Apple Cider Custard Tart

I was able to give my dad his Father’s Day baked goods while I was in CT last week, since today I’m back up home in MA, and my dad is out and about visiting my grandma and other friends in the Mid-Atlantic.

My Dad and me at my graduation last year. Please disregard my wind-blown hair.

But it’s ok, really.  My dad is a very simple man.  Before my baking obsession struck, the usual question of “what do you want for Father’s Day/your birthday/Christmas?” was met with virtually the same list of items year in and year out.

Socks, tennis balls, and/or a new grill cover.  Simple, no?  I swear I’ve gotten him like three grill covers and they all seem to fall apart or disappear.

Now that I can’t get myself to stop baking, I try to make him special items when these times roll around.  They usually involve chocolate.  Lots of chocolate.  Nothing less for the man who I find myself resembling as I get older.  The man I’d call when my car wouldn’t start, when I got my heart broken or when I needed a another pair of eyes to edit an essay.  Thanks Dad, for all you’ve done, and all you do.

And to all the dads out there, I dedicate this tart.  I know apples aren’t “in season” (hey, apples are always in season somewhere in the country), but I’ve wanted to make this tart for a while, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying cider during springtime.

The dough of this tart is sweeter than traditional pie dough, and I almost ended up snacking on bits of it while making the lattice.  The cider is reduced and turned into a lovely layer of spiced custard, which pairs wonderfully with the sweet dough, creating a treat worthy of all Dads on their special day.  Happy Father’s Day!

Apple Cider Custard Tart

Adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes

Makes one 9” tart

For the dough:

¾ cup powdered sugar

1¾ cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

2 tsp grated lemon zest

½ cup (one stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

For the apple cider custard filling:

2 cups apple cider

3 large eggs

¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

4 Tbsp (half a stick) unsalted butter

First make the dough.  In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest Massage the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until it has the consistency of coarse meal.

Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir in the egg.  Once it is semi-incorporated, switch back to your hands, and gather the dough together.  Add water 1 Tbsp at a time if the dough seems dry.  Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours or overnight.

While the dough is chilling make the apple cider custard.  In a medium saucepan, boil the apple cider until it has reduced to a half cup of liquid.

In a medium bowl, beat together eggs and brown sugar. While mixing constantly, very slowly pour in the reduced apple cider.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour back into the medium bowl through a fine mesh strainer to remove lumps.

Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Cover immediately and refrigerate.

To assemble and bake, preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease a 9” tart pan with removable bottom and set aside.  Let the dough sit for 5 minutes, then roll it out on a floured surface, reserving one fourth to make the lattice topping.  Fit the rolled out dough into the prepared tart pan.

Spread the apple cider custard into the tart shell.  Roll out the reserved dough and cut into long strips creating a design, or cut using cookie cutters into shapes.  Bake for 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.


German Chocolate Tarts

Holy fish sticks, how is it already almost May?  This month has really flown by, leaving in its wake both joyous moments and disappointments.  But it’s almost May, and May means sunshine, and sunshine means sundresses, so I’m happy.

I didn’t start wearing sundresses until last year, and it’s still a big deal for me, so please bear with my excitement.  I can’t wait to move to the new house where I can be out in the yard, spread out on a blanket, reading.  Our apartment doesn’t have much by way of a yard, and every time we go outside, the new neighbor’s dog starts howling like a tone-deaf yodeler.

So I’m staying inside for now, and since temps are only reaching the mid 50s in MA right now, I’m ok with it.

I’ll just have to channel my warm weather frustrations into making some kitchen magic.  Take these tarts for example.  Pure. Kitchen. Magic.

KA and I made these back when she was visiting, since I was driving her home (which also happens to be my hometown) and wanted to bring something special to my dad.  You know, because I’m a good daughter like that.

