There have been so many awesome photos of Thanksgiving feasts on blogland these past few days! Us food bloggers are a well-fed bunch, that's for sure. We had a Thanksgiving for two, so I only had to make dessert for two. What to make? Decisions, decisions. Pumpkin? Nah, I'm all pumpkined out. Apples? Mmmmaybe. But what? Apple pie? Meh. Apple galettes? Not creamy enough. Apple cream tarts? Sounds like a winner!
These little tarts were delicious, but so very unphotogenic.
Apple Cream Tarts
Ingredients and steps for the crust:
1/2 cup margarine (I used soy-free Earth Balance)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp water
1 cup whole wheat pastry or all purpose flour
It is mandatory to watch a FRIENDS Thanksgiving marathon on Thanksgiving day. So I gathered my ingredients and utensils while I watched my favorite episode ever (Thanksgiving or not), which is "The one where Ross got high". In this episode, Rachel tries to make a traditional English trifle, but ends up failing miserably when she adds beef, peas and onions to the dessert. This episode is full of buffoonery to the extreme!
OK, now that that's out of the way, let's get serious... ish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray two four-inch mini tart pans with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, cream the margarine and the sugar with an electric mixer for about one minute. I used turbinado sugar that I ground to a fine powder in the Magic Bullet. If you're using plain white sugar you don't have to worry about grinding it, and you don't have to grind your turbinado for this, I just like how much smoother it makes the dough.
Add the almond extract and the water and mix for another minute until everything looks smooth and creamy.
Stir in the flour using a wooden spoon. If the dough is too sticky you might have to add more flour, one tablespoon at a time until the dough is workable.
Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a ball. Both balls should be about the same size (oh, har har!) I went all fancy pants and weighed each ball to make sure they weighed about the same.
Place each ball in the middle of each mini tart pan and press down with your fingers to distribute the dough evenly on each pan.
Use a large measuring cup or glass to press down the dough and form even-enough edges all around. You could just do this with your fingertips, but what fun is that?
Lift and press the measuring cup all around until the edges of the tarts look like this...
Now that we're done with the dough, take the crust-to-be to the fridge and lets move on to the cream filling.
Ingredients and steps for the cream filling:
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup milk (I used oat milk)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
I don't like to make custards on the stove top-that's what the microwave is for! If you want to make a tiny custard in a tiny saucepan on the stove top go for it though. That's just too much work and too many dirty dishes for my taste.
In a glass measuring jar, combine the cornstarch and a little bit of milk (about two tablespoons) and stir until the cornstarch dissolves completely. Stir in the rest of the milk and microwave for 30 seconds. Take the jar out and stir. Microwave for 30 seconds. Take the jar out and stir (it should be starting to thicken at this point). Microwave for 15 seconds. Take the jar out and stir and microwave for 15 more seconds. It should have thickened into a lovely custardy puddingy cream at this point. If it didn't, nuke it for 15 more seconds.
Now that the custardy puddingy cream has thickened, let's add the goodies! Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla until it's creamy again. It will look a little chunky-monkey while you're stirring it at first, but it will get smoother in a few seconds.
Pour about half of the custardy puddingy cream into each crust. Unless you have three hands and you've been stirring it constantly it will look a little lumpy, but it won't taste lumpy when the tarts are done.
Use a spoon to spread the cream filling evenly.
Take them back to the fridge and let's peel some apples!
Ingredients and steps for the apple topping:
1 or 2 red apples
1 tbsp maple syrup
Here's the thing, if you want a thin layer of shredded apples, then you only need one. You should probably reduce the amount of maple syrup to 1/2 tablespoon too. If you want a thick layer then you will need two apples. I went with two apples for maximum appley goodness!
Peel and shred the apples. I don't know about you, but I hate shredding things by hand! My food processor took care of that chore for me. Isn't he nice? Transfer the shredded apples to a mixing bowl and drizzle the maple syrup over them.
Use a fork or a spoon to move the shreds around and coat them evenly with the syrup.
Spoon the apple mix on top of each tart and sprinkle some magic cinnamon all over the appley goodness.
Bake them at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown and the apples are cooked. The crust should expand a little bit and it should be a little higher than the edges of the pan.
Let the tarts cool down a bit for about ten minutes and then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack.
The flavors of the almond extract, the maple syrup, the apples and the cinnamon work wonderfully together. My favorite way to eat them is while they're still barely warm and all gooey, and I keep the cinnamon handy in case I want an extra dash or two on top.
I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step recipe! Would you like to see more posts like this? I had lots of fun photographing each step, too bad the finished tarts were acting like total divas and refused to be very photogenic.
I hope everyone is having an awesome week! Any snow in your area yet? We're supposed to get some tomorrow! YAY! :)