Tuesdays must be lucky because I have an incredible Fall dessert to share with you today. Imagine a light and creamy maple-ricotta mousse tucked inside a rich, buttery grain-free shortbread crust. Can you taste it? Okay. Now add some fresh apple slices and a couple honey hazelnuts to the mix. All good? Great. So just focus on the crust for a second – can you taste the freshly ground pumpkin seeds in there? They’ll be the rich, nutty savory hint that pops through. Now don’t forget to let that note intermingle with the fresh, brightness of the apple slices and the creamy ricotta mousse…
Having trouble holding all those flavors together in your mind? No worries. Let me take you through how to make this beauty so you can taste it for real. But first, a quick note about what inspired this dessert: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
For me, Rosh Hashanah signals the beginning of Fall, the beginning of apple season, the beginning of the long, bountiful “time-to-eat-all-the-time-especially-sweets” season that continues with Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until after Valentine’s Day. I’ll be going home to Massachusetts soon for my family’s annual Rosh Hashanah walk on the Mount Holyoke Range and apple picking in Ashfield. We’ll each take some time to think about the year that’s passed and the one to come, and then we’ll have a delicious meal and dip apples in honey to symbolize our hope that it’s a sweet one.
Hence this apple tart. It screams Fall – apples, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts – short of sprinkling on some colorful leaves, I’m not sure how it could honor the season more. And of course, the Rosh Hashanah elements of apples and honey are represented. But what’s more, while there’s an elegance about it, there is also a homey, comforting quality that seemed appropriate for the holiday.
After all, what do most of us want when entering a new year? Sure, there are always things to change: new beginnings remind us to be creative, daring, unafraid to take risks. That’s your pumpkin seed crust right there. But there is also something to be said for holding on to some familiarity –– to comfort, to home. We tend to feel better about starting anew when we have some sense of security and grounding: for this, Fall, baking, and apple slices seemed like a good place to start.
A couple notes about the recipe:
– Almond flour varies greatly across brands. I use Honeyville almond flour in all my recipes, because I can order it fairly cheaply in bulk. (I definitely recommend this way of purchasing almond flour because one bag of Bob’s Red Mill’s is usually over twelve bucks!) Please feel free to try this with other brands of almond flour, but keep in mind that you may need to make some adjustments.
-For the apple slices, I recommend choosing apples that are fresh and slightly tart – not too sweet or mild. You’ll definitely want to toss them with lemon juice to prevent them from browning: don’t be afraid of the lemony flavor – it adds a freshness and brightness to the tart that compliments the nutty and creamy elements perfectly.
-Looking for a dairy-free Rosh Hashanah dessert? Try my apples and honey cake!
Apple-Ricotta Tart with Pumpkin Seed Crust
- 1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour
- ⅔ cups raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- 1 teaspoon flax meal
- Scant ¼ cup organic cane sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons frozen butter, cut into 8 or so chunks
- 1 large egg
- 1 packed cup + 2 rounded tablespoons whole-milk ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup full-fat sour cream
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sliced apples, tossed with fresh lemon juice, for topping the tart and serving
- Raw hazelnuts, mixed with a bit of honey and a pinch of salt, for garnish
Make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously grease a tart pan that is 1-inch deep and 10 inches from rim to rim.
Place almond flour, pumpkin seeds, arrowroot, flax, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Pulse several times to finely grind the seeds and combine the dry ingredients. Scatter the butter over the top, and pulse a few more times until butter is incorporated. (Mixture will still look like sand.) Add the egg and run on low speed until dough comes together in a ball on one side of the food processor.
Press the dough evenly into the tart pan. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and weight with pie weights or dried beans/rice. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment paper and weights and bake for about 12 minutes more. The edges will be brown and the bottom will be firm. Remove from oven and let stand until completely cool.
Make the filling:
While the crust is cooling, mix together the ricotta, sour cream, maple syrup, and vanilla.
Assemble the tart:
When the crust is completely cool, turn the maple-ricotta mousse into the tart shell, smoothing the top. Arrange the apple slices on top of the tart, and garnish with a few honey hazelnuts. Serve with extra apple slices, if desired.
Note: If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate the tart without the apple. Prepare and arrange the apple slices just before serving.