Friday, April 30, 2010

Apple Tart to Celebrate Mom

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ~Washington Irving

Today is my mom's birthday - happy birthday mom!  I really love my mom - she's taught me a lot and given me a lot.  She's taught me to laugh through life - everything is always a lot funner with her around.  She taught me to crazy dance (a very important skill when trying to scare people away).  She taught me to bake - one of my most cherished skills.  And she gave me some of her French blood without which I may not have this ridiculous addiction to bread and wine and cheese.

To celebrate her birthday I thought I would write about a recent visit with her.

I went up to Carson City last week to spend some time with my parents and my brother before I move to Taipei.  We hiked and played games and crazy danced and made a lot of really good food - including this fantastic apple tart.

We made a simple pastry crust from the Williams and Sonoma Pies and Tarts book.  I forgot to write down the recipe before I left, but it was a pretty easy crust which we made and blind baked.
Next we made a pastry cream, also from the Williams and Sonoma book, also easy, also not written down.  The only change we made was my mom's idea and it was a fantastic one!  Instead of adding vanilla extract after it cooled we added almond extract which turned out to be the perfect pastry cream flavor to go with the apples we put on top.

Finally we get to the really good stuff - the apples.  This was pure invention and pure fun!  My mom is a cinnamon fanatic so we just went crazy with the stuff.

The following is an approximate recipe - I'm pretty bad about writing things down when I'm experimenting.  It's hard to go wrong with these ingredients though.

Apple Topping

3 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp butter
about 1 tsp. cornstarch slurry (a little cornstarch with some water to make something that resembles milk)
1 cup apple juice
2 good swigs of bourbon
1/2 cup brown sugar
as much cinnamon as you can stand

Put apples in a big pan or skillet with the juice, sugar and a little bit of the cornstarch slurry.  Let juice reduce until it starts to form a thick syrup and the apples start to cook.  Add some bourbon and some cinnamon and reduce this until you get a really good thick syrup.  When the apples are cooked through and the syrup is nice and thick, take it off the heat and add in the butter.  Let the butter melt then pour the whole thing over the pastry cream in the tart.

I wish I could be with my mom on her birthday.  We might maneuver around each other in the kitchen, baking and laughing (and probably drinking a little wine).  Instead I'll just have to remember being with her last week. I love you mom!

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan

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