November 11, 2010

Brown Butter Apple Tart

This summer, we tried an enticing recipe from Bon Appétit - brown butter raspberry tart. It sounded like a very good idea, and it was - the easiest tart crust we've ever made (no rolling - you just make a dough and press it into the pan), and a rich filling of browned butter, sugar, vanilla, a bit of flour, and eggs poured over raspberries. We've already gotten a little bit carried away talking about the wonderfulness of baked apple desserts (or, um "breakfasts"), so no need to go into that again, other than to say that if brown butter raspberry tart is a good idea, brown butter apple tart is an excellent idea.

This is one that we wanted to test out as a possible Thanksgiving dessert for this year, and though we still have some other ideas to try (warm gingerbread?), this one is definitely a winner. In my house, my mom always made a pumpkin pie and a classic French apple tart (which is much more virtuous than this apple tart). This dessert offers what I think are some of the best qualities of both: the rich fall-spiced custardy-ness of the pumpkin pie, plus the flavor and texture of baked apples. With the added bonus of rich, nutty brown butter. I would say that this dessert saves me from having to choose between the two, but the truth is I never chose between the two. I always ate them both. And then again for breakfast.

The only thing we would change from the first effort would be to add more apples; we would cut the slices as thing as possible and overlap them more in the bottom of the pan (but make sure to leave some crevices for the batter to fill up). Oh, and this is definitely a dessert that you want to eat hot. With ice cream.

Brown Butter Apple Tart (makes one ten-inch tart; serves 8-10)
Adapted from Lori Longbotham, Bon Appétit, June 2009

- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup and 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a fork, stir together all ingredients until they're well combined. Put the dough into the tart pan and use your fingers to gently press it into the bottom of the pan and up the sides (start at the middle and work your way out).

Bake the crust for 18 minutes (it will be slightly browned and puffed), then let it cool in the pan on a wire rack. Keep the oven on for the next step.

- 2 medium apples (choose tart apples with firm flesh, like Granny Smith or Pink Lady)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (maybe a bit more, if you like cinnamon - we do)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger

First, brown the butter by heating it in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently and monitor carefully to make sure that it doesn't burn. The butter will foam, then you will see the solids separate out (they look like little white clumps at the bottom of the pan). You will see the solids start to turn brown, but you will also be able to smell it - wait for a rich, nutty smell (this usually takes about 6 - 8 minutes). Pour the butter immediately into a mixing bowl (to make sure it doesn't burn).

Add the sugar, eggs, salt, flour, vanilla, and spices to the brown butter, and whisk together until smooth. Adjust the seasonings if you like - you might want to add cloves or allspice, or additional cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg.

Slice the apples into thin wedges and arrange them in the bottom of the tart crust (make sure that there are some spaces for the brown butter deliciousness to fill in). Slowly pour the batter over the apples, making sure to distribute it evenly throughout the crust (you can use a spatula to spread it out if you need to).

Put the tart pan onto a rimmed cookie sheet and bake 40 minutes (until the center has puffed up and browned on top, and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean). Let the tart cool at least a little bit on a wire rack, until you can't take the smell any more and must douse it with whipped cream or ice cream and devour it!

No comments:

Post a Comment