There is something magically transporting about this particular combination of flavors. Wow is the only word I can think of to describe it. The buttery richness of flaky pastry, sweet tartness of apple, mellow bite of onion, deep savoriness of cheddar, and intense sharpness of blue cheese create a wondrous effect on the palate.
This was my first opportunity to try the custard proportions espoused by Jerome Audureau and Frank Mentesana of Once Upon a Tart, SoHo, New York bakery fame. I am a fan of their beautiful book and have long wondered about the proportion of 1 egg to 2 tablespoons cream for their quiche, in lieu of the more standard 1 egg to ½ cup cream that is my standard. I am a custard lover and admit to wanting more, rather than less, custard in my quiche.
Nevertheless, less custard puts the focus on the filling, and that can be a very good thing, as this tart demonstrates.
Caramelized Apple, Onion, Cheddar & Blue Cheese Tart
This wonderful fall tart is more about the filling than the custard binder. Not quite a quiche, it packs a multi-layered flavor wallop that is sure to please. Perfect for a special brunch, with perhaps a lightly dressed green salad alongside.
one 9- to 10-inch or four 5-inch shallow pastry shells, partially prebaked (use Quick & Easy, Flakey, All Butter, Short-Crust Pastry or your favorite pastry)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 large eggs
¼ cup cream (or half-and-half)
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 clove peeled, minced or pressed garlic
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh sage
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Cheeses for Layering
1 loosely packed cup grated, aged cheddar
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese
- To prepare the pastry, make one 9-inch pastry shell in a shallow, removable bottom tart pan, prebake, and allow to cool on a wire rack. (Or prepare four, 5-inch pastry shells in the same manner.)
- To prepare the onions, in a large sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter and slowly cook the onions until translucent and beginning to caramelize. Remove from the heat and reserve.
- To prepare the apples, in a large sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter per batch and add apple slices to cover the bottom of the pan without overlapping. You will likely need to sauté the apples in two batches.
Quickly brown both sides of the slices and then remove to a plate. The apples should not be fully tender at this point.
- To prepare the custard, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs to smooth them and then whisk in the cream. Mash the blue cheese with the back of a fork, and add it to the custard, along with garlic, mustard, rosemary, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.
- To prepare the tarts, sprinkle a little cheddar cheese over the bottom of the pastry shell (melting it quickly under a broiler if you like, to help ensure a crisp bottom crust), and then evenly distribute the onion mixture over the top.
- Sprinkle all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining cheddar over the onions and top with the Parmesan.
- Arrange the caramelized apples in a spoke-like fashion over the cheeses.
- Pour the custard over the apples, taking care not to overfill the pastry shell. Leave ¼- to ½-inch top edge clearance. (If there is custard remaining, fill a buttered ramekin or two and bake in a bain-marie later.)
- Sprinkle the top of the quiche with the remaining 2 tablespoons cheddar and 1 tablespoon blue cheese crumbles.
- Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes for a 9-inch tart or about 20 minutes for 5-inch tarts.
- Remove the tart from the oven and cool the slightly on a wire rack, allowing at least 10 minutes of set-up time before cutting. (Actually, this tart taste best when cooled just a bit and is excellent even at room temperature.)
- Remove the rim of the tart pan and cut into eight wedges to serve. (Or serve individual tarts.) Because of the delicacy of the pastry, I find it better to cut through the top edge with a serrated bread knife, changing to a flat-bladed knife to finish the bottom of each slice. This way the pastry does not break or shatter.
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Copyright 2012 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.