Posts tagged #fruit desserts

Irish apple tart

February 5, 2015

A friend of mine commented on facebook that her 5-year-old daughter came home from school on Groundhog Day and announced that the rascally little rodent (my words, not hers) saw his shadow and "that means sixteen more weeks of winter." Well, it already feels like sixteen years.

Another gray day today, a little more snow. The only cheerful thought I could conjure this morning was that under the circumstances I deserve to eat as many doughnuts as I please. But that would mean cleaning off my car, so I'm opting to fill the house with comforting smells instead.

This traditional Irish apple tart differs from it's All-American cousin in a few ways.  Its crust is sweeter, with a healthy dose of butter, akin to shortbread dough, and the spices are added with a light hand. Irish tarts are generally only about 1-inch high, and sometimes even made on an ovenproof dinner plate. The recipe here takes into account the standard American 2-inch-deep pie pan. 

A buttery crust that melts in your mouth gives the pie (confusingly called a tart) good  keeping qualities. 

If you're in the northern part of the country, don't let winter get you down. Fight back with pie!

Irish Apple Tart
Makes 1 10-inch tart (or pie, or whatever you want to call it, just make it.)

3 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
2 eggs, beaten

1. In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, salt, and butter pieces until mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the eggs and pulse until the dough comes together in large clumps.

2. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Shape into 2 round, flat disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for the top of the pie
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
4 cooking apples (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Milk, for brushing the crust

1. Have on hand a 10-inch pie pan and a baking sheet. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and leave for a few minutes to soften slightly.

2. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the apple slices, and toss to coat.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the larger pastry disk into a 13-inch circle. Use a rolling pin to lift it, and fit it into the pie pan. With a pastry brush, brush the rim with water.

4. Fill the pan with the apples, arranging them so they lie flat and come to the top of the pan.

5. Roll the second disk of dough into an 11-inch circle and place it on top of the pie. Press the edges together to seal. With a sharp knife, trim the excess.

6. Press a fork all around the edge to seal, or crimp with the rounded edge of a table knife pressed against your index finger. With a paring knife, cut several vent holes in the top of the pie.

7. Roll out the scraps and cut out leaf shapes, if you like. Brush the top of the pie with milk. Arrange the leaf shapes on top of the pie, brush them with milk, and dust the pie with sugar.

8. Set the pie pan on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes longer, or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and let settle for at least 20 minutes before serving. 

Fall: A distant memory

Fall: A distant memory

Posted on February 5, 2015 and filed under Fruit desserts.

Rhubarb crumble

How to take a “stay-cation”:

Make a really good summer dessert.

Invite a friend to share it.

Sit under a tree on a pleasant afternoon.

Savor the sweetness without a whisper of guilt, preferably with vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb crumble

May be humble

Yet it suits me

I won’t grumble

Give me tea

A chair outside

No need to travel

Far and wide

Rhubarb Crumble (Serves 4 to 6)

Cooking rhubarb has an unpredictable side. How will it turn out? Will it be as beautiful as a bowl of rubies, or a disappointing gingery brown? To preserve that yearned-for red color, I’ve tried the following method that works about seventy percent of the time. Darned if I can figure out why, and believe me, I’ve tried. First, cook the rhubarb very briefly in a wide pan to facilitate evaporation of the juices, which may contribute to the dilution of the color (best guess.)  Then immediately transfer it to a baking dish, top it with the crumble and bake.


3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch fine salt

Pinch of baking powder

6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut in thin slices

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1. Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process with a series of short bursts until the mixture looks crumbly and is the color of cinnamon toast. It should not look at all floury. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the nuts.

(To make by hand, stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter and use your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a wire whisk to break up the butter into pea-size pieces. Continue to work the mixture until it looks crumbly and is the color of cinnamon toast. Stir in the nuts.)


1 cup organic cane sugar or white sugar

1 small orange

2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths (to make about 6 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Set a 10-inch by 2-inch round baking dish next to the stove. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Measure the sugar into a wide (12-inch), deep sauté pan. Finely grate the zest of the orange over the sugar. Halve the orange, extract the juice and add it to the pan. Stir the mixture over high heat until the sugar liquefies and the mixture comes to a boil.

3. Add the rhubarb to the pan and stir just until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook the rhubarb, stirring often, for 3 minutes, or until it begins to soften but does not yet fall apart. Stir in the vanilla.

4. Immediately pour the rhubarb into the baking dish. Let cool for 10 minutes. Cover the rhubarb with the crumble topping and bake for 15 minutes, or until the top is browned. Serve warm.

