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Apple Custard Tart Recipe & Video

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Apple Custard Tart Recipe

Over the years I have added quite a few apple recipes to the site, especially pies and tarts. This Apple Custard Tart is my newest addition. It is a beautiful tart, and it has a wonderfully complex flavor. There are several layers to this tart, starting with a buttery crisp Shortbread Crust. The crust is prebaked and once baked, to keep it nice and crisp and to add flavor, it is brushed with a thin layer of apricot preserves. Next is a layer of lightly sweetened slices of sautéed apples covered with a rich and creamy custard. The finishing touch is a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. The tart is baked until the custard has set. I do like to place the finished tart under the broiler until the tips of the apple slices have become nicely browned


This Apple Custard Tart is one of the more labor intensive apple recipes on the site as it has quite a few components. The first layer is a shortbread crust. While most of us think of shortbread as a cookie, it also makes a great crust that is very easy to put together in your food processor. It is pre baked and to keep the crust wonderfully crisp, the baked and cooled crust is brushed with a delicious apricot glaze.

Next is the apples. You can use any firm textured apple that will not lose its' shape when baked. Some good choices are Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Braeburn, but during the Fall try to use locally grown apples as they have superior flavor and texture, and there is the added bonus of supporting your local farmers.

The apples are covered with a rich and creamy custard filling. When you make this custard, the flour, sugar, and eggs are simply whisked together in a bowl. The cream (you can use either half-and-half or a light cream) is heated just until boiling, and then it is whisked into the flour mixture until incorporated. The final step is to whisk in the vanilla extract and brandy, if using.

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Apple Custard Tart: You will need an 8 or 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. 

Shortbread Crust: In your food processor, place the flour, sugar, and salt and process to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the pastry starts to come together and form clumps (not a solid ball of dough). (See video for demonstration.) Place the pastry in the tart pan and, using your fingertips, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. Cover and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill. (This will prevent the pastry from puffing up and shrinking while it bakes.)

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. 

Once chilled, place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet, and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 13 - 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Then spread a thin layer of warm apricot glaze over the bottom and sides of the shortbread to seal the crust and prevent it from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry (about 15 - 20 minutes.)

Apricot Glaze: In a small saucepan heat the apricot preserves until boiling. Remove from heat and strain to get rid of lumps. Add the Cognac or water.  

Custard: In a large bowl whisk the flour and sugar together.  Add the eggs and stir, with a wooden spoon, to make a smooth paste.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream until it just starts to boil. Remove from heat and, whisking constantly, gradually whisk into the egg mixture. Whisk in the vanilla extract and Apple Brandy, if using. Set this mixture aside while you prepare the apples.

Apples: Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick slices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and stir in the granulated white sugar. Add the apples and sauté until they begin to soften, approximately 5 - 10 minutes. Set the cooked apples aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Assemble Tart: Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles on top of the cooled and glazed tart shell. Carefully pour the custard over the apples to just below the top of the tart pan (do not fill all the way or the custard will drip between the crust and the pan). Sprinkle lightly with the Cinnamon Sugar.

Cinnamon Sugar: In a small bowl combine the sugar and ground cinnamon.

Place tart pan on a larger baking sheet to make it easier to remove from oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the custard has set.

Let the tart cool a few minutes and then place the tart under the oven broiler just long enough to caramelize the tips of the apple slices (can also use a hand held butane kitchen torch). Let cool and then serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Makes 1 - 8 or 9 inch (20 or 23 cm) tart.

Shortbread Crust:

1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Apricot Glaze:

1/4 cup (70 grams) apricot preserves

1/2 tablespoon Cognac, Calvados, Rum or Water


1/4 cup (35 grams) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs (100 grams), at room temperature

2/3 cup (160 ml/grams) half-and-half cream or light cream

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract or paste

1 tablespoon Apple Brandy (Calvados or Applejack) (optional)


1 1/2 pounds (675 grams) Apples (about 3 large apples) (can use any firm textured apple - Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, etc.)

2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar

2 tablespoon (25 grams) unsalted butter

Cinnamon Sugar:

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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