Fall is just around the corner! I've missed fall, the changing leaves, crisp air, cider and donuts and, of course, fresh picked apples. I remember as a child picking apples right off the trees at a local orchard. They were crisp with just the right combination of tart and sweet.
I contemplated waiting to post this recipe until after labor day, when fall officially starts, but those beautiful apples in the fridge kept calling to me; begging to be made into a crisp, strudel or pie. I begrudgingly, but happily, gave in and pulled them from the fridge. What can I make that is easy, tastes delicious, and strays slightly from the traditional? Almond-Vanilla Apple Tarts! Simple, elegant and oh-so-delicious!!
I know what you are thinking..... That is a very long title for a dessert. Well, I have to agree, but I couldn't think of any other way to describe in one line the deliciousness that is Vanilla Fleur de sel Dulce de leche.
While living in California I had the opportunity to work for a non-profit that fed low income children. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a chef. The children were beautiful and it was a pleasure to introduce them to healthy eating while maintaining a budget. Every Wednesday I would go into the classroom and we would have a kids-kitchen cooking session. Often times I learned about a food item or dish that I had never heard of, due to the ethnic diversity of the children. Once monthly, I asked a parent to bring in a treat that represented their culture or family. This is how I was introduced to sweet, delicious dulce de leche.
"Dulce de leche is a sweet prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelized sugar. Literally translated, it means "candy of milk" or "candy [made] of milk", "milk candy", or "milk jam" in the same way that "dulce de frutilla" is strawberry jam. It is popular in South America, notably in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. In Chile and Ecuador, it is known as manjar. In Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, it is referred to as manjar blanco or arequipe, depending on regional variations. In Brazil, it is known by its Portuguese name doce de leite. Dulce de Leche is believed to have been created in Argentina in 1829 in Cañuelas, Buenos Aires”. (wikipedia.com)
The traditional way to make Dulce de leche is to slowly boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk. I find that this method sometimes lacks the complexity in other caramel sauces. So, I altered tradition and adapted my own recipe to include Beanilla Vanilla Fleur de sel. Vanilla Fleur de Sel
Beanilla's Vanilla Fleur Del Sel is hand harvested sea salt from the Brittany region of France. Ground Tahitian vanilla beans are added to the salt to add a sweet floral note. The Fleur de sel adds a complexity to the sauce and the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Dulce de leche beautifully complements classic vanilla ice cream, can be drizzled over cream puffs, used as a filling for chocolate tarts, added to chocolate truffles and sprinkled on caramels or just simply eaten straight off the spoon (my personal favorite!).