Grandma's Apple Tartelettes

Monday, April 06, 2009

Grandma's Apple Tarts - Afternoon Baking

I know I have kept building this up since my mother's ratatouille and wrote a couple of other things in between. Part of me is thrilled to share my grandma's apple tart with you and part of me wants to keep it inside just a little longer. It's unlike me not to share so these past few days I kept wondering why it was so dang hard to write this very simple, very humble yet delicious recipe. A simple pate sucree topped with a vanilla bean apple compote and thin slices of apples. A sprinkling of sugar.

You can guess that it is just not about the tart. It's the mamie behind it and telling "her" in a few paragraphs in a blog can't possibly explain why this recipe means so much to us and why we absolutely love to make it. I am willing to try though, because I know that my grandmother is very much like yours. Comforting, simple and sometimes complex.

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What can I say that could possibly do justice to my grandmother's heart and personality? She was married to my grandfather for 71 years (love their wedding picture). This year they would have celebrated 75 years of marriage and I get all choked up when I think know what my grandfather truly wants nowadays. I know he wishes to see her again soon. It never saddens me when I hear him say that. I smile instead. I want to make him her apple tart so that he can smell the wonderful aromas of vanilla beans and apple "compoting" together. So that he can hear the swishing of her apron as I roll the dough for the crust. So that he can pass beside me as I am slicing the apples and say "listen to your grandmother. She knows when they are too thick".

Following her thought that a recipe is a canvas for the baker to give a recipe his or hers personality, she never wrote the ingredients or recipe down. To anyone who asked her about it she would simply jot down "pate sucree - compote de pommes - tranches de pommes". Basically, if you use what you know you like, you can't go wrong even if it changes every time you make it. I did just that. I added some almonds to the dough for a little earthy flavor. I combined vanilla and cardamom for the cooked apple and I sprinkled the sliced apple with some sugar rubbed with lemon zest. To me that was Mamie. A little bite, a little spice, a good bit of delicious and a touch of pizzaz.


Grandma's Apple Tarts

Apple Tartelettes Recipe:

Makes four 4- inch tartlets

Pate Sucree:
2 tablespoons (20gr) slivered almonds
1/2 (60gr) cup powdered sugar, unsifted, divided
1/2 stick (56.5gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (90gr) all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350F.
Place almonds and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, ground nuts and salt on medium speed until well-combined. Slowly add remaining powdered sugar and flour and mix well. Add the egg yolk and mix until incorporated. Shape dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
Place the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll it out to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out four 6- inch rounds and fit them inside four 4- inch tartlet molds, patting the dough in with your fingertips if it breaks on you as you transfer the rounds. Gather the scraps and set aside.
Prick the dough with a fork and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F and bake the shells for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

Apple Compote:
1/2 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon (2gr) ground cardamom
2 tablespoons sugar
4 medium apples (your preference. I went with Fuji)
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup (60 to 80ml) water

On a flat surface, cut the vanilla bean in half lenghtwise without cutting all the way through and scrape the seeds from the pods with a pairing knife. Place them in a large saucepan along with the cardamom and sugar. Set aside.
Peel, core and roughly chop the apples. Add them to the vanilla and sugar mixture along with the water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down, cover and let the apples stew for 30 to 45 minutes. Check every 20 minutes to and add water to the mixture if the liquid evaporates faster than the apples can cook. I tend to cook mine just unti soft so that they keep a bit of texture under the tooth. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Divide the mixture evenly among the tart shells.

Apple Topping:
2 tablespoons (15gr) granulated sugar
zest of half a lemon
2-3 medium apples

In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and lemon zest so that the citrus natural oils can flavor the sugar.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples (the thinner the prettier. Decoratively arrange the slices over the compote and sprinkle evenly with the sugar.
Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top appples are golden brown.

88 comments:

Sarea said...

Thank you for sharing. Those tartelettes look gorgeous and delicious!

Maddie said...

These look utterly delicious.

Kitt said...

How charming and delicious they look! Maybe your grandmother will enjoy having a little bit of her spirit out traveling the world this way.