Around the web, try 

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's many recipes for rhubarb

Red-wine poached rhubarb from David Lebovitz

Strawberry rhubarb cobbler from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes

Rhubarb fool with gingersnaps from Cookin' Canuck

Posted on June 8, 2011 and filed under Fruit desserts, Summer food.

Celebrate spring with a lemony ricotta tart

I have been fiddling with this ricotta tart recipe ever since I came back from Italy a few years ago. I tasted it in a restaurant in Florence and had one of those aha moments.

Yes indeed! This is my kind of dessert! It is creamy, light, not too sweet, and imbued with the delicate aroma of lemons. In other words, it is the perfect light dessert to follow a holiday meal. Or in my case, it could be a complete holiday meal. I admit, even though I no longer eat sweets with abandon, I could gobble the whole tart up all by myself. In one sitting. It is that good

Italians seem to do a superb job when it comes to commemorating holidays, so that’s where I turn for inspiration as the seasons unfold. Let’s face it, they’ve got us beat. They’ve been at it a lot longer and they haven’t been inhibited by our Puritan inclinations. So much to choose from, so little time.

Trying to replicate something from memory is challenging (especially after a vacation.)  But on a visit to my local market this week, the sight of a very high quality fresh ricotta motivated  me to have another go at this tart. The ricotta comes in a cute little white tin with a perforated bottom to allow excess liquid to drain. It is the real McCoy: clean and sweet, good enough to eat with a spoon all by itself or drizzled with a little honey. I was not disappointed, and I offer you the results of my experiment. The crust is very buttery and difficult to roll out, so I pressed it into the pan instead. I’ve given you a blow-by-blow tutorial below.  Now you have no excuse not to make it.

After a cool and often rainy week, the grass has suddenly brightened and shed its dismal winter coat of brown. The trees show us pale, green promises on their branches. We must seize the day to celebrate them—our New England spring is as tentative as the buds and will quickly turn to summer in a blink. At last the weather is catching up with the calendar. It is time to celebrate.

Ricotta lemon tart (Makes one 9-inch tart)

The crust:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick, 85 g) cold, unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch pieces, plus a little for the pan

1 cup all-purpose flour (145 g), plus a little for the pan

3 tablespoons (38g) sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon fine salt

1 egg, separated

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Generously butter a 9 X 1-inch tart pan with a removable rim.  Sprinkle with flour to coat the bottom and sides of the pan  and tap out the excess. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process for a few seconds until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and 1 tablespoon cool water and process until the mixture forms small clumps but has not yet gathered into a ball. (By hand, rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips. When it is well combined, work the egg yolk, vanilla and water into the dough with your fingertips.)

3. Dump the crumbly dough into the prepared pan. Press it evenly into the sides of the pan first and then spread the remainder of the crumble evenly over the bottom. Press the dough firmly and evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan with the help of a (dry) measuring cup and some patience.

4. Set the pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven and brush the bottom and sides with some of the reserved egg white (you won’t use it all). Return it to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until it is golden brown. The egg white provides a barrier for the filling and keeps the crust from getting soggy. Remove the pan from the oven. While the crust is baking, make the filling.


1 1/2 cups (340 g) fresh, whole milk ricotta

2 ounces (57g) cream cheese, at room temperature 

1/3 cup (67g) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup(119 g) heavy cream

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting the tart

1. Beat the ricotta and cream cheese together on low speed with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and salt and when it is incorporated add the eggs. Mix on low speed until smooth and mix in the cream. (By hand, beat the ricotta and cream cheese together with a wooden spoon. Add the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and salt, and when smooth, beat in the eggs. Finally, add the cream and mix until smooth.)

2. Pour the filling into the partially baked crust.  Bake the tart (still on the cookie sheet) for 45 to 50 minutes, until set. To test, poke a toothpick into the center of the tart; it should emerge with only a few crumbs.

3. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.


Generously butter and flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor. 

Process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolk, vanilla and water.

Process until the dough looks crumbly and almost comes together.

Pour it into the prepared pan.

Use your fingers to evenly press the crumbs into the sides of the pan first;  then press them into the bottom. Firm them up evenly with the use of a measuring cup and a piece of plastic wrap to keep the cup from sticking to the dough.

Bake the dough for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove it from the oven and brush it evenly with egg white (you may not need to use all of it.) Return the dough to the oven and bake again for about 15 minutes, or until it is golden brown.

Set the tart pan on a baking sheet. Pour the filling into the dough.

Bake at 350 degrees until the filling is set, 45 to 50 minutes.

Posted on April 23, 2011 and filed under Pies and Tarts, Sweets, How To.