Apple Frangipane Tart

The classic combination of apples and almonds come together in this impressive tart.

Apple Almond Tart
Last week, a friend humorously pointed out that when he Googles “Easy Oatmeal Cookie Recipe” he’s stuck wading through a bunch of food bloggers’ unrelated bullshit stories about their life, family, eating habits and the history of oatmeal before getting to the actual recipe.

As a food blogger, all I can say to him is…I TOTALLY FUCKING AGREE.

It drives me insane when I’m looking for a recipe and have to scroll past a 1000 word essay from Suzy about her most recent trip to Disneyworld with her “hubby” and the twins, Zach and Sadie – And dodge pop-ups hawking her latest self-published cookbook, her weekly newsletter, and a request to “like” her on Facebook. And let’s not forget the process photos…ingredients on the table…ingredients piled in a bowl…ingredients all stirred together. Ugh!

And yet, I’m just as guilty as Suzy – or at least partially.

For most bloggers, or the ones trying to make a living at it anyway (not me), it’s about SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Or, more specifically, Google SEO. If a blogger’s goal is their recipe appearing in the first page or two when someone Googles “Easy Oatmeal Cookies,” they need a post of 2000+ words in length, they need to mention their key words “Easy” and “Oatmeal Cookies” in the first paragraph, they need to include multiple “process photos,” plus a dozen more “musts.” There’s a plethora of blogger dos and don’ts for optimum Google SEO. It’s maddening.

I flirt with the Google rules, but SEO isn’t that important to me. This blog initially started as a private online journal. Before 2008, I used to handwrite in a journal nightly – stream of consciousness stuff, gibberish mostly. Then I went online in an effort to improve my writing skills. The blog, called Phorenications at the time, was a bunch of random stories and thoughts in my head. In 2009, I went to culinary school and sometime after that, Phorenications morphed into Two-Bit Tart and became a food blog. I now find myself in the same place as every other food blogger, trying to write an intro paragraph that somehow, even tangentially, ties in to whatever I made today.

I wish we had the luxury to write when we felt like writing and just post the recipe when we don’t. Tonight, for example, I would be ecstatic to post this recipe for this lovely apple almond tart and be done with it. Instead, I gave you the story above.


Apple Frangipane Tart (Apple Almond Tart)

  • Servings: One 9” Tart
  • Print

Apples and almonds are a classic combination. Make sure the crust and apples are room temperature (refrigerate if needed) before assembling.


Ingredients

    Apples
  • 5 Golden Delicious apples (about 3 lbs.), peeled and cored
  • 1 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • Crust
  • 10-oz package shortbread cookies, such as Lorna Doone
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Frangipane
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract (or ¼ t. almond ¼ t. vanilla)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Glaze
  • 3 Tablespoons apricot preserves

Directions

  1. Prepare the apples: Cut apples into quarters and each quarter into 4 slices (each apple should yield 16 slices). Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices, and water and stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until apples begin to turn translucent and slightly pliable, about 7 minutes. Spread apples on a paper-towel lined plate in a single layer to cool.
  2. Make shortbread crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a processor, pulse shortbread cookies and salt into crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. Press crumbs along bottom and up sides of a 9” tart pan. Place pan on a piece of aluminum foil to catch any leaking butter. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool.
  3. Make the Frangipane: Cream the softened butter, stir in the powdered sugar, almond flour, flour, salt, eggs, almond extract, and lemon zest.
  4. Pipe Frangipane in the bottom of shortbread crust. Arrange apple slices, tightly overlapping in concentric circles with outside curve of slices pointing up (see photo of finished tart above). Bake tart on center rack for about 60 minutes. Remove tart from oven and heat broiler.
  5. While broiler heats, warm apricot preserves 30 seconds to 1 minute until liquid. Strain preserves and brush over apples, avoiding tart crust. Broil tart, checking every 30 seconds, and moving if necessary until apples are caramelized, about 2 minutes total. Let tart cool before removing ring and slicing.

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Classic Apple Pie

Sometimes, you can’t improve on a baked-from-scratch classic, like this Apple Pie. Apples, flaky pastry, and a bit of cinnamon is all that’s needed…except maybe a scoop of ice cream.

Apple Pie from Scratch

I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday and came across two videos of recipes being prepared in fast-motion. They weren’t special recipes – one was carrot cake and other was banana bread. I was astonished to realize the banana bread recipe had received over 8 million hits. Eight…million…hits – for banana bread. My blog is over 10 years old and I haven’t reached 8 million hits total, let alone for one post.

I have online presence envy.

The truth is that I’ll probably never have 8 million hits for a post. Those videos are for people who want a recipe that’s fast…and easy…with as little fuss as possible…and doesn’t require a special pan or spice…and results in something the whole family will love. Those videos are for what I call “Everyday Cooks.” You know who they are. After a full day at work, these folks are expected to arrive home and whip up something soul-satisfying and delicious day after day after day. God bless them. I could never do that – it would suck the joy of cooking right out of me.

