When I was a little girl I had quite a few nicknames. I will spare you the ones my dear and gentle (hmmm…) brothers gave me but my family gave me two that are still around today: Tartelette and Reine des Pommes. The first one is obvious as I love to make tarts and they were probably my first venture in the kitchen. The second needs a little French idiom explanation. It’s not that I ate that many apples but " une pomme" is also a person with a kooky or funky personality. I was just that as a child, coming up from my day dreams just long enough to breath some fresh air, realize the world out there was not that great and going back deep into my fantasies.
Whenever something was wrong I’d find comfort eating some of my mother’s apple cake while reading a Charles Perrault’s fairy tale. A slice of my grandmother’s apple pie was also enough to transport me into a magical world of brave knights and pretty princesses. Yes, just from one slice. One of my favorite fairy tale was indeed Snow White, so Pomme quickly became my nickname. Even today B. calls me his "petite pomme" and I know he does not mean his "little airhead" as the idiom is sometimes used too. No man in their right mind would call his dear wife that when she is holding a plate of his favorite cookies right under his nose!
A couple of times before I have written here about our friend M. who is facing the biggest battle of her life right now. On the weekends, we go visit M. and her husband and try to help as much as we can. I do a little grocery shopping for her on my way there and try to fix a couple of dishes for the week. B. and her husband work in the same department so they talk shop or fix something around the house. I usually end up reading some pages to M. while she rests or tries to eat something. Last weekend she did not feel like reading from her current book. "Why don’t you tell me one of your stories?" she asked instead. "A fairy tale", she added. "Allright, but we need apple tartelettes for that!" I replied.
She was a little caught off guard by my response and I quickly explained the pomme nickname, the childhood day dreams, the apple desserts and Snow White. Her request was perfect as I had brought some freshly made apple tartelettes to have for dinner with them. I remembered they liked theirs with ice cream so I also made a fresh batch of cheesecake ice cream to change from vanilla. Nothing wrong with that, I just wanted something a little different. We sort of forgot to tell the men we were digging into the dessert and sat on her bed with our tartelettes and ice cream while I proceeded to tell her a fairy tale.
Yes, she was the heroin, defended by her valiant King, conquering the villain Cancer Witch with the help of Little Pomme and her wonderful Prince Pomme and their two fearless and giant dogs (hum..hum..). I know M. I know I can come up with stories like that and not make her depressed or sad. Indeed, she cracked up and felt invigorated by this little tale proving my parents they were wrong to tell me that day dreams are useless. You just have to know when to use them, that’s all.
The tartelettes are built in ring molds, starting with a sable breton base (shortbread), filled with a layer of frangipane (almond) cream and topped by slices of honey roasted apples. If you do not have ring molds, you can of course build the tartelettes into regular individual molds, they may not be as tall. The cheesecake ice cream is so easy to make and delicious I wish I could have some everyday for breakfast. Well, I could….I can….day dreaming again…oops! It is not too sweet and a nice change from vanilla ice cream. I like to add some graham cracker crumbs when I serve it on its own but I left it plain this time as they were already plenty of crust to go around. I used 3 inch round molds bought at the local craft store (Mickael’s). Same store where I get the cupcake liners (Wilton brand) that some of you asked about in the previous post. The ribbons were added with a piece of thin double sided tape.
Apple Frangipane Tartelettes With Cheesecake Ice Cream:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (93 gr) powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 1 /2 cups (188gr) flour
2 tablespoons (20 gr) cornstarch (makes for a lighter crumb)
pinch of salt
In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix briefly to incorporate. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Do not work the dough while in the mixer or it will toughen up. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between the sheets of plastic. You will need half the amount of dough to make the tartelettes. The other half can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen, well wrapped for up to 3 months. Cut out rounds with a 3 inch pastry ring. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
For the Honey Roasted Apples:
4 medium apples
1/2 cup honey
Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel core and cut the apples in thin slices. Lay them on a couple of parchment paper lined baking sheets and drizzle at will with the honey. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Let cool.
For the Frangipane Cream:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
1 cup (100 gr) ground almond
seeds from one vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream
Place the butter, sugar, almond powder, vanilla bean seeds and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place 8 baked rounds of dough in 8 pastry rings, divide the cream evenly among the rings and bake 20 minutes at 350F. Let cool. Once cooled, remove the tarts from the rings and arrange the apple slices decoratively on top.
For the Cheesecake Ice Cream:
2 cups (50cl) whole milk
1/3 cup (10cl) heavy cream
3/4 cup (170gr) sugar
2 egg yolks
4 oz cream cheese (120gr)
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. In a saucepan set on medium heat, bring the milk and the cream to boiling point, slowly pour a small amount on the egg yolks to temper. Pour the remaining over the yolks and sugar. Stir well then pour back in the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the cream thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until completely melted and incorporated. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Process in an ice cream maker according to your machine’s manufacturer’s instruction. If you do not have an ice cream machine, follow the directions laid out in this post.