french brown butter apple tart

This is my version of an apple tart recipe from Phyllis Grant on Food52.  It’s not too sweet, almost savory.  Would be lovely served at brunch with an assortment of cheeses and a crisp green salad.

Just because time is often at a premium, I use prepared refrigerated pie crust when making this.  Of course, if you have a preferred pie dough recipe (and the time to make it) go for it.  Here’s a recipe for a buttery homemade crust that looks amazing.  You could even use frozen puff pastry for a lighter texture.

The key to the subtle savory flavor of this treat is the brown butter dressing.  If you can, use the seeds from a fresh vanilla bean.  If that’s not possible, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the mix.  And that “hint of rosemary” takes it right over the top.

The baking sheet should be preheated so that the crust can get very crisp.  Allow me to offer some advice …cover the baking sheet completely with foil before preheating it.  The prepared tart will eventually be placed on the sheet on a piece of parchment paper but some of the sugary syrup will most likely ooze out onto the pan while baking in your very hot oven.  Have you ever tried to clean burnt sugar from a pan?  It’s quite the challenge.  With the foil wrap, you’ll strip that mess away and simply toss it in the trash.

For this presentation, I used 7 medium sized apples weighing in at about 6.5 ounces each.  If you leave the skin on the apples, it will brown significantly in the oven providing more texture and definition to the final presentation.  If you prefer a softer texture, go ahead and peel those apples before slicing.  Just be sure to make the slices thin as they need to cook quickly.

While we’re on the subject of apple slices, the original author of the recipe has this to offer… “Just know that in order to make lovely apple circles, you will need to sacrifice at least half of each apple. Just plan on using the scraps for a compote or snacking. You can even julienne it up right away, toss with lemon juice, and save for a salad. Or not all of the slices have to be circles. Up to you.

Once the tart is removed from the oven, a thin layer of heated apricot jam is spread over the apples providing a lovely glaze and the slightest hint of added sweetness.

Delicious served warm, topped with freshly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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french brown butter apple tart

Adapted from Food52


Servings 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 single crust recipe of your favorite pie or tart dough (or refrigerated prepared pie crust)
  • 6 to 8 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, halved & scraped of its seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam, with any large chunks of fruit finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Take your dough out of the fridge 20 minutes before rolling it out (or 1 hour before if it's in the freezer).

  2. Preheat your oven to 450° F.  Fully cover a sheet pan (measuring at least 12 1/2-inches in width) with foil and place the pan in the oven to heat up.  

  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Swirl it around a few times. It will foam and spatter. After 3 to 4 minutes, it will start to smell nutty. Don’t walk away. It’s ready when the sizzling quiets down and you see little brown bits drop to the bottom of the pan. Cool slightly. Whisk in the vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract, and chopped rosemary.
  4. Cut a piece of parchment paper that's about a 12-inch square.  Roll out your dough into about a 12-inch round.  It doesn't need to be perfect -- you're going to fold over the edges.  Roll dough onto your rolling pin.  Unroll dough onto the piece of parchment.

  5. Using a very sharp knife or a mandoline, with the apple stem facing north, very thinly slice about 5 circles off of two opposing sides of the apple.  Stop once you hit the core.  Repeat with the remaining apples.  Save remaining apple and the outermost discs with lots of skin for applesauce or some other use.

  6. Starting about 2 inches in from the border of the rolled out dough, make a circle with the apple discs, having them overlap considerably.  Continue with a second layer that overlaps the larger circle.  Do a third and smaller circle.  And a fourth.  Finish it off with a few discs in the middle creating a flower pattern.  Paint all exposed apple surface with the brown butter vanilla rosemary mixture.  Fold the outer border of the dough in to enclose about half of the exterior edge of the outermost apple discs.  It can be creased and uneven to give it a rustic appearance.

  7. Whisk together egg and heavy cream.  Paint exposed border of dough with a thin layer of egg wash.  Refrigerate any leftover egg wash and save for your next tart or pie (it will last a few days).  Generously sprinkle the turbinado sugar all over the apples and the egg-washed dough.

  8. Carefully and quickly slide the tart (keeping it on the parchment) onto the preheated sheet pan.  Bake until apples are golden brown and the crust is crisp about 20 to 25 minutes
  9. Warm up the apricot jam.  Using a pastry brush, paint surface of the cooked apples with the warm jam.  Serve immediately.

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