A G Photography said...

This recipe is pretty popular also here in Italy but your photo made it look a lot more appetizing than usual.

I particularly like how fresh and "crisp" the tartelettes look instead than the usual ones covered with icing.

Mélanie said...

A great post, thanks for putting all your feelings for us to share with you... My mother used to make the same kind of apple tart, this brings back so many memories...

FeeMail said...

your story is so touching... thank you!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I love your words: A little bite, a little spice, a good bit of delicious and a touch of pizzaz. That is a woman to adore and worship.
The tart . . . 100% Tartelette!

Helen said...

ooohhhhhh delicious!

Natashya said...

They are so beautiful, like blossoms. Amazing that your grandparents got to spend so much time together. 71 years is remarkable.

zaida said...

this post is so charming. you´ve wet my eyes with tenderness.

i´ll try this canvas in the weekend.

thanks!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

The apple compote adds a delicious touch! Very pretty and delicious¨

Cheers,

Rosa

Maybe said...

I totally understand that you want to keep precious family recipes secret, I'm just like you ! Thank you for sharing it, I always appreciate sharing cooking secrets !

Aimée said...

Truly a work of art, Helen, thank you for sharing a piece of your family's heritage.
Love the addition of cardamom!

VeggieGirl said...

Another family favorite treat - thank you for sharing the recipe, dear Helen!!

Darius T. Williams said...

Nothing like a good tart w/exceptional crust!

Aran said...

i get emotional just thinking about what this means to you. i can relate very much and happens to me every time i think of my grandmother who fortunately, is still with us.

nothing like a grandma recipe. i wish i could taste it. the recipe doesn't really matter because even if PH made it, it wouldn't taste like your grandmother's.

Aran said...

love the mood the color palette creates too!

adli said...

wow!! the tart looks so gorgeous! I want to try one right away! if only I could get my assignments done~

juliana said...

beatifull post! it remaind me of my "abuela"... she never wrote a recipe either

Marija said...

So beautiful post!

Most of my grandma's recipes were never written down also :( But, I am so happy that she did leave a notebook with a few!

Angela@spinachtiger said...

I understand the "holding back" of a recipe. I feel that way with some of my aunt's specialities that she passed down to me. Thank you for sharing a beautiful tart today. Apple anything creates a sense of warmth and love.

Leigh said...

These do look scrumptious!
Tell me though: where can you find tartlet molds?

Tammy Lessick said...

They look great!

Char said...

so beautiful and heartwarming

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting for an apple tart recipe. What a treasure to receive from your grandmother. My grandparents were married 74 years, Gramma dying at 94 when Grandie was 99. He said he still couldn't think of anything wrong about her. Butterflies bring them back for me.

Foodie said...

Beautiful wedding picture and recipe. I love apple tartlettes as am rarely in the mood for something super-sweet. Lovely.

Jen said...

Helen- the tartelettes look beautiful and are such a lovely tribute to your grandmother. I hope to make them soon.

Hayley said...

What a wonderful lady. Thank you so much for sharing, the tarts look beautiful!

Tartelette said...

Leigh: you can find tart rings online at amazon.com, JB Prince, Kerekes Bakery. I have also seen them at Sur La Table.

Philo said...

Jolies tartelettes et si j'ai bien compris un mix entre la recette de ta grand-mère et ta touche perso. Ca donne vraiment de belles saveurs en bouche.
Bisous

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Such a special story. I loved your grandparents' wedding photo. A truly lovely post.

Amber said...

These are so beautiful, but the story makes them extra special! I can't wait to make them. Thank you for sharing!

Joyce said...

Helen, thank you for sharing something so dear to you. I will treasure this recipe all the more.
Enjoy! xoxo

veron said...

Sweet!! Do I have esp or what. I was going to ask you how you make your pate sucree...and here it is. I shall make this tart immediately...hubby has been complaining about lack of apple desserts lately!
I've ordered more tart rings from jbprince. but they are 3 inches...would the apples be too big when I arrange them?

• friX • said...

They look so beautiful, like roses...

Jayme Duke said...

Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman. And how sweet that your grandparents were married for 71 years! I absoultely love their wedding picture. True love, ahh! :)

Can't wait to try out these tartelettes.

Tartelette said...

Veronica: that would work but it might drive you batty with raw apples, even if they are small. With smaller rings, one thing you can do is slice your apples thin, place them on a line baking sheet, sprinkle some sugar and cook them at 325F until soft (about 15-20minutes). Then you can definitely move them around more easily. Just reduce the final baking time (sort of like a quick warm up).

tara said...

" A little bite, a little spice, a good bit of delicious and a touch of pizzaz."

What a wonderful, wonderful description. We should all be so lucky to be so loved.

Jen said...

tres jolie!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Those are so cute (and delicious looking). I think what really makes these special is the memory behind them. Love is the most important element in any recipe, and there is no greater love in a recipe than one that has been shared by someone you care about.

Love that wedding picture! How wonderful to be married that long.

Helene said...

Totalement sublime, j'aime bien l'arrangement pour les photos.

Cindy Ruth said...

Beautiful tarts, and thanks for telling us the story about your grandparents. Their wedding photo is just beautiful! When I make this tart, I'm sure I'll think of them.

Bridget said...

What a sweet, sweet post! I'm sure your grandmother is smiling down on you! ♥

Patricia Scarpin said...

Helen, I absolutely love how the apple slices look like a flower - so delicate!

Estie said...

So beautiful and reminds me so vividly of my own great-grandmother.

Technical question-what are the measurements of the ring molds you use?

Jen Yu said...

Oh, I love this story behind the recipe. Family recipes are indeed very special for these reasons. Your grandfather sounds so sweet. You must bring some good memories to him with your incredible baking talents, I'm sure :) xxoo

Lori said...

You have a distinct way of touching my heart with your sentiment. I guess you touch everyones heart - that is why we keep coming back. And you thought it was your pastries or your amazing phtography. Just kidding- its of course the total package, heart-pics-pastry. Beautiful Helen as always. God Bless your beautiful Mamie- such a tribute to her and her love that comes through in you.

Kalee said...

Oh wow, they look almost too pretty to eat!

Kalee said...

Oh wow, they look almost too pretty to eat!

Cakebrain said...

Food and family are so entwined in our minds. I so understand where you're coming from with your grandmother and her baking! My maternal grandmother comes to my mind vividly with certain foods I think about. These food associations are welded to our minds through having experienced vivid sensory imagery; the sounds, smells, tastes and feelings are truly are a peg for our memories. Lovely anecdote and delicious looking tartelette!

Karyne said...

oh oui! ça fait très français! on dirait des tartelettes de pâtisserie! bravo! très beau et surement très bon!!!!

Crystallin Smithwick said...

From the first moment I saw your blog header I admired that apple tartlette. Now I see why you choose it.

I cannot wait to make it, and maybe it keep my husband of 25 years entranced for another 45.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Finalement!

I was intrigued by your header photos from day one; one can only assume this is the tartelette in the photo?

Ils sont vraiment jolie!

Lovely!

Rachel said...

really looks like such a fabulous recipe! love your photos too!

unconfidentialcook said...

Seventy one years...now that's amazing! The little tarts look simply beautiful.

Ash said...

These look AMAZING!!!

Tartelette said...

Prudent Homemaker: the tarts in the header were posted a few months ago (apple frangipane tartelettes) whereas my mom and I made these when they were visiting this past month.

La Table De Nana said...

J'adore la photo de vos grands -parents:)

I will make your Mamie's Tartelettes one day soon.Thank you.

coffeegrounded said...

You've posted a beautiful tribute to your Grandma; you should be proud.

Ivette said...

Great recipe! Your apple tartelettes look really cute and very yummy! Thanks for sharing :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Exquisite, really.

Elyse said...

What a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing such a precious recipe with us. Your grandmother sounds amazing, as does your grandfather. I'm so glad that you can bring him such wonderful memories by baking your grandmother's tart. What an exquisite family you have!

Irene said...

