America’s love of apples is a deeply-rooted passion, with recipes from mothers, aunts, and grandmothers long held dear. My mother used bright green Granny Smith apples to make her apple cheese tart, tucking apple slices into a sweet cream cheese filling and sprinkling almond slices on top. My version of the family recipe injects the essence of almond in the filling and in the tasty tart crust and lets the beautiful spiral of apples take center stage. This recipe makes two, 9.5- inch tarts.
For the apple topping:
• 6 small Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
For the tart crust:
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup pure cane sugar; or, light-brown sugar (packed)
• 2/3 cups almond meal
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 sticks (1 cup) extra-chilled salted butter, cut into cubes
• 2 egg yolks (save the whites for the filling)
• 4 tablespoons cream, or whole milk (as needed)
For the cream cheese filling:
• 1, 8-ounce package cream cheese
• 4 eggs (plus egg whites reserved from the crust)
• 2/3 cups pure cane sugar
• 2 teaspoons almond extract
• A pinch of salt
Toss sliced apples with sugar in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
Sift all-purpose flour and sugar into a large shallow bowl. Stir in almond meal and salt. Cut in chilled butter until pea-sized crumbles form. Using your fingertips, lightly break up the bits until the mixture resembles wet sand. Stir in egg yolks and add cream until the mixture gathers up. Spread two overlapping sheets of plastic wrap onto counter; scoop dough onto plastic. Gather into a ball. Cut in half. Flatten each piece of dough into a disk. Wrap each in plastic and chill in the refrigerator.
Using an immersion blender, stand blender, or food processor, combine all filling ingredients.
Place oven rack in center of oven. Preheat to 350 F. Roll out each tart crust; press crusts into two tart pans, trimming and saving any excess. Divide filling between the two crusts. Remove sugared apples from the refrigerator. Starting at the center of the tart, spiral the apples moving in a circular pattern until half of the apple slices have been used and the surface of the tart is covered with a beautiful spiral of apple slices. Repeat with the second tart. Place tarts on rack in oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. Serve at room temperature, or, chilled.