Two Tarts

K.’s creativity was unbounded yesterday. Even with a poorly equipped kitchen and a difficult-to-adjust apartment-size oven, she undertook to make not one but two apple tarts as our contribution to dinner with the Hunter-Gatherer and R. Two, K. felt, was necessary because the guest list was long enough that with only a 9.5 inch tart pan, the size of the pieces would have been too meager. We all moaned happily and involuntarily as we forked morsels into our no-longer-hungry maws.

This particular recipe (sorry, I don’t have it) has a shortbread crust, a cream cheese custard with small apple bits, and spiced sliced apple top layer, and I think K. got it from a B&B somewhere (not Helmer).

She’s willing to go to considerable trouble for not only desserts, but also any other dish. Me, I’ll fuss with main dishes, but I generally do fairly simple sides, etc., and, okay, get “fancier�? desserts from the bakery—not an option up here!

Consider: to use a single tart pan to make two tarts, you have to convince the first one to part company from the pan so you can reuse it. Consider: a shortbread crust is very fragile for such an operation!

And, yet, with considerable application of ingenuity, we did it!!!

Postscript: as the second tart was in the oven and the heat both in the kitchen and outdoors was becoming oppressive, we finally!! got a rainstorm, which cooled everything down, although even on sandy soil, the moisture only penetrated an inch.


  1. K (who else!!??) says:

    … apple tart recipe to come, although it already came this far from a B&B in Northfield, MA called Centennial House. My one addition to the descriptions above: Parting tart from pan was entirely thanks to Sam\’s fabulous engineering idea: slide it off using a plastic bag lassoed around 1/2 of the fragile tart crust and the strong finger of a helper holding on to the underneath pan bottom. Make no sense? Didn\’t think so, but trust us, it enabled everyone to gorge on far too much rich dessert than was good for us. A very creative UP experience at or near the MOST famous (certainly most exclusive) UP B&B fondly known as The Green Cottage. It is now red, points out my husband, so HE fondly calls it the Red Green Cottage — a midwestern joke from our neighbors way up north.

  2. K (who else!!??) says:

    So here we go — that tart recipe so well discussed above follows below.

    Apple Cream Cheese Tart – courtesy of Joan and Steve at the Centennial House B&B in Northfield, Massachusetts*, a wonderful place to stay north of Northampton, in the 5 Sisters Colleges area.

    1) Make crust first:
    Cream together 6 oz butter
    3 oz sugar
    Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    9 oz all purpose flour

    2) Press crust into a 9 1/2 inch tart pan.

    3) Make filling and pour into tart crust:
    Combine 4 oz cream cheese
    2 oz sugar
    1 large egg
    2 finely chopped apples

    4) Slice 3-4 apples thinly (1/16 inch if possible) and dredge into the following mixture, withholding about 1/2 cup for the top:
    2 oz sugar
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    3 oz finely ground almonds

    5) Neatly arrange sliced and dredged apples on to filling in the tart pan.

    6) Sprinkle withheld topping mixture over apple slices.

    7) Bake 450 degrees for 10 minutes; reduce temperature to 400 degrees and bake 25 minutes longer, or until top apples are golden and they begin to juice slightly.

    8) Let cool completely before removing tart ring to serve. Makes 8 slices.

    * K.’s tweaks include substituting ground cloves for the nutmeg; adding 1/4 tsp. almond extract to crust; using 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 white sugar rather than using all white sugar. Just remember, too, that you can hardly go wrong with this recipe… if it can be made successfully in the Red Green Cottage with next to no modern tools and without even a food scale, it can be made successfully anywhere. All you have to do is trust your ability to judge weight by hand.