You Get to Fry a Vanilla Bean Pod and Throw It Away: Brown Butter Apple Tart

Bon Appétit sends a steady stream of recipes to my facebook feed, and I end up adding a lot of them to my to-bake list. One that showed up recently is a Brown Butter Apple Tart. I was immediately sold on this pretty tart topped with apple rings.

The crust recipe provided yields two crusts. While the recipe suggests freezing one of the crusts for future use, I decided to just make two tarts at once. You make the crusts in a mixer by creaming together softened butter with sugar and salt; adding an egg, cream, and vanilla; and incorporating flour. I divided the dough into two parts, formed each half into a disk, wrapped them in plastic, and chilled them for 24 hours.

I was afraid that the crust was going to be fussy, because the recipe says that you have to roll the chilled dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, chill it again until it is firm until to handle, and then transfer it to a tart pan. But I rolled out the dough between two sheets of parchment and it was firm enough to immediately transfer to a tart pan without any problems. But I did chill the dough-lined tart pans for about an hour before blind-baking the crusts.

You arrange sliced apples in the partially baked crusts (I used Braeburn apples for one tart, and Rome Beauties for the other), and then pour over a mixture of eggs, sugar, browned butter (that was made with the scraped seeds of a vanilla bean and the pod; you remove the fried pod at the end), flour, and salt. Then the tarts are ready to bake.
My apples were fairly large, so it was tricky trying to fit them into the tart shells, and the filling didn't cover all of the apples. Still, the top layer of apples laid nicely on top of the filling and stayed put. The tarts unmolded easily and sliced cleanly.
The cross-section of a slice of this tart reminded me of the cross-section of the savory potato tart I recently made -- it was full of neat stacks of apple layers. The brown butter-egg filling turned into a firm custard holding it all together. This tart really showcases apples, and the filling adds richness without too much sweetness.

I often think that baked apples are missing something if they aren't combined with cinnamon, but this tart was delicious just as it was -- I served it plain, without any ice cream or whipped cream. If I make this tart again, the only thing I would change is to use smaller apples. They would be easier to arrange in the crust, and the finished tart would look less like it was filled with pineapple rings.

Recipe: "Brown Butter Apple Tart" from