I know. Pumpkin pie is supposed to be, like, the thing this week. I am fully aware of this, and yet, I refuse to conform. I’ve just never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie; it’s okay, but I can take it or leave it. I am much more excited about other Thanksgiving/autumn desserts. Things that include apples and maple and brown sugar and caramel. So when I saw this Apple-Maple Tart on Bake From Scratch, I stopped in my tracks, because this is just what I was looking for. It met all my needs of a) not a pie, b) not a pumpkin thing, and c) full of Fall flavors and spices. Oh, also it was absolutely beautiful and elegant and perfect for Thanksgiving. I tend to linger on apples well into pumpkin spice season, and I’m not even sorry about it.
This tart consists of a maple caramel-like filling (which is made more like a custard than a caramel) set in a pâte brisée crust and topped with candied apple slices. I couldn’t believe the crust actually stayed crisp for days; it was both flaky and crumbly, and didn’t get the least bit soggy. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor or sweetness itself, but the maple filling is super sweet, so it works well. The only surprising thing is that the recipe makes way more than you need for one tart. Once I had rolled out the dough thin enough and pressed it into the pan, there was so much dough left that I put it in the freezer for future use. I suppose you could cut the dough recipe in half, but I’m not sure if half the ingredients would fill the food processor enough to mix the dough properly. (Or maybe that makes no sense at all, but anyway, why not have pâte brisée on deck for a tart whenever you feel like it?)
Caramels and custards are not my forté, so I was worried that the filling would be a mess. It looks like caramel when it’s done, but the process includes tempering eggs like making a custard. There were some remnants of sugar and egg solids in my mixture, so I just strained it through a fine-mesh sieve right over the tart crust, and it was (surprisingly) beautiful and smooth. In fact, it’s fairly resilient– I accidentally got a piece of plastic wrap stuck on the surface, and I managed to scrape off the sticky filling, but I thought it was ruined for sure; fortunately it smoothed itself out with zero problems (although the apple slices would’ve hidden any imperfections anyway). The filling didn’t seem to be enough for the crust at first, but once I added the apples, I saw that the ratio of crust to filling/topping was just right.
The candied apple slices infuse a lovely apple aroma into the maple syrup and they are simple to make. You do need to work quickly on this step because the syrup will burn if you cook it too long. I had to cook the apples in batches and didn’t get through all them, but I had enough to cover the tart.
If you love apple desserts for Thanksgiving as much as I do, this will be a beautiful and delicious treat on your dessert table!
Adapted from Bake from Scratch
Yields 1 9″ inch tart
The dough recipe makes enough for 2 tarts. Stick half in the freezer for another use, or double the filling and apples and make a second tart.
For the pâte brisée dough:
- 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons (155g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon cold water
For the maple filling:
- 1½ cups (500g) pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup (60g) heavy whipping cream
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup (32g) cornstarch
- ¼ cup (60g) water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
For the candied apple slices:
- ½ cup (170g) pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 small red apples (280g), thinly sliced crosswise
Make the pâte brisée dough:
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until combined. Add the cold butter cubes, and pulse until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Whisk together the eggs and 1 tablespoon water in a small measuring cup with a spout. With the machine running, stream in the egg mixture slowly just until the dough comes together in large clumps. Dump the dough onto a clean work surface and divide it in half. Bring each half together into a ball with your hands, then shape them into disks and wrap them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours before using it. (At this point you can freeze one piece of dough for later use.)
Preheat an oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 10-inch circle. Carefully transfer it to a 9″ round tart pan with a removable bottom and press it evenly and gently into the bottom and up the sides. Trim any excess dough from the top edge of the pan with your fingers or by rolling your rolling pin over the pan. Tidy the edges and prick the dough all over with a fork. Line the dough with a large piece of parchment paper, making sure to push it into the corners. Fill the tart crust with pie weights (I use dried beans), again making sure they are tucked into the corners of the pan all the way around.
Bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully pull the parchment paper and weights up and out. Bake the crust for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the crust is dry to the touch and lightly golden brown. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
Make the maple filling:
In a medium saucepan, stir together the maple syrup and heavy cream and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove it from the heat.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Gradually stream the hot maple syrup mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour it back into the saucepan, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Bring it back to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, until the maple mixture has thickened, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the butter and lime juice, and let the mixture cool slightly. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. If you have bits of egg or sugar in your mixture, hold a fine-mesh sieve over the crust and pour the filling through the sieve and into the crust. Refrigerate the tart until the filling is set, about 2 hours. (If you plan to store it in the fridge for a longer period of time, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, being careful not to let the plastic touch the filling’s surface.)
Make the candied apple slices:
Combine the maple syrup and lime juice in a large skillet and set it over a medium-heat burner. Cover the bottom of the pan with a single layer of apple slices. Bring the syrup to a boil and cook until the apples are softened and the syrup has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the apples to a cooling rack lined with parchment paper to cool completely. Keep adding batches of apples and repeat, working quickly to avoid the syrup burning. If it hasn’t burned (mine did, so I tossed it), reserve the syrup in the pan to drizzle over the tart, if desired.
Once cooled, spread the apple slices in a decorative pattern over the entire surface of the tart. Store the tart in the fridge for up to 3 days.
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2017.