorry! – I feel a bit like Yigit’s team who didn’t flambé their peaches in front of the judges… a big no-no! 

I can’t wait to make this again… this time for other people.  AND – perhaps for brunch… what about adding some bacon to the mix?  And a poached egg?  Oh yum……

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