This past weekend I went with my husband and his family to the Vergers Denis Charbonneau. In Quebec this tradition is called “aller aux pommes” or going to the apples. This particular orchard and cider mill is located in breathtakingly beautiful Mont-Saint-Grégoire, QC. This mountainous area is lush with fall foliage framing rustic wooden barns and country homes with stone facades.
At the orchard’s restaurant we dined on the traditional assiette du fermier (farmer’s plate) of omelet, beans, ham, bacon, sausage, potato hash, tourtière (minced pork pie), toast and cretons (pork pâté), tomato relish, maple butter, apple and pear slices and sparkling cider on tap. After eating what we could of this gigantic brunch, we scouted through the trees for prime apples and filled our sacks to the brim.
Upon returning home I had to figure out what to do with a huge bag of Cortland apples. Last year after making one apple crumble, I ended up juicing most of my apples from the orchard. Thankfully this week I am on a baking bender. This lightly sweetened rustic dessert is a great start.
This recipe is adapted from one given by the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec featured on the Metro website. The inspired addition of rosemary to the crust was suggested in an issue of Chatelaine, a Canadian magazine. My most notable change is that light agave nectar is used in place of sugar. Don’t peel the apples – the peels add gorgeous color to the tart and they are good for you.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup aged white cheddar, shredded
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/2 cup milk
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 Cortland apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup light agave nectar + 2 tablespoons for glaze
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a food processor, using the metal blade, pulse to combine the flour, salt and butter. Pulse in the cheddar and rosemary. Adding 1/4 cup at a time, pulse in the milk. Scrape down the sides of the processor and continue pulsing until the mixture forms a ball of dough and the rosemary is finely chopped. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425º. Core and thinly slice apples, leaving the peels intact. In a large bowl combine 1/4 cup agave nectar, lemon zest, flour and cinnamon. Coat apple slices with this mixture.
Roll out the dough into a large circle as if you are making a pizza crust. Place the rolled dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fill the center of the dough with the apple mixture. Fold the edges of the dough around the apple mixture leaving a large circle in the middle.
Bake tart for 20 minutes on the lower rack. Reduce temperature to 350º and cook an additional 30 minutes.
Brush the 2 tablespoons of agave nectar over the top of the tart. Serve with whatever you like - mascarpone, cream or a drizzle of yogurt.
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