ROSY POSY apple tartS

Makes 9.

Note: We liked the flavor and texture of SweeTango apples, but any good baking apple will work. Just make sure apples have the reddest skin possible. From Kim Ode.

Filling

• 6 oz. (3/4 of an 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, room temperature

• 1/4 c. powdered sugar

• 2 tbsp. apple jelly

• 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to pkg. directions

Glaze

• 1 egg yolk

• 1 tbsp. milk

• 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Roses

• 3 c. water

• 1 tbsp. lemon juice

• 2 large apples (see Note)

• 2 tbsp. apple jelly, melted in the microwave

• Decorative sparkling sugar, if desired

Directions

With an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons apple jelly until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Unwrap the puff pastry on a well floured surface. It will be 9- by 9-inches square. Using a ruler as a guide, roll the pastry into a 12- by 12-inch square. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, straighten the edges, if necessary. Cut into nine 4- by 4-inch squares. Place on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper (or sprayed with baking spray).

In a small bowl, beat together the yolk, milk and cinnamon with a fork. Paint each pastry square with glaze, taking care to cover the entire surface, but keeping glaze from spilling over onto the baking sheet.

In the center of each square, place a generous tablespoon of cream cheese mixture. Place pans in refrigerator to chill.

In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups water and lemon juice.

Cut each apple in half. Remove the cores (a melon baller does a great job; otherwise, scoop carefully with a small spoon) along with stems and blossom ends. Placing the apple half cut-side down, and using your sharpest small knife, slice from top to bottom as thinly as possible. Submerge slices in lemon water.

Place racks in the bottom and middle positions and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange about 1/3 of the apple slices on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 2 minutes. Crumple a paper towel to make nooks and crannies in which you can prop the apple roses. Or use a mini-muffin pan.

With another paper towel, dab softened apples to absorb any excess juice. Begin forming a rose by rolling 1 apple slice into a tight spiral. Wrap another slice, always skin side up, around this bud, then repeat with 5 to 6 more slices. If the slices aren't pliable enough, return to the microwave for 30 more seconds.

Place rose on the crumpled paper towel to "set up" and repeat with the remaining apple slices — microwaving, dabbing, wrapping and propping — until you have 9 roses. There will be extra slices, which we'll use in a minute.

Take pastry squares out of the refrigerator and place a rose in the center of each dollop of filling, anchoring firmly. Press remaining slices into filling, curving around the rose to create more petals. You can make tiny rosebuds from smaller slices, placing them so they peek out from under the larger rose. (Consider any remaining apple slices a snack!)

With a pastry brush, carefully brush melted apple jelly over each rose so it glistens, then sprinkle with a pinch of decorative sparkling sugar, if desired.

Place pans in oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown, switching pans on racks halfway through the baking time.

Cool on wire racks, and serve warm or at room temperature the same day. If desired, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 285 Fat 18 g Sodium 145 mg

Carbohydrates 29 g Saturated fat 6 g Calcium 32 mg

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 41 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges: ½ fruit, 1 bread/starch, ½ other carb, 3 ½ fat.