Apple Tart – vegan & gluten free

Valentine’s Day always shouts raspberries, and I’m really curious why. Maybe, in combination with their color, it’s because fresh raspberries in February are such a luxury, such an indulgence, that their cost proves the intensity of your love. (It makes me think of oranges at Christmas in the Little House series. Anyone else?)

To be fair, I am all for raspberries (and love). BUT, and there’s always a but, I am not willing to pay, or have someone I love, pay $6 or $7 for a 6 oz clam shell. Nuh-huh, no way, not on my watch.

For the locavores amongst us, unless they live in the tropics, raspberries are not even an option. So I’m starting a campaign: Apples for Valentine’s. You can use red ones if it makes you feel more festive, but, really, apples are a much more reasonable choice today.

This was my first tart, and I was pretty pleased with the result. Luckily, my cousin and his family thought so too. I always get nervous taking something untried to gatherings, but I hoped that since it looked good and smelled good, it would also taste good (it did).

I hope that you try this, and, more importantly, I hope that you have someone you can shower some affection on today. Because it really is good to give.

Apple Tart – vegan & gluten free

Graham Cracker Crust – vegan & gluten free
2 Tbsp sugar
6 oz broken graham crackers (1 of the the 3 packages inside a box)*
OR
6 oz gluten free broken gingersnaps**
4 Tbsp vegan butter, melted, plus more as necessary

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sugar and graham crackers/cookies. Pulse until the crackers are crumbs, and slowly add the butter, stirring or pulsing, until well blended. If the crumbs are not all moistened, add a bit more butter. Distribute the mix fairly evenly in the bottom of a 9-inch (ish. there seem to be a lot of sizes out there! this is a pretty flexible crust recipe) pie or tart pan. Press the mix down along the bottom and sides.

If the pie or tart recipe you are using (this one!) calls for prebaking, heat your oven to 350F. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes- just until it starts to brown. Cool on a rack before filling; the crust will harden as it cools.

*I use cinnamon graham crackers because they make the crust that much more awesome
**I have found these at Whole Foods and maybe one or two other local and/or hippie grocery stores. I could not find anything suitable at my neighborhood Safeway, but maybe you are lucky enough to do so. Depending on the sweetness of the cookie, you may be able to reduce the amount of sugar you mix in. I think some sort of almond cookie would also be delicious here

Apple Tart – vegan & gluten free
2-3 lbs tart apples*
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 Tbsp vegan butter, plus more if necessary

Prebake your crust (see above), and start on your apples while it’s in the oven. When the crust is done, set it aside to cool, and turn the oven up to 375F.

Peel and core the apples, and then cut them into thin – like 1/8-inch thick – slices. Here is a great time to use that mandoline your mom got your for Christmas (just watch your fingers!). Toss them well with the lemon juice so they don’t turn brown. Arrange the apples in concentric circles in the tart shell, with the circles overlapping. I found it was easier to start from the outside, but you may have better luck starting from the inside.** Sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon, and then dot with butter (more or less than the listed amount above will work just fine).

Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake about 40 minutes. Apples will be quite soft, but they will still look like apple slices. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes. Serve alone, with ice cream, or some fresh berries.

*I used Granny Smith. McIntosh would also work. In addition, please note that while my uncooked photos look like I used a lot of apples, the baked tart looks almost naked. Silly me didn’t think about the apples shrinking during baking. Pack in your apples!
**Perhaps it’s a right v. left-handed thing? or clockwise or counter-clockwise? I’m not sure. I also think you may want to do a whole flat bottom layer of apples and then start your circles on top of that.