I had some leftover filling from these cookies, so these tarts seemed like an appropriate vehicle for using it up.  Luke liked them so much he asked me if I really had to take them to my dad.  I mean, I don’t blame him.  My dad asked if it were possible for the tarts to mate, thereby replenishing the ones he ate overnight.  I think that means they’re good 😉

German Chocolate Tarts

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

Makes 12 muffin sized tarts

For the pastry:

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tbsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes

1 large egg

For the filling:

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

½ cup sugar

1/8 tsp salt

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp sour cream

½ tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup all purpose flour

For the topping*:

2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

¾ cup evaporated milk

½ cup sugar

2 large egg yolks

pinch of salt

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

3oz semi sweet chocolate, for drizzling (optional)

To make the pastry, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add butter and use your fingertips to rub it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  The butter should be well dispersed with some larger, oat flake-sized pieces remaining.  Beat egg well with a fork in a small bowl until very fluid and drizzle into flour mixture while gently tossing with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened and it holds together in clumps.  Turn dough out onto a work surface and bring it together in a ball with your hands, turning it frequently and pressing in loose bits until it is cohesive.  You may need to add a little water if your dough is too dry.  Add water 1 Tbsp at a time with dough comes together.  Fold the dough over itself a few times so that the dough is evenly hydrated.  Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

After the dough has chilled, roll it out to a 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Use a 3.5 to 4 inch round to cut out 12 circles (re-rolling scraps as necessary) and fit each round into the greased base of each well in a standard 12-cup muffin pan.  Press pastry into the bottom and up the sides of the muffin cups.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the filling, stir together chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pot with ½ inch of barely simmering water until completely melted and smooth.  Remove bowl from heat and stir in sugar and salt.  Stir in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.  Stir in sour cream and vanilla extract.  Fold in flour until batter is smooth and set aside.

Prick bottoms of chilled, unbaked tart shells a few times with a fork.  Spoon the batter into tart shells, filling them about halfway and bake on the bottom third rack of the oven until batter puffs up and pastry is crisp, about 15 minutes.  Let cool in pan at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Use a small offset spatula to help release them from the pan.  Reduce oven to 325 degrees F.

*I used leftovers from this recipe for the topping, so I didn’t actually make this part.

Spread coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until lightly golden, about 5 minutes, stirring once.  Transfer coconut to a bowl and let cool completely.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, whisk together evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks and salt over medium low heat.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens considerably and reaches the consistency of sweetened condensed milk or pouring custard, 10-15 minutes.  Stir in butter until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in toasted coconut and chopped pecans.  Let mixture cool for 5-10 minutes before spooning about 1 tablespoon of it over each tart.

If you’re making the chocolate drizzle, place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot with ½ inch of barely simmering water and stir completely melted and smooth.  Using a fork, drizzle warm chocolate over tarts as you wish.

Black Forest Tart

Happy President’s Day!  One of those holidays I only noticed because we got the day off from school, thank you Mr. Presidents.  Luke has the day off from work, and we’re celebrating by taking a trip to our favorite Asian market/food court in Boston.  I’m stoked.

In honor of this momentous holiday, I’m posting a tart featuring cherries…you know…because George Washington chopped down a cherry tree or something.  I do believe it’s a myth, but that’s ok.  Cherries are great, and adding chocolate only makes them better.

My most recent birthday request at the office was a repeat of black forest cake.  I didn’t want to make the exact same thing, so I switched out cupcakes for a tart.  I wasn’t able to taste the tart, but it did receive glowing reviews.  It’s like a brownie, with a crust and topped with cherries.  I’m definitely going to make it again (once cherries are in season, I had to buy canned ones for this recipe) and then I’ll have it all to myself!

Black Forest Tart

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

For the pastry:

1 cup all purpose flour

2 Tbsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 large egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

For the cherry filling:

½ cup freshly pitted and halved cherries

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

For the chocolate filling:

3.5 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2/3 cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 large eggs

2 tbsp sour cream

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup all purpose flour

½ cup freshly pitted and halved cherries

 To make the pastry, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Cut the butter into the mixture using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, until it resembles coarse crumbles with some pea sized pieces.  In a small bowl, beat the egg with the vanilla until fluid and smooth.  Drizzle into the flour mixture while stirring, until it holds together in clumps.  Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and bring it together in a ball, pressing in all the loose bits, until it is cohesive.  Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. (I made the dough the day before and refrigerated it overnight.)

 Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to ¼ inch thickness, using more flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Gently fit the dough into a greased 9” inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

To make the cherry topping, combine cherries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook while stirring constantly, until cherries become soft and begin to release most of their juices, about 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water and add to the pot with the cherries.  Bring to the boil and continue to cook until the mixture is thick, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.

To make the chocolate filling, stir together chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water until completely melted and smooth.  Take off heat and stir in sugar and salt.  Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.  Stir in sour cream and vanilla extract until blended.  Fold in flour and cherries.  Pour chocolate mixture into chilled pastry shell and refrigerate until filling is firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spoon the cooled cherry topping randomly over the chilled chocolate filling, and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is slightly puffed, 30-35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Caramel Apple Tartlets

Ok, so maybe I made these tartlets because I had some caramel sauce just begging to be used.  Sometimes I plan things out like that.  And by that I mean most of the time.  I’m a compulsive planner.  If only I could let my life slide by nonchalantly like a caramel drizzle, but alas, it is not so.

So I committed an act of premeditated deliciousness.  I thought these tartlets would be like little caramel apple bits in a pie shell, but they weren’t.  They were better.  Where the caramel used to coat apples is thick and chewy, after being baked in these tartlets, the caramel becomes soft and subtle, lending its flavors to the tart without overpowering.

And the crust.  Oh the crust.  Almondy heaven.  For some reason I love all almond-flavored baked goods, but I don’t actually enjoy eating the nut plain.  This almond scented crust made my kitchen smell heavenly.   I wish I could have infused it into wax and turned it into a candle.

Basically, I love each of the components of this tart a lot on their own, and all together, well, there are no words really.  Just photos.  Look at the photos.  Then make these tartlets.

Caramel Apple Tartlets

Adapted from The Pastry Affair

Makes 8 tartlets or 1 9” tart

Tart Dough 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

In a food processor, blend the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and process until well mixed. Add in the almonds, salt, vanilla extract, and egg and process again. Scrape around the bowl if necessary. Add the flour and pulse just until the dough forms a ball. The dough will be the consistency of very soft and sticky cookie dough.

Remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight to firm up the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

When chilled until firm, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8-inch thick (you may have to wait a few minutes for the dough to soften). Cut out rounds of dough to fit the tartlet pans (alternatively, if you are making a large, single tart, roll out the dough and cut a large circle to fit the tart pan). Press the dough carefully into the pans; be careful not the stretch the dough! Stab the bottom several times with a fork so the dough will not rise in the oven.

Bake the tart shells for 15-18 minutes, or until they are lightly colored and the shell feels dry to the touch. Let cool completely before filling.

Orange Citrus Caramel (I used my homemade caramel sauce instead)

Yields 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water. Scrape down sides of pan and let sugar boil, without stirring, until sugar reaches a golden amber color (if using a candy thermometer, this happens somewhere between 325F to 350F). Remove sugar from heat and allow to rest for a full minute before pouring in warmed heavy cream. Whisk vigorously to incorporate cream (caramel will bubble up violently so be very careful!). Whisk in orange juice and salt.

To store, keep refrigerated in an air-tight container.

Apple Filling (Note: You will have to 1 1/2 this recipe for a 9-inch tart)
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest (I used lemon)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, combine apples, orange juice, orange zest, and cinnamon.

To Assemble:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Spoon apples into baked and cooled tart shells (apples will cook down while baking so pile them high). Pour caramel over each tart until it reaches the rim of the shell. Place tarts on a parchment lined baking sheet (do not skip this!) and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until apples are tender. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on pan before attempting to move them (the caramel needs to harden up slightly or the tarts will crumble under your fingers).

Serve slightly warmed, with a dollop of whipped cream if desired.

Note: I halved the entire recipe and got 4 tartlets.