Autumn is the season of the apples. Back in the New York, it was the tradition to go apple picking, or stocking up on baskets full of crispy sweet apples from the city farmers markets. When I came to Paris, one of my biggest transitions was not having as “enthusiastic” an autumn. The colors were duller, people didn’t go crazy over pumpkins and decorations (don’t get me started on lack of Halloween), but then, my boyfriend’s family traded their secluded country home in the Loire Valley for a home by the sea in Normandy, the absolute center of apples in France. Autumn was back on, and maybe even bigger than I’ve ever experienced. The magical home came with an actual garden of Eden. Every kind of flower, rose, fruit tree, berry bush you could ever dream of grew from that soil and seems to double in size every year. A garden with frog ponds and hidden paths, wild fields home to birds and small animals, giant pine trees, English garden corners for autumn lunches in the sun. And the apple trees... there must be over twenty ancient apple trees, all a different type. In the Autumn, as the sea air blows mist up the hills, settling on the farms, the most magical sights appear. Through the grey silvery air you’ll find crooked apple trees with their ancient branches bent under the weight of their bright fruit; a ring of green or yellow or red apples surrounding the trunk in a perfect circle where they fell, almost like fairy rings appearing in the mist
With the apples come the figs and blackberries, nuts and the pumpkins from the vegetable garden. Autumn is the time of harvest and plenty and we’ve gotten to the point of almost too much. I never knew having too many apples could be stressful. It’s such a shame to let them go to waste, but until we get a cider press and enlist all the friends into a weekend of brewing, I’m afraid well have no choice but to let some sink back into the earth.
But what to do with all the apples that one does manage to take home?
This apple marzipan honey nut tarte is one of my favorite ways to capture the season. It combines the intentions of a classic apple pie with a French touch. It’s deceptively easy to make and is healthy–I’m actually giving you two options, either make this with a premade/butter crust or go for the slower, yet healthier nut based crust.
If using the regular crust, roll it out onto a greased pie/baking dish, puncture a few forks holes to let the air escape, weight it down with pie weights or dried beans, and bake at ____ for 20 minutes until crisped but not browned at the sides.
If going for the nut variety, combine all the crust ingredients into a food processor and purée until smooth with a bit of texture. Grease the baking dish and with your fingers, mold the nut dough into the dish, ensuring that it is of even thickness throughout. Bake at 350ºF ____ for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly hardened.
Now for the filling! Soften the marzipan by microwaving it in a bowl for about 15 seconds. With a knife, spread the marzipan evenly over the baked crust.
Slice the apples into thin wedges 1/2 a cm thick and lay them over the marzipan in a concentric shape. Drizzle with honey. Bake for another 15 minutes at 300ºF until the apples soften but don’t lose form.
If you want to give your tart an extra flare of the unusual, add a few teaspoons of minced rosemary to the apples, or top off your tart with a few dollops of mascarpone cream.