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.