A lovely recipe, Helen, it is such a pleasure to know your grandmother through your eyes! I would love to make these... right after Passover. :)

Christy said...

Oh helen, what a moving story. Being married for 71 years...wow. I don't even know, or even can imagine, how long that is. But it is fortunate of him to have a granddaughter like you, who can bake an apple tart just like his much beloved wife's.

Christy said...

Love the photos too!! Very rustic, feminine and comforting!

Mary said...

they came out very nice !

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Just charming Helen, & a very evocative post. I can almost hear the apron rustling & the aromas wafting through! Thank you for being so generous with the recipe...I love it's simplicity & beauty!

Laurie said...

I love how these have such a beautiful Florette look! I bet they taste tasty too!

Tintel said...

Brought me to tears. So sweet, grandparents AND tartelettes.
Love, Tintel

delimoon said...

Je suis très intriguée par les moules que vous utilisez. Quelle taille ont-ils ? On dirait des moules à charnière. Est-ce le cas ?
Où est-il possible de s'en procurer ?
Merci de vos précieuses infos !
verO

Tartelette said...

Vero: ce sont des cercles a tartes basique de 10 cm de diametre sans charnieres. En France je pense qu'on doit les trouver chez un bon fournisseur pour restaurant. Ici, JBPrince, Kerekes Bakery, Sur La Table, amazon, etc...

Julia @ Mélanger said...

I hear stories like that, and think of my own family. Love is amazing. Helen, thank you for sharing.

dessert girl said...

As usual, totally gorgeous!

lynda said...

I love the rustic simplicity of these tarts but with the hidden apple compote layer as a snice surprise inside. Thanks for sharing. The wedding pic of your grandparents is truly beautiful. 71good years together...how amazing is that?! Thanks for sharing!

Y said...

How beautiful, and so elegant too! I love how everything you create has so much meaning and emotion behind it.

onlinepastrychef said...

A lovely homage to your grandmother; thank you for sharing this.

Bonbon Oiseau said...

i love this post helen! andf the tarts are so perfectly beautiful, like little flowers..i wish i could eat one!

Bron said...

Beautiful! Really beautiful!

nutritiontokitchen said...

Such a sweet story - love the tartelettes and the pic of your grandparents is so endearing!

auntie jen said...

Love the pictures!! I think that I'll make them tomorrow - Can you tell us the amount of powdered sugar in the Pate Sucree? The recipe says "1/2 (60gr) powdered sugar, unsifted, divided" I don't have scales so what is the 1/2___ ?
Thanks for all of the amazing recipes and pictures!

Penny said...

A very touching post. What a beautiful couple. My Mom felt the same after Dad passed away. I just posted about her. Food ties us to so much emotion and comforts the soul.

Jenny said...

Lovely. I have similar apple memories of my own grandmother.

GiDu said...

OH my goodness! Those look amazing!

Kristin said...

They look too pretty to eat!

Sunshinemom said...

A post I did not read?!!

I am sure that tastes so good! My paternal G'Ma is the only one with us now but I remember how we used to enjoy with them so much:). Beautiful memories very beautifully penned!

Anonymous said...

I made these last night since I've always wanted to try the filling and the dough mixture. Since I didn't bake it in the individual tart molds, I doubled the dough recipe to make it into a 10.5" tart mold. I couldn't roll out the dough after it being refrigerate as I think it is very moist (?) So I simply patched the dough into the mold and baked. The dough shrunk a little and it did take me about 30 - 35 minutes total to bake - I'm thinking my oven need serious calibration?!!!

I haven't tried the tart but I'm very excited! I just love the cardamom and vanilla combo!

Thanks for sharing and for posting such a nice recipe from your grandma! As always, love your site!

Jean Woessner said...

Hi there
I love this recipe and the story behind it. Thank you for sharing!
I have a question about the tart pans you used. These look more like mini-tart RINGS (Gobel rings?)than pans. I was wondering about making the pate sucre in mini-tart pan and whether those should be with removable bottom or if that matters. Thanks for your help!

Helene said...

Jean: any tart pan or ring or dish will work.

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