Monday, October 24, 2011

From Paris Sweets: Toast-Point Apple Tart, Tarte aux Pommes au Pain de Mie

Toast-Point Apple Tart adapted from Lenôtre via Paris Sweets
Sometimes we play the warm spice theme a little too often with apple desserts. I’m certainly guilty of adding cinnamon and its friends with nary a second thought.

It’s as if we forget that apples are worthy enough to stand on their own.

And that’s why a nonspicy take on apples can be a welcome change.

Consider this Toast-Point Apple Tart from Lenôtre, which appears in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets.
Sliced apples are baked in a caramel cream. It’s appley, but not apple-ginger-nutmeg-cinnamoney.

And it’s sweet and custardy, a bit like apple pie and ice cream flavors.

Raisins and walnuts are strewn about, just in case there wasn’t enough textural interest going on.

But what really makes this tart different are the buttery brown sugar toast points. A true touch of unexpected whimsy. A slight nod to pain perdu because the bottoms of the toast soak up the caramel cream while the tops stay crisp.

Not entirely certain how this tart should look, I scoured the Internet for photos but found nothing. Dorie’s directions were pretty clear, though, and at some point I worked intuitively. After all, whimsy should not be contrived.

Bake this using Dorie’s sweet tart dough, or your own favorite sweet dough, because a sturdy, cookie-like crust holds up well to this heavier custard and fruit filling.

Give the cinnamon a rest.

Toast Point Apple Tart
adapted from Lenotre via Paris Sweets

One partially baked 10 in tart shell made from sweet tart dough

2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced into eighths ( I used Jonagold)
2 T unsalted butter
2 T sugar
Pulp of 1/4 vanilla bean (I used 1/2 t vanilla bean paste)

Sauté the apples until they are a little bit browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla and cook until the apples are lightly caramelized, another 5 minutes or so. Transfer the apples to a plate using a slotted spoon. Let cool to room temperature. (Cook’s treat: Let the sauté pan cool, then feel free to enjoy the leftover bit of buttery sweet apple syrup.)

Toast Points
3 T unsalted butter at room temperature
2 t light brown sugar
7 slices firm white bread, crusts removed

To make the toast points, preheat the broiler or use a toaster oven. Beat butter and sugar together. Spread on one side of each piece of bread. Place the bread on a baking pan and toast under the broiler. Turn over and toast the other side. Cut each slice in half on the diagonal. Let cool to room temperature.

Caramel Cream
1 1/4 c heavy cream
1 large egg
3 l egg yolks
1/3 c sugar
Pulp of 1/4 vanilla bean (I used 1/2 t vanilla bean paste)

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a saucepan or using the microwave. In a separate, large measuring cup with pouring spout, beat the egg, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until thick and pale. Whisking gently, gradually mix the hot cream into the eggs. If the cream is bubbly, skim the bubbles from the cream.

2 T walnut pieces (pecans would be great, too)
2 T golden raisins

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line an insulated baking sheet with parchment paper or stack two baking sheets on top of each other and place parchment on the top sheet. This is to insulate the tart and give it gentle heat for baking.

Place the tart shell on top of the baking sheet. Line the apples in parallel rows in the tart shell until all of the apples are used. Arrange the toast triangles decoratively among the apples, with the broad base against the crust and the points facing up. Scatter the walnuts and raisins and pour in about 2/3 of the caramel cream.

Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the tart and pour on the remaining caramel cream until it comes to the top rim of the tart. Continue baking for another 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cream comes out clean. Transfer the tart on its baking sheet to a cooling rack and let it rest until it is just warm.

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