What better way to warm up your soul than a nice, sweet, buttery tart? This Brown Butter Apple Tart is an elegant dessert that will steal the show at your Thanksgiving Day table!
What Is Brown Butter and How Do You Make It?
Butter is a great flavor enhancer, making doughs nice and crispy and any filling creamy and savory. But did you know you can make it even better? This is where brown butter comes in.
Brown butter, or beurre noisette in chef speak, is a way of cooking unsalted butter in order to make its taste deeper, richer, and more intense than regular butter or melted butter.
It’s a neat little trick that you can use to instantly take your recipe to the next level.
And it’s quite simple to do; you just cook the butter past its boiling point for a few minutes to turn the milk solids brown and eliminate any water present in the butter. This process gives the butter a wonderful nutty and toasty aroma.
It is great to use in butter-based sauces, sautés or baked goods that require melted butter.
Just make sure that you never leave your butter alone while browning as it can burn pretty quickly if left unsupervised.
What Kind of Apples to Use
Ok, so we will be literally comparing apples to apples here. This is because not just any apple can make a great Brown Butter Apple Tart.
Some apples are tart, while some are sweet, and this is due to the acidity levels in the fruit, which are given mostly by the levels of malic acid. This compound is also naturally produced by our body and has been shown to have beneficial properties for your immunity, oral health, and skin; so eating an apple tart is basically medicine (that’s why you feel so great after you’ve had a slice).
A simple rule to remember: for a great tart, pick a tart apple.
There are many varieties of tart apples, but the most common ones you will find are the bright green Granny Smiths. Some other tart apples are Braeburn apples, Honeycrisp apples, McIntosh apples, Jonathan apples, Gravenstein apples, Empire apples, and Cortland apples.
This high acidity in the apple will slow down the browning process and they will not burn as easily when baked.
A tip is to slice your apples very thinly so they will cook quickly. Leave on the skin as it browns nicely in the oven.
What You’ll Need for Your Brown Butter Apple Tart
For the Crust
- 230g plain flour
- 130g unsalted butter
- 85g sifted sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1–2 tbsp cooking cream
- A pinch of salt
- Vanilla extract
For the Filling
- 4 eggs
- 3 tart apples, thinly sliced
- 200g sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla paste/ or 1 vanilla bean
- 200g unsalted butter
- 65g plain flour
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Apricot jam
- Whipped cream
- Vanilla ice cream
For the Crust:
- Put your butter, sugar, and salt,and mix for about 2 minutes until creamy and smooth.
- Then add your egg, cream, and vanilla. Mix some more until they are incorporated fully.
- Next, put in your flour and beat until the dough almost comes together. On a lightly floured surface, take out your dough and knead it 4-5 times until it comes together.
- Form a ball and flatten it into a disk and then wrap it in plastic.
- Leave the disk in the freezer for 30 minutes or overnight (if you have the patience). The dough should be firm to touch.
- Roll out your chilled dough disk between two sheets of plastic wrap, until the disk is wider than your tart pan.
- Coat your tart pan with nonstick spray or butter.
- Take off the top piece of plastic from the dough. Turn the dough upside down into the tart pan. Gently press onto the bottom and up sides and remove the other sheet of plastic.
- Trim the overhanging dough.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bake the tart crust for about 20 minutes until the dough has dried and you do not see any wet spots.
- If the center is still wet-looking, bake the crust a few minutes more until dried and opaque.
- Take your eggs, lemon zest, and sugar and whisk them in a bowl.
- Place your butter in a saucepan and keep it at medium heat. At this stage, you can put in your vanilla extract or beans and cinnamon. Stir the butter often until it bubbles for about 5 minutes until it reaches a medium brown shade.
- Let the brown butter cool for 10 minutes and then remove the vanilla bean.
- Slowly incorporate the brown butter into the egg mixture.
- Now whisk in your flour and salt.
Preparing the Apples
- With a very sharp knife or a mandoline, cut the apple in about 5 thin circles off its two opposing sides and then cut them in half. Do the same for all the apples.
- Now place your apples in the crust and place the disks to make a circle pattern in which they overlap. Do the same with the rest of the layers.
- Arrange a few discs in the middle to make a flower pattern.
- Pour the brown butter filling over the apple surface.
Assembly and Baking
- Fold the dough that is hanging over your tart pan to surround half of the exterior edge of your apple flower.
- Bake for 50 to 70 minutes until the apples have reached a deep golden-brown color and the filling is set, puffed, and cracked in the middle.
- Take out the sheet pan (or keep it on the parchment paper if you did not use a tart pan) on a wire rack and let it cool for about 2 hours.
- Remove the pan sides. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.
- Warm up some apricot jam and paint the cooked apples with a pastry brush.
Top your Brown Butter Apple Tart with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, or go crazy and do both!