Here’s a sneak peek at one of my favorite new appetizers in the cookbook. I’ll probably serve this a lot at book signing events because it is easy to do and pops with lots of flavor. The key is to use a good, crisp cooking apple and then really caramelize is deeply, like you see in the picture above. Using both a quickly-made tarragon oil and the fresh leaves is a good trick to amp up the flavor.
These crostini are a cinch to make, and they will surprise your guests with the unexpected combination of caramelized apple, blue cheese, and tarragon. Serve them with a crisp, dry white wine for an elegant pre-dinner snack.
I prefer a creamy blue cheese that will get a little melty on the warm apples, such as Blue de Causses, but any blue cheese will work. Instead of tarragon, you could also use basil or even arugula.
If you have any fancy finishing salts (which you can find at high-end food retailers), this is the perfect dish to use them on. A few grains will sit beautifully on top of the apples and add a bit of extra crunch and interest.
Caramelized Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini
Makes 16 crostini
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 16 thin slices of crusty baguette
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 small apples such as Pink Lady, cut into 16 wedges
- Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup blue cheese (such as Blue de Causses or Gorgonzola dolce), at room temperature
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt)) or large crystal sea salt (such as red Hawaiian salt)
- Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees.
- Set aside 32 nice looking tarragon leaves. In a mortar and pestle or mini food processor, roughly puree the remaining tarragon with the olive oil.
- Brush the baguette slices with the tarragon oil, reserving the crushed tarragon. Toast in the oven (on a baking sheet) or toaster oven until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the apples on in a single layer, working in batches if needed, until both sides are golden brown and somewhat tender, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of cayenne pepper and several grinds of black pepper.
- To serve, arrange two slices of cooked apple on each crostini. Top with ½ teaspoon of the blue cheese, a speck of the crushed tarragon, two whole tarragon leaves, and a few grains of sea salt.