Alsatian Apple Tart - Recipe

     Some of my ancestors come from the Alsace Region of France.  It is on the eastern border of France and is adjacent to Germany and Switzerland.  It has both German and French influences culturally, and has changed hands a number of times.  It even has its own historic language, Alsatian, a Germanic language.  Most people speak French there now.

     I visited that area when I was 20 during my first trip to Europe.  Because of my ancestry, I was especially interested to see what it was like.  It had lots of great farmland, which reminded me of the farms back home in Illinois actually.  No wonder it was sought after and changed hands over history.  I remember very old tudor-style buildings and the stunning cathedral in Strasbourg, which was the world's tallest building from 1647-1874.  

     Now I am interested in Alsatian cuisine.  Lately I have been exploring the Alsatian apple pie.  There are variations in the recipes of Alsatian apple pies, but all have some kind of custard and apples.  The differences lie in how the apples are prebaked in the shell or fried to soften and in the ingredients of the custard.  I knew what I wanted in my end product, so I decided to experiment.
     I thought it would be fun to make individual tarts instead of one pie.  I like a slightly rustic crust, so I used my tart crust recipe which is partially whole wheat.  I softened the apples by frying them with butter and a little sugar, and I mean a little, as in 1 tablespoon.  I do not like to over sweeten my apples.  I want to taste the apple, not a sugar after taste.

    I also wanted my custard slightly sweet but did not want it to overpower the rich cream flavor.  It took a few tries to get it just right, but we got there. There are many variations in the milk/cream/table cream combinations, but I like a rich custard - yet not over the top, so I ended up with half milk and half whipping cream.

     The custard is spiced with cinnamon and enough nutmeg (German influence) to notice it, and a touch of brandy.

     So what we have below is a real treat that is not difficult to make, rustic yet elegant, and definitely not a dessert one sees every day.  It is sure to delight and impress your company for any special occasion.  This is also great for afternoon tea, since each tart is an individual serving.  It will become a staple in my family now, for sure.

Alsatian Apple Tart

(Makes 6 Tarts)

3 Apples peeled and sliced
3 T. Butter divided
1/4 c. plus 1 T. Sugar divided
3 Eggs
1/2 c. Milk
1/2 c. Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Brandy
1/8 tsp. Salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease 6 (7-oz.) tart pans (4.5-inch diameter x 1-inch height).  Divide the dough into 6 balls and roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Place into tart pans and prick the bottoms with a fork several times.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Fry the apples with 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon sugar on medium heat until softened and the apples begin to caramelize, turning the apples occasionally but not constantly.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool while making the custard.

Melt 1 T. butter in a small pan until slightly browned.  Set aside to cool.  Whisk eggs in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl.  Add the 1/4 c. sugar slowly while whisking constantly.  Whisk in the milk, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, brandy and salt.  Whisk in butter.

Place tarts on a rimmed cookie sheet for easy transport to oven.  Divide apples between the tarts.  Pour the custard into each tart till just under the top of the crust.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they are just set.  They may jiggle slightly when shaken.  The centers should be at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Let rest 10 minutes.  Serve warm.


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Tart Crusts.

Before baking.

After baking.

Use a rimmed cookie sheet for transport and to catch any drips.


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