If you want a beautiful desert, where apples are the star, then you need to try this Tarte au pommes (French for apple tart). This beautiful tart will impress in appearance and taste. The flavor is light enough that people will be coming back for more. (I know I did).
Special Equipment: 9 inch fluted tart pan, baking beans (if you can get them)
For the crust (or purchase 9 inch store-bought pie dough)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
7 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and diced
¼ cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
For the filling
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 lb 10 oz (750g) cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped (such as Braeburn, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp) about 4-5 small apples
½ cup sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp apple juice
2-3 desert apples (such as Fuji, Gala, or McIntosh)
2 tbsp apricot jam, sieved
1. In a bowl, rub the flour and butter together until they form fine crumbs, like damp sand. Stir in the sugar. Beat the egg yolks with the vanilla extract and add them to the flour mixture. Bring together to form a soft dough, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Roll out the pastry to 1/8inch (3mm) thick. Being fragile, it may crumble. If so, bring it together with your hands and gently knead. Use the rolled out pastry to line the pan, trimming off excess. Prick the pastry base all over with a fork to keep air bubbles from forming during baking.
3. Carefully line the pastry shell with parchment paper. Scatter the baking beans over the paper (if you do not have baking beans, you can place a light weight baking tin on the parchment paper to weight it down.) Bake for 10 minutes, making sure the crust does not get to brown. Remove the baking beans (or baking tin) and paper and bake for 5 minutes until a light golden color.
4. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the diced cooking apples. (*I toss the apples in lemon juice while preparing, to keep from browning). Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until soft and mushy.
5. Push the cooked apple through a sieve, or use an immersion blender, to produce a smooth puree, then return to the saucepan. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and add the rest to the apple puree, then stir in the lemon zest and apple juice. Return the pan to the heat and simmer, stirring continuously until it thickens.
6. Spoon the puree into the pastry crust. Peel, core, and thinly slice the desert apples and toss in lemon juice. Arrange on fop of the puree. Sprinkle with the reserve sugar.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the apple slices have softened and are starting to turn pale golden.
8. Warm the apricot jam and brush over the top. Cut into slices and serve.