dessert

french apple tart by Nate Everett

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I love tarts. There's an elegance about open-faced desserts that makes them an attractive finish to your dinner party. This French apple tart is a cinch to make after you have mastered the technique of the dessert tart (or quiche crust-- ingredients are almost identical, just differently proportioned). It takes practice, like all baking does, but follow the detailed instructions below and you'll be a pro in no time. 

Bon appetit! 

recipe

for the tart shell:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup bleached cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 ounces chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup ice water

for the apples & glaze:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and diced butter in a food processor. Pulse about 5-7 times.
  2. Add the vegetable shortening. Turn on the food processor and with the motor running, add the 1/2 cup of water right away, then turn it off. The butter and shortening should look like small peas by now. Pulse 2-3 more times if necessary to break up the butter into pea-sized clumps. Be sure you don't overmix!
  3. Transfer the pastry dough to a lightly floured work surface. Working quickly, form the dough into a rough ball and then slice it in half with a butter knife. Form each portion of dough into a flat disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and put them in a Ziplock bag. Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours to firm up the butter.
  4. To form the tart shell, quickly roll out one of the chilled disks on a lightly floured pastry marble or work surface. The dough should about about two inches larger than the diameter of your tart pan.
  5. Use a pastry cutter to loosen the dough from your work surface, then drape it over the tart pan. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the tart pan, ensuring it has a solid rim standing half an inch higher than the top of the pan.
  6. Trim any excess dough that may be hanging over the sides of the pan. Use it to patch up the tart shell, if needed. Then, using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell until it is speckled with small holes.
  7. Refrigerate the tart shell for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 450°.
  8. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Rub the jam through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan and stir in the sugar. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently, until the glaze registers about 225°. Use while warm or reheat if necessary.
  9. Core and thinly slice the apples. Pat dry with a clean dishcloth, if needed.
  10. Pull the tart shell out of the oven and brush the bottom of the shell with a thin layer of glaze. Arrange the apple slices in a decorative pattern, sprinkle on a tablespoon of sugar, and pop that tart in the oven.
  11. Bake at 450° for 30-40 minutes or until the crust has crisped and browned lightly. Remove from oven and brush the apples with the remaining glaze. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

If you make this recipe, hashtag a pic to #spiceandhutch and post to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. I'd love to see your culinary creations!

**from Julia Child's the Way to Cook**

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chai sweet potato cupcakes by Nate Everett

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My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner was: chai sweet potato cupcakes. I kind of hit a wall in my brainstorm for a new autumnal dessert (all that came to mind was pumpkin pie!), so I did a little research using the Google Machine.

I landed on this killer recipe from the Kitchn. The recipe belongs to Tess Huff, who is one of the many contributing food writers to that site. I followed her instructions to the T and the results were excellent; the cupcakes were moist, sugary, and fragrant with the scent of chai and autumn spices. 

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The key ingredient is the chai syrup. You make a spice-infused simple syrup which you spoon into the cupcake batter and frosting. It's divine. Get the cupcake recipe hereHappy Thanksgiving!

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