Brunost rose apple tarts with Aquavit glaze
Brunost is a cheese that requires you to adjust your expectations. Some would dispute its cheese label. Cheese is made from the curds produced in separating milk into curds and whey. Like Ricotta, brunost, or gjetost as it is also known, is made from the whey by product. To make brunost, whey is combined with goats milk and cream and boiled for several hours. The milk sugars caramelise and result in a firm, brown coloured end product.
It’s not an attractive product, but the taste is a pleasant surprise. It’s a combination of salted, caramel, fudge – like taste with a slight astringency that comes from the goats milk. At first taste, you involuntarily react in the same way as you do when you suck on a lemon. The hit is a shock to the taste buds. But on the second slice, you know what to expect and you start to break down the flavour profile and ideas for what to pair it with begin to surface.
Norwegians classically eat it with waffles or add it to game stews. A Norwegian friend, who introduced it to me this year when I spent the summer by a fjord, likes it simple – on a hunk of bread, hacked off a freshly made loaf with a strong cup of coffee.
Brunost is intrinsically woven into Norway’s gastronomic and food heritage. It is as ubiquitous as Knausgaard, fjords and the Northern lights. And Norwegians can be pretty evangelistic about it too. For me, it has that sweet / savoury flavour that can add depth to sweet dishes. Like salt in caramel, it intensifies the flavour. Adding Brunost to the recipe for these tartlets elevates them and contributes another level of flavour.
Classic short crust pastry
- 200g flour
- 100g grams organic butter (very cold)
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g brunost, grated
- 1 egg, beaten
- 60g brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp grated lemon zest
- 4 red eating apples
- Juice ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp Aqavit jelly (you can use apricot jam)
Chop the butter into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Add the flour and using your fingertips begin to rub the fat and flour together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a couple of table spoons of water and bring together to form a dough. Don’t over work it. Shape into a ball, cover in cling film and place into a refidgerator to rest. Ideally overnight, or at least a couple of hours. If you use it without allowing it to rest, it will shrink when you bake it.
Once rested, roll out to a ½ cm thickness and cut into circles larger than your tartlet tins. Grease and flour your tart tines. You could also use a large tart tin. Lightly press the pastry into the tins, leaving a lip of extra pastry hanging over the edge. Place a sheet of grease proof paper in each of the tins and sprinkle some baking beans into each tin to help keep their shape. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and bake for a further five minutes.
For the filling, place the ground almonds, brunost, cinnamon, egg and sugar into a bowl with a little grated lemon zest and mix. When the pastry cases are cool, place a spoonful of the mixture into each one, making sure that it is spread out inside to the edges.
For the apple roses, slice and apple in half lengthways, remove the core and then thinly slice. Place the apples into a saucepan of water and a squeeze of lemon juice and heat on a medium heat. Cook the apples until they are tender. You could also microwave them for three minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Take the first apple slice and roll into a tight coil, adding another and another until you start to form a rose shape. Place into the filling and add more ‘petal’ slices until you fill the tart.
Take the aquavit jelly. You could use apricot jam, and heat on a low heat in a saucepan. When it has melted into a liquid form, brush the petals with it using a pastry brush.
Bake in the oven for approximately 20 – 25 minutes.