Instead, I write for the food enthusiast, culinary explorers who learn about different cultures through preparing and eating their food, who are enamored by new ingredients or cooking techniques, and are willing to sacrifice gluten sensitivities and sugar phobias for the perfect slice of homemade apple pie. We relish the fuss – handmade crusts, apples harvested from the garden. We are a special breed, our numbers are small, but our passion is deep.

For my fellow enthusiasts…


Classic Apple Pie

  • Servings: One 9” pie
  • Print

This crust recipe, my favorite and from The Pioneer Woman, makes three crusts. Not sure what to do with the extra crust? Freeze it and use it for a single-crust pie later.


Ingredients

    FILLING
  • 4-5 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • zest from ½ lemon
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • CRUST
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 5 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar, preferably turbinado, like Sugar in the Raw

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine apples, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Toss to coat. Set apple filling aside.
  2. Chill butter and Crisco until very cold by placing both in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and Crisco to flour and pulse on/off until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can also combine the flour and fats using a pastry blender if you don’t want to drag out your processor – more effort, less clean-up). Scrape mixture into a large bowl, add egg mixture, and stir until combined. Don’t overwork dough.
  3. Separate the dough into thirds (If you prefer a more substantial crust, separate in half) and roll into balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill. (If you will be storing the dough in the freezer for a longer period, form dough into a disk and seal in a Ziplock bag. Thaw 20 minutes before using).
  4. Preheat oven to 375⁰. Sprinkle crust with a bit of flour and then, in between two sheets of waxed paper, roll out the bottom crust, starting at the center and working your way into a 11” – 12” circle. Once the dough is the correct size, peel off the top layer of waxed paper and, using the bottom sheet, transfer the dough to a 9” pie pan. Flip the dough over, peel off the bottom sheet, and gently press the dough into the pan. Go around the pie pan tucking the dough to make a clean edge. Freeze until second crust is rolled out. Roll out the second crust into a 12” circle between two sheets of waxed paper and transfer to freezer until ready to use.
  5. Remove the bottom crust from the freezer. Sprinkle with panko crumbs (this helps avoid a soggy bottom crust). Fill with apple mixture, but do not include any juice/liquid that may have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl; Dot filling with bits of unsalted butter. Remove top crust from freezer. Peel off top sheet of waxed paper, flip crust on top of filling, and trim top pie dough so that overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only about 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath bottom crust and crimp decoratively. Cut a few decorative vents on top of pie. Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes or until crust is brown and filling is bubbly. If edges brown too quickly, cover edges with foil. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Triple Coconut Tart with Berries

July 4th Tart

July 4th in her city – there’s nothing safe nor sane about it. It starts early in the morning with fire crackers, cherry bombs and M80s and increases throughout the day to a crescendo of sky rockets and mortars with skyward explosions akin to a war zone, putting Disneyland’s nightly display to shame. By 10 p.m., a sulfuric haze has blanketed the city and she’s thankful her roof hasn’t caught fire.

Her dog-owning neighbors hate this time of year. She, on the other hand, delights in it, lucky to be owned by two unruffled felines. This one night, her city is alive and decidedly lawless. She celebrates with a backyard party each year – more anarchistic that patriotic, except for her choice of dessert.


Triple Coconut Tart with Berries

  • Servings: One 9” Tart
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Coconut in the crust, and coconut milk and shredded coconut in the pastry cream ensures coconut lovers won’t be disappointed.


Ingredients

    Coconut Pastry Crème
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Graham Cracker Crust
  • 7.5 oz. Graham crackers (2 cups crumbs)
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Topping
  • Assorted fresh berries
  • ¼ cup apricot jam
  • Sweetened whipped cream
  • Toasted coconut

Directions

  1. Make coconut pastry crème: In a medium sauce pan, whisk together flour, corn starch, salt, and sugar. Whisk in eggs, then milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until custard is very thick, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter and vanilla extract. Scrape into bowl, press plastic wrap against the surface of the custard, and chill in refrigerator for several hours until cool.
  2. Make graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers, coconut and salt until ground into crumbs. Add butter and pulse until combined and beginning to clump together. Press in the bottom and up sides of a 9” tart pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.
  3. To assemble: Pour pastry crème into crust and smooth. Cover with fresh berries. Heat apricot jam for 1 minute in microwave and strain. Brush berries with jam, decorate with whipped cream and toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Best Compost Cookies

Everything Cookies

Last week, a male reader questioned a slang word in one of my posts – “mansplaining.” He hadn’t heard the term.  Merriam-Webster describes mansplaining as, “what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.”

Some men consider the term to be a sexist Feminist word describing a non-existent phenomenon.  I am here to assure my male readers that mansplaining exists.  I’m not asserting that women don’t do something similar to men or that men and women don’t do it to each other – but mansplaining is a specific type of behavior perpetrated by men that, at one time or another, most women have experienced.

