The traditional flavor combination of apples, walnuts, and maple syrup are nestled into a crunchy, crumbly cookie crust. It is easier to make than regular pie pastry, and fun to model as it has the consistency of “play dough.” Since there is no top crust, the apples will not steam but retain much of their crispness. The firm texture of the apples set against the fine grain of the crust pairs well with creamy vanilla ice cream.
Instead of pie, try this tart for Thanksgiving dinner.
1 cup all-purpose flour (120 g)
¾ cup walnut pieces (110 g)
1 tsp baking powder (5 mL)
¼ tsp salt (1 mL)
4 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature (55 g)
2 egg yolks, reserve whites
2 Tbsp maple syrup (30 mL)
½ tsp vanilla extract (2.5 mL)
1.5 lb pie apples (4 to 5 apples) (675 g)
4 Tbsp maple syrup (75 mL)
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp sugar (15 mL)
2 Tbsp of the reserved toasted walnuts (30 mL)
¼ tsp cinnamon (1 mL)
Put ¾ cup (110 g) of walnut pieces in a skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the walnuts for a few minutes until fragrant, stir occasionally to prevent burning. Stop cooking when you smell the aroma of the walnuts. This initial toasting brings out the flavor of walnuts, you will really smell them when they are ground in the processor. Measure 2 tablespoons of the chopped walnuts, and reserve for the topping. Put the remaining nuts in a food processor and grind them to a fine powder.
Add the flour, maple syrup, salt, and baking powder to the processor, and run the machine to blend the ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the butter, yolks, and vanilla, and run the machine to combine. Dump the contents of the food processor directly into a 9-inch tart pan (23 cm). This is a type of cookie dough so it cannot be rolled out like pie pastry.
Model the pastry with your fingers and a flat-bottomed drinking glass to an even thickness. Work the dough up the sides of the pan, and level the top of the crust.
Brush the inside of the tart shell with some of the reserved whites. Refrigerate until ready to fill.
Pie apples are varieties bred specifically for baking; they will hold their shape, retain some texture, and have their own distinctive aromatic and flavoring qualities. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Toss with the maple syrup, and pour the filling into the prepared crust.
Smooth the surface while compressing it slightly to express some of the air. Brush the top of the apples with the melted butter. Chop the nuts and toss with the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl to combine. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the tart.
Bake in a preheated 375° (190° C) degree oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until the tart is bubbly and the topping is slightly browned. If your oven temperature is accurate it should take the full 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving to allow the tart to set. Remove the outer ring to the tart pan, and place the tart on a cutting board. Slide a long, thin knife, such as a carving knife between the tart and the metal disc.
Slide the disc from under the tart using the back of the knife to push it out.