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French Apple Nougat Tart

Some of you saw a few photos of this Apple Nougat Tart recently. A promise is a promise, as I said I’d post the recipe on le blog, didn’t I? So, voilà – here it is, even if a bit later than I was hoping! I didn’t have my kitchen for a couple of weeks as it was getting a few licks of paint – and I finally have a new oven!

Now this makes three apple dessert recipes in a row here but we can never have too many apple desserts, can we? Besides, I need to keep making tarts to help extinguish that lingering odour of fresh paint.

French apple almond walnut tart

Apples with Almonds

Like the previous Quick Apple Tart recipe, it pairs almonds with apples and, while I used ground almonds in the base with a splash of Calvados, this tart uses slivered almonds as a crunchy nougat topping with just sugar and egg whites.

On another occasion, I tried to camouflage apple nougat tart leftovers next day for goûter in the hope I’d get the rest all to myself. Och! It’s always better to share.

French Apple Nougat Tart Slices

I discovered the recipe for Apple Nougat Tart in Jacquy Pfeiffer’s cookbook, The Art of French Pastry. If any of you have seen the 2010 video on The Kings of Pastry (this link is a trailer), he’s the prime subject and I thoroughly recommend you watch it. Hailing from Alsace, this outstanding pastry chef co-founded the French Pastry School in Chicago.

French Apple Nougat Tart

Sweet Pastry Recipe

The chef’s sweet tart base is prepared the day before. Shame on me but, instead of waiting 24 hours, I adapted the Sweet Tart base recipe in Teatime in Paris (there’s a whole chapter on Tarts in the book) by replacing some of the flour with ground almonds (almond flour). The result worked really well and so I’ve posted this alternative pastry base recipe below.

As in Teatime in Paris, the method of making the tart base is all explained, step-by-step using a tart pan or a tart ring.

Best Tart Apples

The chef’s secret to preparing the apples for this French Nougat Tart is to cook the apple chunks on a high heat in butter quickly until the apples are seared, then cool them off on baking paper. It’s a cracker of a pastry tip for making this. Braeburn apples are good for this; so are a mixture of Pink Lady and Granny Smith.

However, lately I’ve been experimenting without using lemon juice with apples.  If you peel, core and chop your apples quickly enough and immediately throw them into a hot pan, there is no need to go through soaking them in lemon juice.  Good news if you’re in a hurry.

Apple Nougat Tart Topping

The recipe calls for just slivered almonds for the topping but I also experimented using a mixture of sliced almonds, fresh walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans too.  The result is deliciously fabulous.

However, in my humble and honest opinion, there’s nothing to beat the original recipe using just almonds to let the apples shine through. Chef Pfeiffer adds a touch of cinnamon to the topping, although I like it also without, sticking with the vanilla. Simplicity is key!

This year we’re seeing Christmas figurines from the Nutcracker all around Paris.  I particularly love seeing them at each entrance to the Tuileries Gardens.

Inspired by chestnuts around Paris, add a few marron glacés (candied chestnuts) on top to complete a Parisian Christmas touch. I love this tart on its own but serve with vanilla ice cream, chestnut & vanilla ice cream, spiced chai crème anglaise or a dollop of crème fraîche.

French Apple Nutcracker Tart

Apple Nougat Tart Recipe

5 from 5 votes
French Apple Nougat Tart
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Resting Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs 15 mins
 

A delicious sweet tart with apple chunks in vanilla and topped with a crunchy almond nougat, inspired by French pastry chef, Jacquy Pfeiffer. Sweet pastry dough from 'Teatime in Paris'.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: apple almond tart, apple nougat tart, apple tart
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 338 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Sweet Pastry
  • 125 g (4.5oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 75 g (2.75oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1 medium egg (organic)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 200 g (7oz) plain, all-purpose flour (type 45)
  • 50 g (1.75oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
Apple Filling
  • 3 Organic apples (Braeburn, Pink Lady, Granny Smith) peeled & cored
  • 30 g (1oz) butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 3/4 tsp extract)
  • 2 tbsp cane sugar (or Turbinado)
Nougat Topping
  • 55 g (2oz) organic egg whites
  • 55 g (2oz) sugar
  • 55 g (2oz) slivered almonds (or mix of sliced almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)
Instructions
Sweet Pastry Base
  1. For more complete instructions, follow the recipe on pages 106-109 in my book, 'Teatime in Paris'. Mix the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until creamy. Add salt then other ingredients until just mixed, then stop. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film or in a bag and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

  2. Take the pastry out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas4. Roll out the pastry on a very lightly floured surface to 4mm thickness. Press into the pastry ring or pan. Roll over the rolling pin on top to trim then push the pastry again into the ring to ensure it's straight against the sides. Set aside the remaining pastry, returning it to the fridge or freeze for making another tart.

