French Apple Tart

Happy first day of fall – my favorite season! I am so looking forward to having a “real” fall in the northeast, where leaves actually change color.

We went to Lyman Orchards, and in addition to the massive squashes we picked there as mentioned in my Chocolate Zucchini Bread, we also picked a TON of apples … which I baked into a tart because we ended up with too many apples. Whoops. But these apples were so gorgeous – look at these beauties.

There are many variants of the Tarte Normande (Normandy Tart) which has apples and almonds. The key to this tart is the sweet pastry crust (pate sucree) which is a little like a buttery shortbread.

French apple tarts tend to have beautiful displays of thinly sliced apples. I put B to work slicing the apples, then took the knife away from him since his apple slices were so fat and nonuniform (he slunk in the corner)… sometimes, I think I should be the surgeon in the family, hehe.

I made this pie for a friend’s birthday initially, and we liked it so much I made it two more times in one week when visiting B’s family in California in the first half of our lovely 2 week vacation. That’s a lot of apple tarts.

B has French blood through his father’s side, so this French dessert was a big hit with his dad (no better way for a daughter in law to win approval). His mom doesn’t bake much, but I made extra dough so she could enjoy it in future baking.

This recipe was adapted from Joy of Baking. French apple tart is a perfect fall dessert as the weather turns cooler (we’re expecting a chill next week) that’s a little different and more elegant than a regular apple pie – everyone knows the French are all things classy and elegant. If you don’t have a tart pan, you can use a brownie pan or pie pan as well.

French Apple Tart

2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2-3 Tbsp milk, (as need)

One 8-ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
~4 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds

CRUST: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Grease a 9 inch tart (or pie) pan.

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, sugar, and pieces of butter and pulse until dough just begins to come together. If you don’t have a food processor, combine all ingredients in a bowl and using 2 knives, “cut” the butter into pieces until texture resembles coarse crumbles, then form dough. You can add milk if needed. Pat the dough onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator while you make the filling.

FILLING: Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Remove the crust from the fridge and pour in the filling.

APPLE TOPPING: Toss the sliced apples with the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Arrange apples evenly over the cream cheese layer and sprinkle with almonds.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and apples are tender. Let cool and serve. Enjoy!

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