Sunday, November 29, 2015

French Apple Tart (Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen)

The long Thanksgiving weekend came and went again here in the US. There's always a big feast of yummy dishes and of course a lot of great times with friends and loved ones. I always get excited about Thanksgiving because I get to make extravagant dishes that I normally do not make on a regular weekday night or even a weekend night.

This year, we had some steamed snow crab legs with a lemon garlic dressing, a trio squash soup with a hint of ginger, a sauteed kale with mushrooms and a savoury Japanese style soba noodles with black sesame seeds. And we topped the night off with a wonderful French Apple Tart.

This recipe I can't take all the credit for. I adapted it from a recipe from the America's Test Kitchen. I have always been a big fan of apple pies and apple tarts. And I fell in love with this really simple recipe when I saw it on TV. And this is the season for apples so I thought why not make an apple tart instead of the traditional pumpkin pie? And it came out BEAUTIFULLY! So proud of myself!

But I couldn't make the recipe as is because it calls for sugar and butter. So I had to spend some time figuring out how to adapt it. Instead of refined sugar, I used coconut palm sugar instead. It gave the crust a darker color and also a more caramelized flavor which is awesome! And instead of butter, I used coconut oil instead and adjusted the flour amount to account for the difference in water content in coconut oil. I also further simplified the method by using apricot jam instead of apricot preserves and completely skipped the step of removing the water content from the apricot preserves in the original recipe.


Crust (for a 8 inch pie crust):
7.7 oz all-purpose flour or gluten free flour of choice
2.25 oz coconut palm sugar
½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

10 Golden Delicious apples (about 6 ounces each), peeled and cored
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon water
½ cup apricot jam (of which about 2 tablespoons for brushing tart)
¼ teaspoon salt

1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust 1 oven rack to lowest position and second rack 5 to 6 inches from broiler element. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in bowl. Add melted coconut oil and stir with wooden spoon until dough forms. Using your hands, press two-thirds of dough into bottom of 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press remaining dough into fluted sides of pan. Press and smooth dough with your hands to even thickness. Place pan on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and bake on lowest rack, until crust is deep golden brown and firm to touch, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Set aside until ready to fill.
2. FOR THE FILLING: Cut 4 apples lengthwise into quarters and cut each quarter lengthwise into 4 slices. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in good size skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices and water and toss to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples begin to turn translucent and are slightly pliable, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer apples to large plate, spread into single layer, and set aside to cool. Do not clean skillet.
3. Cut remaining 6 apples into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Melt remaining coconut oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add all but 2 tablespoons of apricot jam, apple wedges, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft, about 10 minutes.
5. Remove apples to a bowl and mash apples to desired consistency. If the apples gave off a lot of liquid, be careful to not dump all the liquid into the bowl for mashing. You can the mashed apples to be thick and not to liquid.
6. Transfer mashed apple to baked tart shell and smooth surface. Select 5 thinnest slices of sautéed apple and set aside. Starting at outer edge of tart, arrange remaining slices, tightly overlapping, in concentric circles. Bend reserved slices to fit in center. Brush top of tart with remaining apricot jam. Bake tart, still on wire rack in sheet, on lowest rack, for 30 minutes.
7. Broil tart, checking every 30 seconds and turning as necessary, until apples are attractively caramelized, 1 to 3 minutes. Let tart cool for at least 1 1/2 hours. Remove outer metal ring of tart pan, slide thin metal spatula between tart and pan bottom, and carefully slide tart onto serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve.
If you do not have a tart pan with a removable bottom, do not fret that you have to invest in another kitchen tool. You can use a regular 8-inch cake pan as well. You won’t have the fluted edges but the tart is still going to taste awesome. Line the cake pan with parchment paper. When the tart is done, you can lift the whole tart out of the cake pan by pulling on the sides of the parchment paper and the help of a spatula to support the bottom of the tart as you remove it from the pan.

TO MAKE AHEAD: The baked crust, apple slices, and apple puree can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Apple slices and apple puree should be refrigerated separately in airtight containers. Assemble tart with refrigerated apple slices and puree and bake as directed, adding 5 minutes to baking time.

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