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I am all about mouth-watering flavor, but I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen. What I’ve realized through my years of cooking is your recipes are only as good as the quality of your ingredients. So one of my favorite desserts to make during the fall and winter months is a French apple tart. With fresh from the market apples full of flavor, homemade (if possible) apricot jelly, a touch of a decadent liquor and a buttery tart shell that will melt in your mouth, you will be amazed how so few ingredients can cause your tastebuds to do the happy dance. Barefoot Contessa’s French apple tart is the perfect choice for dessert. A dessert that isn’t too heavy or rich, but provides that subtle sweetness I usually crave while cleansing my palette at the end of a wonderful evening with family and friends.
Pair with ice cream (vanilla or dulce de leche) or enjoy all on its own as you sip a cup of hot tea or coffee. Your guests will be impressed as it looks as scrumptious as it tastes, and you won’t have to be in the kitchen for hours prior to your soiree or dinner party.
French Apple Tart
~from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients
For the Pastry
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1/2 cup ice water
For the Apples
- 4 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (small cubes)
- 1/2 cup apricot jelly
- 2 tablespoons orange/raspberry liqueur, rum or water
- For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
- Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.