One of the best parts of living in New England is never being too far from a local farm. It means getting the freshest of fall produce, none more enticing than a perfectly ripe apple. We were inspired to turn this humble fruit into a lovely tart that is a visual stunner, making the perfect centerpiece for the table at your holiday get-together.
Composed with a rich crust filled with homemade apple compote, and a swirl of artfully placed apple slices to create a classically French rose effect and finished off with a drizzle of rosemary caramel sauce. Its simple elegance highlights the apple in all its glory, letting it have the flavor spotlight with just a hint of classic warming spices.
We believe it’s always worth it to make a pie or tart crust from scratch if you can. For this recipe, we’re using a paté sablée, a type of French shortbread crust. “Sablée” means “sandy”, which is exactly the kind of texture this crust has, as opposed to the typical flaky crust you would find in a traditional American apple pie. Because the goal is to create a tender crumb, you want to develop as little gluten as possible when making this dough.
One of the easiest ways to prevent gluten development is to add fat of some kind- in this case, a single egg yolk. If you have the time, hard boiling the egg first and then pressing the egg through a fine-mesh sieve (or just mash it up with a fork) removes excess moisture, keeping the dough even drier and really ensuring the lovely shortbread-y texture of the tart crust.
Once the dough is made, let it rest in the fridge for at least thirty minutes before rolling it out. You can even make it the day before, or freeze it for up to three months. Just let it defrost in the fridge the day before you plan to use it.
The apple compote that fills the tart crust couldn’t be easier- just peel and dice your Granny Smith apples with our Utility knife, add them into a pot with some cider, sugar, and spices, and in ten minutes it’ll be ready to go! Depending on the size of your tart pan, you may have a bit of extra compote to enjoy on your oatmeal or English muffin for breakfast!
The magic of this tart comes from the precise arrangement of the Honey Crisp apple slices on top. Using a red-skinned apple and keeping the peel on is key to achieving the color contrast that lets the “petals” of this rose design pop. Our Gyuto Chef knife will get you paper-thin slices that are flexible enough to be folded into the pictured swirl pattern.
A caramel sauce infused with sprigs of fresh rosemary rounds out the sweetness of the apples with the slight bitterness of the burnt sugar and floral herbaceousness of the herb. Making homemade caramel can be a daunting task for even the most skilled chefs, but there are plenty of tricks you can use to make sure yours turns out correct.
First, heat your heavy cream and rosemary in a separate saucepan until it’s steaming. Remove it from the heat and set aside. Select a heavy-bottomed skillet with no scratches or peeling non-stick coating, and make sure it is spotlessly clean. Keep your burner on medium-low heat- patience is key! Next, use a pastry brush and warm water to periodically brush down the sides of your pan and prevent sugar crystals from forming on the edges of your caramel as it cooks. If these crystals aren’t reincorporated, they may not cook fully and can turn your caramel gritty. Don’t move the pan until you start to see that telltale golden color start to appear. Once you do, it’s safe to give the pan a gentle swirl to help the sugar cook evenly.
At this point, keep a sharp eye on the caramel to bring it to a deep, rich amber color. You should be able to smell the sugar as it cooks. Once the sauce has reached this point, take it off the heat and slowly add in your heated heavy cream, stirring with a rubber spatula to combine. The cream will likely splatter and foam up as it hits the sugar, so be careful as you stir it in. Once the cream has been incorporated fully, pour the sauce into a heatproof jar and let it cool. You can keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks, but we find it never can last for that long! Add a spoonful to your coffee, drizzle it over ice cream, or even use it in a seasonal cocktail.
The beauty of this dessert is how the final product becomes so much more than the sum of its parts. It elevates fall’s favorite fruit in a way that allows you to appreciate its flavor without diminishing its natural beauty. Happy baking!
French Apple Tart with Rosemary Caramel
If you’re looking for a beautiful showstopping dessert project for any occasion, look no further! This French-inspired apple tart comes together easily with some care, fresh apples, a bounty of spices, and a sharp knife. It’s the kind of eye-candy we can’t resist taking a slice out of!
Recipe by Samara Wald
Forge To Table Knives
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 8 slices, ~1-½ cup caramel
2 cups grams all-purpose flour (250 grams)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (25 grams)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup butter unsalted butter, cubed (1-½ sticks)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water, or as needed
3 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and small diced (~1 pound)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup of apple cider or juice
½ teaspoon of cinnamon, or to taste
¼ tsp nutmeg, or to taste
⅛ tsp allspice, or to taste
½ teaspoon lemon zest (½ each lemon)
2 each Honeycrisp apples, cored and thinly sliced
½ lemon, juiced
¾ cup heavy cream
2 long sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
(PREPARE TART DOUGH) In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt and pulse to combine. Add cubed butter and pulse until the butter is slightly smaller than peas. Alternatively, use a butter cutter in a bowl to cut into the flour mixture. Pour into a medium bowl, and using a wooden spoon, mix in egg yolk and water until the dough comes together. If dough is too crumbly, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Form into a disc and wrap dough in plastic wrap before refrigerating for at least 30 minutes.
(PREPARE COMPOTE) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine granny smith apples, brown sugar, apple cider/juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and lemon zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are softened but not mushy, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
(BLIND BAKE CRUST) Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Remove dough from fridge, and use a rolling pin to roll out to ¼ inch. Carefully pick up the dough and lay over a 9-12 inch tart pan. Gently press dough into the bottom and corners, before trimming any overhang off the sides. Use a fork to dock small holes across the bottom of the dough. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up dough. Place pie weights, dry beans, or dry rice into the center of the tart dough and blind bake until it’s set with no color, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, remove pie weights, and let cool.
(SLICE APPLES) Fill a medium bowl with 4 inches of water and juice of ½ lemon. Using your favorite Forge To Table knife, thinly slice the cored Honeycrisp apples, placing the slices into the acidulated water. Reserve.
(ASSEMBLE TART) Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Layer an even amount of compote just under the top of the blind-baked tart crust. Starting from the outside, start layering upright apple slices, slightly overlapping, making the way to the center. This is how the rose effect is achieved. Save the thinnest slices of apple for the center swirl!
(BAKE TART) Place the tart onto a baking sheet and into the preheated oven until the apples start to get slightly brown and softened, 25-25 minutes. Remove and let cool.
(START CARAMEL) Meanwhile, in a small saucepot, heat cream and rosemary sprigs until steaming, and remove from the heat to let steep. In a separate spotlessly clean saute pan or saucepot, add sugar and water, cooking over medium heat, not stirring at all, until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize to a light tan color, 10-17 minutes. Brushing the sides of the pan with water ensures no sugar will recrystallize and burn.
(FINISH CARAMEL) Remove rosemary sprigs from cream. Remove caramel from heat and pour cream into the caramel, stirring constantly to emulsify. Let cool slightly before placing it into a serving dish.
(SLICE TART) Once the tart has cooled slightly, remove the sides of the tart pan, Drizzle lightly with warm caramel, and slice into 8 pieces. Enjoy immediately!
If you have leftover tart crust, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar and bake for cinnamon shortbread! Any leftover compote can be used on toast or pancakes.
If homemade caramel isn’t your jam, storebought caramel or dulce de leche is adequate.
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