Photos and Words by Corinne Ognibene
“French Apple Tart with Nutella and a Salted Peanut Crust – A French Specialty with an Italian-American Twist”
Though the intricate appearance of this tart may seem intimidating, it’s actually really simple! It’s just a matter of assembling a few easy parts. The first step is the salted peanut crust, which just takes a few minutes thanks to the help of the modern-day food processor, then comes a layer of Nutella, a fail-proof apple puree, and, lastly, the beautiful array of apples on top.
My inspiration for this recipe stemmed from a lack of blanched almonds in my house paired with an abundance of freshly picked apples. Under these circumstances, the “Apple Nutella Tart with a Salted Peanut Crust” was born! (Jeez, what a mouthful). Think about these well-known combinations: apples and peanut butter (the classic after-school snack), peanut butter and chocolate (hello Reese’s), and apples and chocolate (ever heard of edible arrangements? Yum). It should come as no surprise then, that, when combined, these three things complement each other like books and knowledge.
The instructions for each of the four steps are as follows:
This recipe yields one 9-inch Tart
Step 1: The Tart Shell
1/4 cup blanched peanuts, lightly toasted and cooled
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated suga
1/6 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons ice water
In a food processor, pulse the peanuts to finely grind, but be careful not to over do it, as this will result in peanut butter. Add the flour, sugar and salt, and process to blend. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and extract and process until combined. Add the ice water and process until the dough is formed. Remove and press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, first along the sides and then across the bottom making sure it is as flat as possible. Place this in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Once chilled, use a fork to pierce the bottom and sides of the dough. Line the dough with parchment paper and pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the pie weights and parchment, and continue to bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. If the dough puffs up too much while baking, just wait a couple minutes for it too cool off, and use your hands to lightly press the crust back down into the tart pan.
Step 2: The Nutella Layer
1/3 cup Nutella
Measure out the Nutella and place it in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it easier to spread. Spread the Nutella evenly over the bottom and place tart in the fridge or freezer to firm the Nutella layer up before adding the next layer.
Step 3: The Apple Filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apricot preserves
Add the butter and the apples to a skillet on medium heat. Add salt. Cover and let sit for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, with the skillet still over medium heat, use a potato masher to puree the apples for about 5 minutes. Doing this step over the heat allows steam to come out, which will help keep your tart from getting soggy.
Measure the apricot preserves and microwave for about 25 seconds. Strain them and measure out 3 tablespoons of the strained preserves (this will be used in the next step for the top). Then mix the rest back together with the solids and pour into the pureed apples.
Once cool, spread the puree over the Nutella layer up to the top of the shell. Bang the tart on your counter a few times to make sure it’s completely flat.
Step 4: The Topping
For the Apples on top (5 apples sliced):
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 apples, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon cold water
Add the butter and apples to the skillet. After a minute add the water. Cover with lid and let sit for about 4 minutes or until apples are slightly translucent. Gently pour apples out onto a plate and allow them to cool completely before assembly.
Starting from the outside, press the flat edge of the apple slices into the apple puree and repeat with each apple slice, shingling each slice in a big spiral motion until you get all the way to the center. Try to use the bigger apple slices for the outside and the smaller ones for the inside.