Mid to late winter I always end up with some apples that are just not quite that sweet on their own. Glazed with some maple syrup and butter and combined with two of my other foods (bacon and cheese), there is a real winning combination. This makes me forget that winter goes on so long in Chicago.
This recipe is a bit nostalgic in that it plays up the collaboration between bacon and maple syrup that has been happening on breakfast plates for years.
I used a lightly sweetened tart dough, so the candy like bacon mixture and apples can shine. Also, I made enough for two tartlets, and I just freeze any leftover dough for more tarts or cookies later on. Leftover apples make a good start to a quick German apple pancake.
Tart Dough (Can do night before): Cream together butter, and if using lard, with sugar until smooth. Mix in completely the salt, vanilla extract and egg yolk. Add AP flour and mix until combined. I then form it into a disk and place in a zip bag overnight.
The day you make the tarts: Preheat oven to 350.On a well floured surface roll out pastry dough into 5-6 inch circles and lay in tartlet pans (mine are 4 inches), remove any excess dough and fill in any cracks. Bake for about 15 minutes with weights or pierced with fork. While you are baking the tart shells, you can also cook the bacon to save time.
Candied Bacon: Cook at 350 on a cooling rack in a half sheet pan for about 20-25 minutes (just a little crispy and lightly browned) will cook more on stove top. Remove from oven and let cool. Chop bacon coarsely. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter, add chopped bacon, brown sugar and 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup. Mix over medium-low to medium heat until combined. Add cornstarch and flour, and mix until they have dissolved, and syrup thickens. Remove from heat and reserve.
Glazed Apples: Melt 1 Tablespoons of Butter over medium heat, add apples, 2 Tablespoons of Maple syrup and water. Reduce to a glaze stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes.
I filled the tarts first with the bacon. If the syrup is too thick, you can thin it a splash of hot water. Then arranged the apples in an overlapping circle. Finally, grate cheddar cheese to taste.
Right before you are ready to serve, broil to melt cheese and get bacon syrup sizzling.