Today is international day at my baby brother’s school (guess since he’s 8 now I should stop calling him baby?). There are many different nationalities present at his school so at the end of the term they have an International Day + Open Day. Part of that means each parent/their daughter who conveniently bakes contributes a national dish or a dish that represents their country. My brother was actually born in Puerto Rico, but let’s be real: He’s Jamaican in every other sense. So I was left with the task of making the “Jamaican” dish.
Now I won’t lie to you: I kind of scratched my head first. See, my blog doesn’t really have any of the traditional Jamaican dishes. First I though plantain tarts but those probably wouldn’t photograph too well…Otaheite Apples! EAT-EE-OH-T Apples (not pronounced how it looks at all!). First, an introduction.
For my non-Jamaican readers; “American” apples don’t grow here! I know there are tons of types of “American” apples but I’m generalizing. We still import them, but our apple is actually much softer than the “American” apple. Its similar in colour, although sometimes more reddish-purplish. The inside as you can see from this picture I got from here, is white, soft and very juicy. Actually, I think because I grew up on American apples is the only reason I eat them more. I actually prefer the taste of the otaheite apple, especially immersed in sugary juice like I had it yesterday 🙂 They are also much larger in size, with a pecan sized seed.
Back to the tartelettes. Tartelettes aren’t in essence Jamaican. But these apples are. I’m settling here people. Now I didn’t really find a recipe for these tartelettes, but Enid Donaldson in her book The Real Taste of Jamaica, did have a recipe for otaheite apple pie. So I did a makeshift. I used my homemade pie crust, and my mini cupcake pans and started the process. I definitely changed her instructions, mostly due to my own preference. Plus, I was making these for children. Children who don’t want a “fresh” treat but a sweet one! So..the sugar count definitely went up. What I did think was interesting about this recipe is that you don’t peel the apples; as I said earlier, these apples are much softer, so the skin contributes so much to the flavour especially while boiling the apples.
Speaking of Jamaica, I do hope if you watched news last night wherever you are, you are aware of the good news! No further need to speak on that subject :). And I’m quite sure that you could use this recipe for “American” apples; I would just caramelize them with the sugar instead of boiling them until they got softer. Enjoy!
Otaheite Apple Tartelettes
Tartelettes aren’t in essence Jamaican. But these apples are and these delicious tarts are divine!
Mix the salt and flour together. Blend the shortening into the flour with a pastry blender, fork, or slightly with a food blender until crumbly. Steadily add water until the mixture becomes dough like.
Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then roll out.
Using a cookie cutter, cut circles, then place into the holes to form the tartelettes. Set aside. If you're like me and only have two mini cupcake pans, then make only half the dough, and while the tartelettes are baking, make the next set.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Thoroughly wash the apples, then chop them up into small pieces (like bite size pieces). Do not peel the otaheite apples!
Place apples into a pot and mix with 1 cup sugar and salt to taste. Pour in enough water until apples are covered (not immersed! So about 1 1/2 cup).
Set to boil, stirring once, until the red colour on the apples slightly fade, about 5 minutes of boiling. Remove from heat. Add in the next cup of sugar and mix. Let apples cool. Note: I added in an additional cup because I wanted the filling to be nice and sweet, not fresh. If you don't, feel free to skip this.
One by one, using a tablespoon, scoop apples with a little bit of sugar water mixture into each tartelette. The sugar water mixture bakes into a juicy filling so make sure each tartelette gets some. Fill all the way to the top.
Place into the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove, and let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes in pans. Then remove and place tartelettes on a wire rack to cool completely.