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The best moments during the holiday season aren’t the picture-perfect ones, but those that are so much less than ideal. We’ll remember them for the laughter, the craziness – the imperfections.

My favourite holiday memory is one that embraces this notion. It was the day that my family’s place on the Griswold Family Tree was established…

One chilly December day, many years ago, my parents decided it was time to be adventurous and cut down our own Christmas tree. We went out late in the day, picked a giant tree, and my dad used a uselessly dull hack saw to cut it down.

The sun was setting quickly, and on our way back to our vehicle my mom fell into a dug out fire pit full of soot and slush. She had to walk the rest of the way with no pants on in the freezing cold and two foot deep snow drifts. While she tried to warm her frozen bare legs in the van, we strapped the tree to the top of our oh, so stylish minivan, which was half the size of the tree, and got ready to go. Just as we were about to head back to civilization, a herd of horses blocked the van and smothered it with their wet muzzles and overt curiosity.

Back at home, my dad discovered that our fourteen foot ceilings just wouldn’t suffice. Naturally, he proceeded to cut the top of the tree off, and that’s what we stuck in the corner of our living room. That tree took up about half of the entire room, and covered everything within its reach with sticky globs of sap. We had a heck of a time getting a star on top, and the tree did fall down on us a few times, but there was an awful lot of laughter that day.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Not letting the stress of the holidays get to you, relaxing with your family, and finding the beauty in the imperfections.

This Maple Apple Tart stemmed from that idea. Rather than worrying about a pie with a perfectly flaky crust, I created a dessert that exposed the apples. It’s a delectable dish with nothing to hide, and much to be appreciated.

Maple Apple Tart

¼ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons cold milk
3 tablespoons cold water

6 Granny Smith Apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided

1. Place cornmeal, salt, flour, and sugar in a food processor fit with a blade attachment. Pulse a few times to combine.

2. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and water, and process on low just until a ball of dough is formed. Remove dough from processor, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Place the disc of dough on a sheet of parchment that is about 15 inches (38cm) long. Cover dough with another piece of parchment the same size, and roll dough into a 14 inch (35.5cm) circle. Peel off the top piece of parchment and turn the dough out into a 10 or 11 inch (25-28cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the pan, leaving excess hanging over, and remove the other sheet of parchment. Press down along the edge of the pan with your finger to remove excess dough. Place in the refrigerator while preparing filling.

4. Peel the apples, and then halve lengthwise and thinly slice each half horizontally; transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

5. In a small bowl, whisk sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Pour over the apple slices and gently toss with your hands to coat. Arrange apples as desired in refrigerated tart shell and chill for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius).

6. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, and then place a piece of foil over top and cook for another 30 minutes. While still hot, lightly brush the apples with the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup. Let rest on a wire rack for 30 minutes, remove from pan, and cool to room temperature before serving.

Check out more recipes at Stephanie’s blog

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  1. Seasonal Flavours & a Maple Apple Tart - Global Dish says:

    [...] {Have you checked out Eat In, Eat Out yet? It’s a new online magazine, and this recipe has been featured on the magazine’s site! See it, along with one of my favourite holiday stories here.} [...]


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