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Grandma’s Apple Tartelettes

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.


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.

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Jen April 7, 2009 um 7:31 am

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

Maddie April 7, 2009 um 7:46 am

These look utterly delicious.

Kitt April 7, 2009 um 8:21 am

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

Unknown April 7, 2009 um 8:36 am

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 April 7, 2009 um 9:05 am

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…

Fee ist mein Name April 7, 2009 um 9:11 am

your story is so touching… thank you!

MyKitchenInHalfCups April 7, 2009 um 9:18 am

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 April 7, 2009 um 9:27 am

ooohhhhhh delicious!

NKP April 7, 2009 um 10:19 am

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

zaida April 7, 2009 um 10:34 am

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

i´ll try this canvas in the weekend.


Rosa's Yummy Yums April 7, 2009 um 10:46 am

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



Maybe April 7, 2009 um 11:04 am

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 April 7, 2009 um 11:32 am

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

LizNoVeggieGirl April 7, 2009 um 11:42 am

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

Darius T. Williams April 7, 2009 um 11:49 am

Nothing like a good tart w/exceptional crust!

Cannelle Et Vanille April 7, 2009 um 11:52 am

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.

Cannelle Et Vanille April 7, 2009 um 11:53 am

love the mood the color palette creates too!

adli April 7, 2009 um 12:27 pm

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

juliana alonso dorola April 7, 2009 um 12:29 pm

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

Marija April 7, 2009 um 12:47 pm

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 April 7, 2009 um 1:14 pm

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 April 7, 2009 um 1:27 pm

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

Tammy Lessick April 7, 2009 um 2:07 pm

They look great!

Char April 7, 2009 um 2:10 pm

so beautiful and heartwarming

Anonymous April 7, 2009 um 2:15 pm

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.

Graphic Foodie April 7, 2009 um 2:22 pm

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

Jen April 7, 2009 um 2:33 pm

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

Hayley April 7, 2009 um 2:39 pm

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

Helene April 7, 2009 um 2:43 pm

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

Philo aux fourneaux – Blog culinaire April 7, 2009 um 2:45 pm

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.

Ciao Chow Linda April 7, 2009 um 2:47 pm

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

Amber April 7, 2009 um 2:47 pm

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

Joyce April 7, 2009 um 3:09 pm

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

veron April 7, 2009 um 3:50 pm

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 • April 7, 2009 um 4:03 pm

They look so beautiful, like roses…

Jayme April 7, 2009 um 4:09 pm

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.

Helene April 7, 2009 um 4:35 pm

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 April 7, 2009 um 5:08 pm

" 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 April 7, 2009 um 5:09 pm

tres jolie!

The Short (dis)Order Cook April 7, 2009 um 5:12 pm

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.

La Cuisine d'Helene April 7, 2009 um 5:30 pm

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

Cindy Ruth April 7, 2009 um 5:40 pm

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 {bake at 350} April 7, 2009 um 5:47 pm

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

Patricia Scarpin April 7, 2009 um 5:55 pm

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

Estie April 7, 2009 um 6:01 pm

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 April 7, 2009 um 6:37 pm

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 April 7, 2009 um 6:38 pm

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.

Kate April 7, 2009 um 7:32 pm

Oh wow, they look almost too pretty to eat!

Kate April 7, 2009 um 7:32 pm

Oh wow, they look almost too pretty to eat!

Cakebrain April 7, 2009 um 8:07 pm

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!

Karynefoodaddict April 7, 2009 um 8:38 pm

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

Crystallin Smithwick April 7, 2009 um 8:56 pm

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 April 7, 2009 um 9:50 pm


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!


Rachel April 7, 2009 um 11:10 pm

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

unconfidentialcook April 7, 2009 um 11:47 pm

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

Ash April 8, 2009 um 12:07 am

These look AMAZING!!!

Helene April 8, 2009 um 12:15 am

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 April 8, 2009 um 1:15 am

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

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

Anonymous April 8, 2009 um 1:19 am

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

Ivette April 8, 2009 um 2:01 am

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

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) April 8, 2009 um 2:58 am

Exquisite, really.

Elyse April 8, 2009 um 3:55 am

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 April 8, 2009 um 5:51 am

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 April 8, 2009 um 6:33 am

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 April 8, 2009 um 6:34 am

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

Mary April 8, 2009 um 12:34 pm

they came out very nice !

Deeba PAB April 8, 2009 um 2:45 pm

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 April 8, 2009 um 6:19 pm

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

LittleHome April 8, 2009 um 7:27 pm

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

Anonymous April 8, 2009 um 8:56 pm

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 !

Helene April 8, 2009 um 9:20 pm

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 April 8, 2009 um 10:13 pm

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

dessert girl April 8, 2009 um 10:35 pm

As usual, totally gorgeous!

lynda April 9, 2009 um 1:31 am

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 April 9, 2009 um 7:27 am

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

Anonymous April 9, 2009 um 3:40 pm

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

Bonbon Oiseau April 10, 2009 um 2:59 pm

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

Bron April 10, 2009 um 8:40 pm

Beautiful! Really beautiful!

Anonymous April 11, 2009 um 8:14 pm

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

auntie jen April 12, 2009 um 12:33 am

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 April 12, 2009 um 4:21 pm

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 April 13, 2009 um 12:54 pm

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

GiDu April 13, 2009 um 4:42 pm

OH my goodness! Those look amazing!

Kristin April 13, 2009 um 5:08 pm

They look too pretty to eat!

Sunshinemom July 14, 2009 um 5:43 am

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 October 8, 2009 um 1:26 pm

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!

GRizingraz April 12, 2014 um 11:33 pm

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 April 13, 2014 um 1:16 pm

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

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