The apple filling that I use in the tart that I make is adapted from a recipe in Simply French by Patricia Wells. It is a bit unusual in that the apples are sautéed over high heat before they are put in the tart shell. The high heat encourages the apples to caramelize
Because all of the components of the tart—crust, filling and streusel—can be made ahead, it makes a perfect holiday dessert for the cook. The tart itself could probably be made the day before, but once all of the components are made, assembling and baking the tart is very fast and easy. Pies and tarts really do taste best when served the same day they are baked.
The most difficult thing about making the tart—and it's only difficult if you aren't familiar with the technique—is making the clarified butter to sauté the apples. Besides butterfat, butter contains milk solids, whey and water. Whole butter is not used for high heat cooking because the milk solids burn almost immediately when they come into contact with high heat. In order to be able to use butter for sautéing you must get rid of everything but the butterfat. To do this, place the butter in a saucepan—something with a small diameter is best. Melt it over medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, remove it from the heat and skim off the foam that has risen to the surface.
Brandied Apple & Currant Crumb Tart
2/3 cup dried currants
2 T. Calvados (or Brandy or cider)
2 to 2 ½ lb. Golden Delicious apples (5 or 6 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 T. clarified butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 9-inch sweet tart dough shell, unbaked (recipe below)
1 recipe streusel crumb topping (recipe below)
In a sauté pan large enough to hold the apples in a snug single layer, heat the clarified butter over high heat. Add the apples and sauté, tossing frequently, until tender and golden brown—about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over; toss and cook briefly until the apples are glazed. Add the currants and Calvados and toss again (most of the unabsorbed Calvados will boil off immediately). Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. The apples should be moist, but not soupy.
Place the chilled tart shell on a baking sheet. Scrape the fruit into the tart shell, spreading evenly, and top with the streusel—the fruit should be fully covered.
Streusel Crumb Topping:
2/3 c. flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
4 T. cold unsalted butter
Sweet Tart Dough:
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 T. granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 cake flour
Briefly cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the egg yolk and the vanilla. Add the flours and mix until well combined--it may still be in "clumps". Form the dough into a thick disk. Use immediately, or wrap in plastic and chill or freeze. Let the dough soften before rolling out.
On a lightly floured board (or between 2 sheets of plastic wrap), roll dough out to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Brush off the excess flour and transfer the dough to a greased tart pan. Ease the dough into the pan being careful not to stretch it and pressing it against the sides of the tart pan. Use your hands or the rolling pin to gently cut the dough flush with the upper rim of the tart pan. Do not worry if the dough breaks or crumbles as you put it into the pan. The dough patches very easily.