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BackstoryAll you need is a little bit of forethought to make this dessert. It's incredibly simple, but you do need to prep it a day or two in advance. It's well worth it, though - the wine adds a shockingly red color and a nice, complex flavor. It's a grown-up dessert that's still comforting, and it goes well at a fancy dinner party or a weeknight dinner. The basic idea here came from David Lebovitz.
- 8 firm apples, (Sierra Beauty or Granny Smith work well)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 bottle fruity red wine (Zinfandel or Merlot, for example)
- 1 9-oz disc of galette, tart, or pie dough
- Peel and core the apples. Cut them into 3/4"-thick slices, put them in a bowl, and toss them with sugar. Pour the red wine over them, cover, and refrigerate 24 to 48 hours. Mix them several times during the soaking period so that all the apples get saturated with the red wine.
- To bake the tart, position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
- Drain off the red wine from the apples into a 10" ovenproof skillet or saute pan. Reduce the liquid over medium-high heat until thickened and only about 1/3 cup remains. Remove from the heat and reserve 3 tbsp of the syrup for later use. Add the apples to the pan.
- Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14" disk. Drape the dough over the apples in the pan, and tuck the edges down between the skillet and the apples.
- Bake the tart for 1 hour, or until the dough has browned and the apples are tender when poked with a paring knife. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least ten minutes. Tilt the pan into the reserved syrup to drain the excess liquid. Put syrup into a separate saute pan and reduce over medium-low heat until it has reached a glaze-like consistency.
- Invert a dish over the tart in the pan. Wearing oven mitts, hold the skillet and the serving dish together, and simultaneously flip over the pan and the dish. As you do this, tilt away from you to avoid getting splashed with any hot liquid that might leak out.
- Lift off the saute pan and allow the tart to cool briefly before serving. Brush with the reserved red wine syrup and serve with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.
- A few notes: First off, 8 apples seems like a lot, but it's not. They cook down, and any less will leave you with a pretty skimpy tart.
- The wine you choose is important. A cabernet sauvignon is too heavy and tannic and will probably make this dessert kind of sour. Merlots or Zinfandels are good choices because they’re lighter, with many more fruity, spicy flavors, and they complement the apples. Also, if you wouldn’t drink the wine, don’t cook with the wine. Best thing to do is to get two bottles of a wine you like (it doesn’t have to be expensive), use one to make the tart and the other to serve with the tart.
- Also, if you’ve had the wine before and you know what it tastes like, you might experiment with additional flavors. Toss in a cinnamon stick and some cloves, maybe some lemon peel or a vanilla pod. A mulled wine might make a nice complex alternative. But remember – it’s a simple dessert, so don’t go nuts.
- If you have more red-wine syrup left over than you need to glaze the tart, save it – it goes great over some vanilla ice cream or a pound cake. While I always suggest making pie dough by hand (you should always have some in your freezer ready to go), if it’s too daunting, you can always buy some frozen dough at the market.