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    from "French Farmhouse Cookbook" by Susan Hermann Loomis

    I must admit that while I love apples, I've tasted my share of the Normandy apple desserts that left me wishing for a good bar of chocolate. But this was different. It came to the table golden and crisp, almost caramelized, and it was moist and full of delicious, flavorful apples perfumed with just the right amount of vanilla. I loved it.

    It's a simple recipe, but it takes some time and attention. It is, in fact, the kind of recipe that reminds me how a little care and time yield results that are astonishing instead of just good. The sugar, butter, eggs, and flour must be beaten long enough to make them light and airy, the apples must be chosen carefully for their flavor, and a butter and egg mixture must be spread over the tart halfway through the cooking. Find the best possible apples and make it — what results will become a family favorite.

    6 to 8 servings

    For the Tart
    6 tablespoons Vanilla Sugar (recipe follows)
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2 large eggs
    3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup milk
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 pounds tart cooking apples, such as Winesap, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch slices

    For the Topping
    1/3 cup Vanilla Sugar (Recipe Follows)
    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 large egg

    Vanilla Sugar
    8 cups (3 1/2 pounds) sugar
    2 fresh vanilla beans, or 4 used vanilla beans
    8 cups (3 1/2 pounds) sugar
    2 fresh vanilla beans, or 4 used vanilla beans

    Print recipe

    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Thoroughly butter and flour a 12 1/2 x 7 1/2-inch baking pan or a 2-quart round baking dish about 4 inches deep.
    2. Prepare the tart: In a large bowl, whisk together the vanilla sugar and the butter until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs and whisk until they are thoroughly incorporated. Then whisk in the flour. Continue whisking vigorously until the mixture is smooth and pale, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Then sift in the baking powder and whisk to incorporate it. Fold in the apples, and pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake in the center of the oven until it begins to puff and look golden, 30 minutes.
    3. While the tart is baking, prepare the topping: Whisk together the vanilla sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Then whisk in the egg to combine.
    4. Remove the tart from the oven (leave the oven on and close the oven door to maintain the temperature), and quickly spread the topping evenly over it. Return it to the oven and cook until the topping is a deep golden color, another 25 to 30 minutes.
    5. Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before serving. Or let it cool to room temperature and then serve right from the pan.

    Vanilla Sugar (8 cups; 3 1/2 pounds)
    In France, vanilla sugar is sold in pretty little packets at the grocery store. It isn't really like granulated sugar, but is rather a cross between granulated and confectioners'. This vanilla sugar works just as well. I always have at least 5 pounds on hand, and I use it in most of my pastries. It's a good way to use your vanilla beans after they've served to flavor milk or custard—just make sure they are dry before you add them to the sugar.
    Pour the sugar into an airtight container, and push the vanilla beans down into the sugar. Cover and let ripen for at least 1 week. Replenish the sugar as you use it, pouring out the sugar that is already flavored, adding new sugar to the container, and topping it with the flavored sugar. Replace the vanilla beans once every 2 months.

    Product nutrition and information
     Quantity Ingredients Est.Price
      Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans - $9.99/ea
     2 beans
      Red Jacket Orchards McIntosh Apples 4-Pack - $3.99/4pk
    You May Already Have
      Domino Granulated White Sugar - $2.49/ea
     2lb box
      Breakstone's All-Natural Unsalted Butter - $2.49/ea
     2 sticks  
      Nature's Yoke Natural Cage-Free Large White Eggs - $3.69/ea
     1 dozen
      Gold Medal All Purpose Enriched Bleached Pre-Sifted Flour - $2.29/ea
      Amish Country Farms Organic Whole Milk - $4.49/ea
     1/2 gallon
      Davis Double Acting Baking Powder - $3.19/ea
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