The larger category of behavior would be categorized (for men and women) as “talking out of your ass.” Example:  A childless woman, who has changed exactly 3 diapers in her life, telling a parent of 5 children the best way to change a diaper = talking out of her ass.  Within the larger “talking out of your ass” category is the subset “Mansplaining.”  It’s real, it happens…trust me on this.  My ultimate mansplaining story:

A male friend tried to “educate” me on what it’s like to have a menstrual cycle. Yep – I. Swear. To. God.  Kudos to him for reading one article about the female body.  High five for learning words like “follicular phase” and “luteal phase,”  however,  knowing the words doesn’t mean he will ever understand what it’s actually like to have a cycle until he’s experienced – oh, I dunno, 12 a year for 30+ years.

I’d never be so bold as to tell him what it’s like to have an erection – no matter how many articles I’ve read or how close I’ve…ehem… been to the experience.

Not all men mansplain.  How do you know if you’re a mansplainer? If a woman responds to your explanation with, “You DO realized I have a degree in (fill in subject here)” [and you don’t] or “Were you aware (fill in subject here) has been my CAREER for the past 10 years” [and it’s not your career] or even a “I’m familiar with (fill in subject here) since I’ve been doing it since I was 12.” [and you’ve only read about doing it], then…you are a mansplainer.  But there’s hope – the first step is admitting it.

This recipe is an ode to non- or recovering mansplainers in my life.  You deserve a cookie – a rock-star of a cookie like these compost cookies, inspired by Momofuku’s Compost Cookies.

Best Compost Cookies

  • Servings: 18 – 20 Cookies
  • Print

All my favorite cookie flavors – plus some surprises – packed into this version of Momofuku’s famous cookie.

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup toffee bits
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup Graham Crust (see below)
  • ⅓ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground coffee (not instant)
  • 2 cups kettle potato chips
  • 1 cup pretzel thins, roughly broken or mini pretzels

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Combine the butter, sugars and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Add the chocolate chips, toffee bits, sliced almonds, shredded coconut, graham crust, oats and coffee, and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Fold in the potato chips and pretzels. Don’t overmix – try to keep the potato chips in large chunks.
  5. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Slightly flatten the tops of the cookie dough domes. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly.
  6. Heat the oven to 375°. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage.


Graham Crust

A fancy version of a graham cracker crust. You can use your own version for the recipe above if you prefer.


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup powdered milk
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
  2. Whisk the melted butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.


Compost Cookies

Lemon Layer Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Lemon Layer Cake with Chocolate Gananche

It’s time for cake – help me celebrate my ten year blog-iversary today. Wow – ten years… Have I ever done anything (besides this blog) for ten years? For a girl who can’t stay dedicated to much of anything, I’m astonished to find TwoBitTart is still going. And growing – this month, I was bestowed with the most traffic ever.

But, when it comes down to it, it’s not about the click count. What makes me happiest is a reader recreating one of my recipes and posting photos (like this week) or receiving props from one of my writerly readers on my storytelling.

I started this blog in 2008 with a different name (Phorenications) and a different mission. Re-reading my very first post, I realize the content may have changed, but I haven’t, not really.  No matter how many years I do this or how much my cooking, writing and photography improves, I still feel like an amateur most days. I especially love this post from 5 years ago, wondering if I’d make it to today – without having enough time to actual bake or photograph anything for my 5 year anniversary.

This year, I had time to bake – and  a milestone anniversary like this one requires a celebratory cake like this Lemon Layer version with Chocolate Ganache Frosting. I’m going to eat a humongous slice – after ten years, I deserve it.


Lemon Layer Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

This cake is inspired by a life-changing Italian truffle. Who knew lemon and dark chocolate were made for each other?  I do now!

Ingredients

    Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • Lemon Cake
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Lemon Curd Filling
  • ½ cup lemon curd
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Directions

  1. Make Ganache: In a medium bowl, microwave whipping cream with chocolate for 60-90 minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature and whisk on high for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Make Cake: Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter two 8” round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment, butter parchment and dust with flour. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir together milk, lemon juice, and zest (mixture will curdle). In the bowl of an eletric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar gradually, beating until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Alternately add flour and milk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, mixing at low speed until just combined. Divide batter between pans, smooth tops evenly, and bake about 20 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes, then invert onto racks, remove paper and cool completely.
  3. Make Lemon Curd Filling: In a medium bowl, stir together lemon curd and lemon zest. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat whipping cream and confections sugar until it  holds stiff peaks. Fold in 1/3 of whipped cream into lemon curd to lighten, then fold in remaining whipped cream.
  4. Assemble Cake: Put one cake layer on a cake plate and spread with lemon curd filling. Top with second layer, Spread top and sides with chocolate ganache.

Lemon Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Lemon Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting