This is one of my favorite appetizers to serve for a party; they are a cinch to make and will surprise your guests with the unexpected combination of caramelized apple, blue cheese, and tarragon. The key is to use a good, crisp-cooking apple and then really caramelize it deeply, like you see in the picture. Using both a quickly made tarragon oil and the fresh leaves is a good trick to amp up the flavor.
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
Time: 20 minutes
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
16 thin slices of crusty baguette
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 small apples such as Pink Lady, cut into 16 wedges
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup blue cheese (such as Blue de Causses or Gorgonzola dolce), at room temperature
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon a.k.a. the world’s greatest salt) or large-crystal sea salt (such as red Hawaiian salt)
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400º.
Set aside 32 nice looking tarragon leaves. In a mortar and pestle or mini food processor, roughly purée 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 1/2 teaspoon of the blue cheese, a speck of the crushed tarragon, two whole tarragon leaves, and a few grains of sea salt.