Would you trust me if I told you this is pretty much guaranteed to be the most delicious apple tart you've ever had?
(The correct response here is "YES!")
If you're skeptical....I dare you to make this. And everyone knows you can't back down from a dare.
The crust is crumbly, and just salty enough to complement the cinnamon vanilla custard hiding under those tasty apples. And the creme anglaise? I mean, bourbon + apples = magic. Duh.
Wait, did I scare you away with all this talk of creme anglaise? Is it because you're convinced you'll end up making milky vanilla scrambled eggs instead? I thought the same thing. But in all honesty, it's way more simple than you think it is. Give it a shot. Worst case scenario, you make scrambled eggs and waste a little bit of cream and milk. Best case, you've conquered your fears and have an awesome dessert sauce to show for it.
Oh, and you can leave the bourbon out of the creme anglaise, if you want. You know, in case you plan to share this with some children and don't really want to be feeding them alcohol. I guess that's a good enough excuse.
Alsatian Apple Tart
recipe (barely) adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
For the crust:
9" tart pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
For the rest of the tart:
1 pound apples - about 3 medium apples (I used Golden Delicious and Fuji apples)
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 TB sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg yolk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract or paste
To make the crust:
- Add the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt to the work bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
- Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces.
- Stir the egg yolk, just to break it up, and add it to the flour/butter mixture.
- When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before your reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change - heads up.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Very lightly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
- Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft. Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbread-like texture.
- Freeze the crust in the pan for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
- To partially bake (par-bake) the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust.
- Bake the crust 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.
- Transfer the pan to a cooling rack.
To finish the tart:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Put the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
- Peel the apples, cut them in half from top to bottom and remove the cores. Cut the apple halves lengthwise into slices (about 12 wedges from one half of an apple.)
- Lay apple slices in the tart shell in a circular pattern, overlapping a little. Pile a few slices in the center.
- Whisk together the cream, sugar, cinnamon, whole egg, egg yolk and vanilla.
- Pour over the apples. You may not be able to fit all the custard mixture in the tart -- that's ok. You don't want to overfill the tart shell and have custard spill over.
- Bake the tart for 50-55 minutes or until the apples can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Serve at room temperature with a powdered sugar dusting.
Bourbon Vanilla Creme Anglaise
recipe adapted from The Improv Kitchen
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk (I used 2%, although whole milk would be great and make for a thicker sauce)
1 TB vanilla paste
½ cup sugar
5 egg yolks
4 TBSP bourbon
pinch of sea salt
- In a medium saucepan, bring cream, milk, salt, and vanilla bean to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently.
- Cook for 5 - 6 minutes and then pull off the heat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until they turn slightly pale yellow and the sugar starts to dissolve.
- Slowly add in a splash of the cream mixture (1-2 tablespoons) into the yolks, whisking constantly.
- Slowly add more and more of the cream mixture into the egg mixture (a couple of tablespoons at a time for the first few additions). You want to gradually increase the temperature of the eggs so that they cook without scrambling.
- Return the cream/egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. You'll know it's done when you slide your finger down the back of the spoon and the line holds.
- Pour in the bourbon, stir, and remove the mixture from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve. This will make sure if you didn't properly temper the eggs that you keep any scrambled bits out.
- Pour into a container and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. The sauce can be made 2 - 3 days in advance.
- When you're ready to serve it, you can heat it up on the stove or in a microwave. It's good cold too. Depending on the type of dessert you're making. I'd go for cold with the apple tart.