Hunger Games-Inspired Apple Cream Cheese Tarts

I was introduced to The Hunger Games books two years ago by Gibb. She had read the first book, wasn’t sure I’d like it but wanted me to give it a shot anyway. She made me promise not to read the back or the inner flap let alone Google the book. I did as I was told and distinctly remember (This is important because I will be the first to tell you that I have early-onset Alzheimer’s. And then forget I told you that.) letting out an audible gasp after the first chapter. I was absolutely hooked.

So imagine my delight when I came across this interesting article on Huff Post one morning. A cookbook full of recipes inspired by The Hunger Games? Too fun! Let the (cashing in) games begin!

After reminiscing on The Hunger Games through food, I decided to try my hand at the apple goat cheese tarts. My quick trip to the grocery store yielded no goat cheese so I turned them into apple cream cheese tarts instead. While thinking of how yummy they would be, I was reminded of an open-faced sandwich I made using apples cooked in honey and thyme and thought that would be a nice twist.

To make these Hunger Games-inspired apple cream cheese tarts, you’ll need:

3 Granny Smith apples

1 cup sherry/apple juice (especially if making for kids)

1 cup honey

5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 T lemon juice

1 t lemon zest

a pinch salt

8 0z. cream cheese

1 rolled out puff pastry sheet (available in Santi’s)

1. I started by getting my poaching liquid warmed on low heat. In a medium pan, pour in the sherry or apple juice and honey. Add in thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly and keep an eye on it so it simmers at most but never comes to a boil.

2. Peel, halve and slice the apples thinly, about 1/8 inch thick.

3. Put the sliced apples into the pan and let cook until they get soft and have browned somewhat, about 15 minutes. When done, transfer the apples to a separate bowl and let cool.

4. You can wait until the apples are done or start on the puff pastry and cream cheese while the apples are poaching. If you’re using puff pastry blocks, roll them out. Since mine were already rolled out, I just had to wait a bit for it to thaw slightly and go straight to slicing it into 6 equal parts. Transfer them to a baking tray and poke holes within half an inch of the edges with a fork.

5. Slice the cream cheese into 6 equal blocks. One block of cream cheese goes on one square of puff pastry. Break it up with your fingers and scatter on top. This will be messy and there will be lots of cream cheese to be licked off your fingers once you’re done (yay!). If your apples are still poaching/not quite cooled at this point, you can put the baking tray in the fridge. If and when your apples are ready, fan them out on top of the cream cheese.

Do not throw away the poaching liquid. Take out the thyme and let it simmer for about 20 more minutes then leave it to cool.

6. And now we’re ready to bake! They will take about 2o minutes (or until the puff pastry turns golden brown) in an oven preheated to 205C/400F. When they’re done, brush the reduced poaching liquid on top.

Garnish with thyme from the poaching liquid. Enjoy – if you were in The Hunger Games and eating this, you are from District 1 and rich!

It’s impossible to go wrong with puff pastry, it’s true, but this was such a delicious combination! I’m keeping the leftover reduced poaching liquid to drizzle over vanilla ice cream. The yumminess doesn’t end!

Fun Food Fact: Honey keeps indefinitely and will probably outlast you.


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