Apple Hazelnut Tart
Thanksgiving desserts can be many peoples’ undoing, but they need not be. I long ago banished Pecan Pie from the Thanksgiving rotation in favor of less cloying pies like Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Apple– who needs a single slice of pie that runs from 500-800 calories per slice after all those marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, anyway? Topping off a holiday meal with a sliver of apple or pumpkin pie, I think to myself, “Pecan who?”
Of course, gluten-free pie crusts are a challenge. True, there are plenty of frozen options and various mixes, but in my opinion, they either taste lousy or have weird enough textures that I find myself eating the filling out of the pie and leaving the crust behind, anyway. Determined to develop a Thanksgiving pie that I could enjoy in its entirety, however, I started experimenting early this year. And here’s what I came up with:
Recipe: Apple Hazelnut Tart (Gluten-free)
My pie solution is not a pie at all, but in fact, a tart. In the most literal sense of the word, this “tart” is just kissed with sweetness rather than hitting you over the head with tooth-aching-sweetness. (Guess I’m still feeling stung by my close call with gestational diabetes; this is a dessert option for those of us keeping a watchful eye on our blood sugar levels even on the annual day of national indulgence.) Between the hazelnut meal crust in lieu of a flour-based one and the modest amount of added sugar to the filling, this tart is a lower-carbohydrate version of a traditional apple pie, and the majority of the fat is the heart-healthy variety that derives from the hazelnuts (See below for the full nutritional profile).
Because the crust is wetter than a traditional pie crust, it works much better as a tart so you can press the dough right into the tart pan with your fingers rather than bother trying to roll it out and transfer it intact. (If you’ve ever wrestled with a sticky, gluten-free pie crust dough from a mix, this should come as quite a relief.)
Flavorwise, the combination of hazelnut and apple is harmonious, sophisticated and something different than the typical Apple pie; The apple flavor is front-and-center, concentrated and intense–not obscured by sugary-sweetness or cinnamon as we’ve come to expect. It was inspired by a glutenous, buttery, 500-calorie-per-slice Apple Torte recipe published in Bon Appetit’s October 2010 issue; I borrowed the filling recipe from this source but swapped out the sugar for a smaller amount of Agave nectar to cut down on the calories (40% fewer per serving) and carbs (50% fewer) even further without impacting the sweetness.
Flourless Hazelnut Tart Crust (adapted from Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1.5 cup Hazelnut Meal
- 6 TBSP powdered sugar
- 3 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature (substitute margarine to make dairy-free)
- 1 1/2 TBSP cream (substitute coconut milk or soy creamer to make dairy-free)
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until dough clumps together. Refrigerate mixture for at least 15 minutes (colder dough may be easier to work with). Using hands, press dough into bottom and sides of a non-stick, ungreased 9″ tart pan (batter has enough natural nut oils and butter to prevent sticking). Pre-bake in a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes (until crust is drier but not yet turning golden); remove from oven and set aside until ready to fill.
Apple Filling (adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2010)
- 2 lbs Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ wedges (if you slice them too thin, they will turn to mush when cooking)
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 3/4 cup apple cider (can substitute dry white wine, but final product will be less sweet and less apple-y)
Arrange apples evenly in a heavy, large skillet. Drizzle with agave nectar, then pour apple cider over. Cover and cook on medium heat, until apples are tender, gently turning over occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Uncover and cook until juices evaporate, carefully turning apples over a few times to keep wedges intact. Remove from heat. Let apples cool completely in pan. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Fill pre-baked crust with apple filling.
- Bake tart until crust is dry and starting to separate from edges of tart pan, about 25-30 minutes.
- Cool in pan.
- Carefully coax the tart out of the pan by remove sides of tart pan; serve.
Approximate nutritional info per serving (assumes 8 servings): 285 calories, 31g carbohydrate of which 3g is fiber (equivalent of two diabetic exchanges), 18g fat, 3g protein.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.