Change it up for Valentine’s Day, Apple-Almond Tart

What, no chocolate?  That’s right no chocolate.  Why?  I’ll tell you why.  Because everyone always expects chocolate and if you really want to make an impression you should think outside the box.  Apples fit in perfectly on Valentine’s Day.  Folkore, mythology, legends are full of stories where the fruit represents both good and evil.  We all know the story of Adam and Eve (forbidden fruit! bad apple, and yes I am aware it was probably originally a pomegranate which actually if you think about it removes the evil taint from apples) but the apple is also a symbol of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love.

As the Greek myth goes, there was a wedding all the gods and goddesses were invited to except one, Eris, who was a troublemaker (she’s the goddess of strife and discord).  Isn’t this always the case among those Greek gods?  I mean doesn’t it seem like all those stories start with someone getting snubbed?  So, long before Wedding Crashers came out the goddess of discord shows up and tosses a golden apple into the party with “for the fairest” inscribed on it.  Is there any better way to confirm your snub by showing at the wedding of those who snubbed you and causing trouble amongst those self-loving, narcissistic goddesses?  “My invite must have got lost in the mail, sorry I can’t make it but here’s a gift to remember me by.”  This apple of course caused a huge catfight between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.  I’ll give the guys a moment to picture that…

Ok, so Zeus, not wanting to be part of deciding who was fairest (smart god that Zeus) assigned the task to Paris.  Hera and Athena tried to bribe him with fame and power whereas Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen.  Paris opts for love and beauty over power and fame and gives Aphrodite the golden apple.  Of course Helen and Athena are pissed off so they end up starting the Trojan War in an early form of not letting the whole “he’s just not into you” thing go and the golden apple becomes a symbol for Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.  Not bad huh?  It’s a hard sell, I know.  First words out of Cheryl’s mouth tonight when I told her I made dessert for tomorrow was ” Is it chocolate?”  Sigh.

This apple-almond tart from my mom’s recipe book looks really daunting but it isn’t.  Not sure where she got it from, she’s always collecting recipes and is really good at writing down the ones she likes.  However, the directions as she has them always confuse me a bit because the amounts of certain ingredients are broken up throughout the recipe so I’ll give a total amount of multiple ingredients in the beginning to try to simplify it.  It takes a little while because of all the chilling the dough and almond paste need, but other than that it’s not so bad.  And it’s a really delicious dessert.  Probably because of all the butter.  Make the dough first, then make the filling while the dough is chilling for the first time.  Peel, core, and slice the apples last, after you’ve put the dough in your pan and spread the paste.  I also use one of those springform pans instead of a tart pan.  I’ve found some tart pans (like the one I have) can be too short and you won’t be able to fit all the filling in.

So if you’ve learned one thing here it should be this: make this tart for your loved one, but only for them.  Don’t go throwing it into a wedding party.  Oh and tell them there’s chocolate inside.

Total Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 5 Tbs Calvados or brandy
  • 1 ¼ C flour
  • ¾ C + 3 Tbs sugar
  • 15 Tbs butter
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond extract
  • 2 tart apples, like Granny Smith
  • Apricot preserves

For the crust

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs Calvados or brandy
  • 1 ¼ C flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 9 Tbs chilled unsalted butter cut into small pieces.

Mix the egg yolks and Calvados together.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar and mix well.  Next add the butter and blend in with your fingers until you get small pea sized pieces of flour/butter.

Add the egg yolks and mix in until large clumps of dough form.  Shape into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and chill for an hour.

When it goes into the refrigerator move on to the filling.

For the almond paste filling

  • 1 ¼ C slivered almonds
  • ¾  C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs Calvados
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½  tsp almond extract
  • ¼  tsp salt
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter room temperature in pieces

Put almond in a food processor and chop/grind/pulverize into small pieces.  Add all ingredients EXCEPT butter with the pulverized almonds and blend until a paste forms.  Add the butter pieces and pulse for 10-15 seconds.  Set aside and wait for dough to finish chilling.

When hour is up, take dough out of the refrigerator.  Roll out and put into a 10-11 inch tart pan (or do like I do and use a springform pan).  Form the sides with your fingers, pressing into the pan.  Add the filling and put back in refrigerator for 45 mins or until the paste is firm.  If using a springform pan, make the side walls of the crust, spread the almond filling in, then roll the dough back down the side to form a lip above the filling.  It’ll look like a Chicago style pizza (yeah Chicago!)  Give yourself some extra room because the almond filling will rise.

Apple Topping

  • 2-3 tart apples, like Granny Smith
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs Calvados
  • 2 Tbs butter

Peel and core your apples.  Slice apples into crescent moon shapes about 1/8” thick.  Toss with the sugar and Calvados.  Let sit for a 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 400°F

Take chilled tart out of refrigerator and arrange apple slices in concentric circles on top of filling.  Melt 2 (more) Tbs of butter and brush onto apples.

Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake until apples are tender, about 45 minutes.

Glaze

  • ¼ cup apricot preserves
  • 1 Tbs calvados

Combine the preserves and Calvados in a small sauce pan and heat.  When preserves are melted brush on to tart and allow to cool.

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