Posted on October 14 2011

Recipe #6: Apple nougatine tart

So I’m a total jerk and have to fess up.  In my last post, I mentioned a few things that I need to clear up. (I’m not really a jerk)

#1:  I DID wake up before the sun (for the first time in I don’t know how long!) in order to bake my first flaky tart shell and give it sufficient time to cool before I filled it up with delicious goodness.  Having a quiet house to myself for awhile was nice – I think I’m going to do more of that, but only if there’s coffee in the house.

#2:  I DID Google “What is nougatine?” because who in the world knows what that is?!  Clearly, some people do know what it is because Wikipedia tells me that it’s “a term used to describe a variety of similar traditional confectioneries made with sugar or honey, roasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts are common), and sometimes chopped candied fruit.”  Makes sense.  This recipe is of the nutty variety, specifically almonds. 

#3:  And finally, and thankfully, there was NO close-call involving my fingers, apples and knives.   I briefly entertained the idea that some intense drama would spice things up around here.  That ended when well-meaning friends started sending me messages and tips for safely coring, peeling and slicing apples.  But!  You’re here, so my climatic cliffhanger brought you back!!!  So I win.  You’re here and reading, and I have all of my fingers. 

Okay, now the details.  The tart.  That tart has this one worried.  You know, panicky and sweaty palms and a racing heart; all of that would set in these last few days as I was thinking about that tart.  It just sounds so fancy.  There’s no picture in the book to show me what it’s supposed to look like.  It’s a multi-step process.  Yeah, yeah, yeah…the blame game, pointing the finger.  It took a brief self pep talk involving profound phrases like, “Just do it,” “I think I can,” and “Go for the gold.”  Actually, I didn’t think any of those things.  I just realized that I was going to have to suck it up because this there were a crazy load of tarts to make in this cookbook, so I’d better figure it out now.  That, and I had a crazy amount of apples sitting on my counter.

The secret to a perfect tart shell?  Cold water and cold butter.  You can see how cold that water is!  I was off to a good start – inevitable success, right?

The recipe makes two flaky tart shells, so I stuck one in the freezer.  Hopefully that’s okay.  See?  I’m a worrier.

Transferring the shell into the tart pan was simple and worked out well.  I even could see chunks of butter in the dough, which I was promised was important for a flaky dough.  Yes!  At this point, gliding around the kitchen on fueled on the high of feeling like I was on a roll, and doing things right, and getting up early to bake, and feeling like a real deal adult, and not even caring that I didn’t have a coffee in my hand.  I read the direction, “something something something pie weights…” PIE WEIGHTS!  I missed that!  I scrambled and all I could find was a bag of sushi rice.  In the world if rice, I’d venture to say sushi rice is the waif-ish 90’s supermodel lacking the girth needed to keep my tart crust from rising.  But I rolled with the baking punches.

Chopping, coring, and slicing the apples went quickly and smoothly.  My dramatic cliffhanger was in the back of my mind, so I was subconsciously hoping I didn’t have a moment of clairvoyance.  All my fingers are in tact!

Melting the butter and incorporating the sugar lead to caramelizing the sugar, then adding batches of apples lead to one of my favorite smells in a sauté pan.

More lemon zest and lemon juice!

I totally eyeballed what three and a half pounds of apples looks/feels like.  I was so excited it fit into the shell, especially since the shell kind of shrunk a bit when it baked. 

The mixture of egg whites, sugar and almonds looks remarkably like snot when you spread it out.  That’s right, I said it!  It looks like snot.

I’m already learning lessons from my baking adventures.  I put the tart on a rimmed baking sheet as to avoid fires in the oven!  Hooray!

I must say, this is one of my favorite things I’ve made yet.  The crust turned out well, the filling was sweet and tart, and the crisp almond crust lends itself for all sorts of fingers picking away at it when passing through the kitchen.  That’s a good sign, right?

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