  3. Blind bake the pastry by topping with parchment paper and fill with baking beans, washed coins, rice or dried beans. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, then set aside to cool on a wire rack, removing the baking beans.

Apple Filling
  1. Prepare a sheet of parchment paper on the side.

    Heat a large frying pan over high heat and add the butter. Meanwhile, chop the apples into large dice (cut them quickly and there's no need to use lemon juice). When the butter is golden, fry the apples in sugar and vanilla for at least 5 minutes until seared a golden brown on one side. Turn the apples, cooking on high still for another 2 minutes then transfer to the parchment to cool.

Nougat Topping
  1. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites with a fork until loosened up then stir in the sugar and sliced (or other chopped) nuts.

  2. Evenly spread the cooled apples into the pastry base and top with the nougat. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe Notes

Best served on the day but can be kept refrigerated until next day. Also freezes well (double wrap).
Serve with vanilla ice cream, a dollop of crème fraîche or chestnut ice cream.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

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Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Pastry Cream

Ouf! Over the years, I’ve come to use this word just as the French use so often. It’s more than Oh-là-la; it’s just, well, ‘ouf’! It speaks for itself with an enormously liberating sigh of relief. ‘Cest ouf’ as well: meaning it’s fou (verlan speak which is back to front for ‘fou’, meaning crazy). We are, indeed, nearly there at the end of a crazy, mad term; finishing end-of-year school activities, exams, concerts and – last but not least -parties!

Last weekend we covered ourselves in flour with a make your own pasta early birthday party for Lucie and this weekend my eldest daughter, Julie, enjoyed a sugar candy bonbon rush with her class as they danced the night away. Oh, to be 13 again. They’re no longer referred to as parties, though: instead it’s a boum. Another Ouf! It gave me an excuse to clean out the garage, too. How much stuff can we accumulate over the years?

Meanwhile, as the weather has been less than summery in Paris lately (read: winter has been joining summer this year), at least the strawberries (Mara des Bois, Plougastel, Gariguettes, etc.) have given us some happy colours and cheered us up no end with their sweet, candy-like flavours. We’ve been simply eating them with morning cereal and with tons of ice cream, such as wasabi, pistachio and vanilla ice cream, but recently I can’t stop making berry tarts. It gives me a great excuse to use up egg yolks by making crème pâtissière.

What I love about pastry cream is that you can alter the flavours to alter classic French desserts. After visiting the Eugène Boudin exhibition at the Jacquemart André Museum, we couldn’t resist a sweet French fancy treat at 4 o’clock in their chic café: mine was a Fraisier à la pistache. Bingo with such blissful inspiration! Pistachios and strawberries are heaven together, so why not in a tart?

Berry good indeed.

Classic Sweet Pastry

Makes enough for 2 large tarts. I use half and either freeze the rest or save it up to 4 days in the fridge and make tarlets with the rest.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes

120g butter, softened
90g sugar
1 large egg
250g plain flour, sifted
good pinch of salt

Using a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Gradually add the other ingredients until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes for ease of use. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Roll out the pastry on a well-floured surface to a 28cm/11 inch circle with 5mm thickness and transfer to a 24cm (9 inch) non-stick tart pan.

Press into the mould. Prick the pastry with a fork and top with baking paper (cut to size – I use the same one several baking sessions for convenience) and fill with washed coins, rice or dried beans to blind bake the pastry.

Bake for 20 minutes then remove the baking beans.

Leave to cool, remove from the mould and set aside.

Pistachio Pastry Cream (egg yolk recipe)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes 

500ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod (or bean)
4 egg yolks
80g sugar
1 tbsp pistachio paste*
50g cornflour
20g single cream
3 drops of almond extract

(* if you don’t have pistachio paste, whizz 100g unsalted pistachios in a grinder. Mix together with 25g ground almonds, 50g sugar, 2 drops of almond essence and a tbsp water)

fresh strawberries, cut in half

1. Boil the milk with the vanilla pod and pistachio paste in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Remove the pod, scrape out the seeds and add to the milk.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar and gradually add the cornflour. Whisk until light and creamy. Pour on the hot milk and transfer back to the saucepan, whisking continuously over a medium heat until thickened.

3. Set aside and leave to cool. Place some cling film directly on to the pastry cream, to avoid a film forming on top (you don’t want to whisk this in later, otherwise you’ll end up with a lumpy bumpy cream!) After about 10 minutes, whisk in the almond essence and the cold cream. Cover with the film again and chill in the fridge.

4. Cut the strawberries in half. Fill the pastry base with the pastry cream then place the strawberries on top.

Don’t forget that there are plenty more recipes to use up your egg yolks
on the bonus recipe index.

Bon appétit!