Because of my momma . . . Flourless Chocolate Cake

Because of my momma…

 Flourless Chocolate Cake from Arts and Tarts

I am the person I am today because of my momma.

Because of her, I see the world the way I do.

I write this blog and create the content because my mom allowed me in the kitchen. She taught me to share. She encouraged me to be me.

I am shy, just like my momma.

I have ten fingers and ten toes, a mind and a soul, because my momma carried me.

I have a curved spine, from my momma’s genes.

 Flourless Chocolate Cake from Arts and Tarts

I trust, and I care, and I love, because my momma has done so for me.

Because of my momma, I talk in silly voices to my dog.

I stand on two feet and walk forward everyday, because my mom inspires me so.

I have hot coffee in a mug between my intertwined fingers every morning, because my momma spoils me.

 Flourless Chocolate Cake from Arts and Tarts

I see lovely flowers all around, because my mom gardens so beautifully.

She shows me how to care by caring so passionately and selflessly for everyone around her.

Because of my mom, I am completely and utterly blessed.

 Flourless Chocolate Cake from Arts and Tarts

I made this cake because of my mommy.

I love her, because she is my perfect and beautiful momma.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

 Flourless Chocolate Cake from Arts and Tarts

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze and Berry Coulis

Cake:

½ cup water

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup granulated sugar

18 (1 oz) squares bittersweet bakers chocolate

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

6 large eggs

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease one 10 inch round spring form pan (or any similar sized pan, I used a heart shaped insert for my springform pan. Baking times may vary though).

In a small saucepan, combine water, salt, and sugar (and optional espresso powder); Stir over medium heat until completely dissolved. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once melted, pour into the bowl of an electric mixer.

Cut the butter into pieces and slowly add to the chocolate, beating on medium speed. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in eggs, one at a time, until all ingredients are completely combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 300 degrees F for 45-55 minutes. The center will still be slightly jiggly. (Make sure internal temp is 140 degrees F). Chill for several hours, or overnight, to allow cake to cool completely before removing from pan. To remove, gently cut around edges and remove springform ring.

Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or 6 (1 oz) squares semisweet bakers chocolate

¼ cup butter

3 Tablespoons Berry Coulis (Optional)

Combine chocolate and butter and melt over double boiler. Stir in Berry Coulis once melted. Allow to cool for ten to fifteen minutes, then pour over chilled cake.

Berry Coulis:

2 cups frozen or fresh berries (any variety)

2 Tablespoons Sugar

Juice of half a lemon

Combine all in a small saucepan and cook until berries are soft and have released their juices. Remove from heat and mash the berries well, or process in a food processor. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and discard solids. Mix in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Use to add to Chocolate Glaze and/or serve drizzled over cake.

 Flourless Chocolate Cake from Arts and Tarts

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A Side of Blueberry Pie : Blueberry Hand Pies

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My dear friend Candace.

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I haven’t dedicated a blog post to you yet, because well, I just cant quite get the words right. I want this post to be perfect – a good story along with a beautiful and delicious pictures and recipe. And to be frank, I just can’t figure it out. Because no matter how long I think about it, I just cant compare you to a food. Weird, right? Or, is it just weird that I’m trying to find a comparison between you and a pastry or cookie or something. That, my friend, could be my problem.

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You see, the criteria were set too high this time. I needed to find something that was beautiful, but not just in appearance. The flavor had to be beautiful as well, to fit your character and personality. Something that was sophisticated and classy, but also silly and fun. Something strong. Something personal and emotional. Something that doesn’t need to be paired with a cup of coffee, but could be complimented with one. Ya know what I mean?

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And well, I just couldn’t come up with anything, so I decided to write about you to you, and that it was about time I do. So this, my friend, is your letter, with a side of blueberry pie.

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Candace, you’re not just an ordinary friend to me. You changed my life. And I don’t mean to sound all gooey, gushy sweet like an under baked cookie on you, because that can seem totes fake (and  actually make you sick). However, I’m not making this stuff up. When we became friends in sophomore year weight training, the most unlikely of places, I never expected that just a few years later I would be a bridesmaid in your wedding and your child’s godmother.You are the best and closest friend I have ever had, and I know that even though 928 miles separate us, you’re closer to me than ever. I can’t wait until those roles of bridesmaid and godmother are reversed.

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Blueberry Hand Pies

Flaky Butter Pie Crust:

1 cup very cold, unsalted butter

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3-5 Tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Cut butter in small cubes and scatter over the flour mixture, coating them with flour. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, turning the bowl and cutting again repetitively until the mixture resembles floury crumbs. Slowly add the 3 Tablespoons of the ice water and mix just until dough holds together. If necessary, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time,  until the dough comes together. It will still be a bit crumbly.

Divide dough in two parts, press both together until it forms a ball, then form into round disks, about 1 inch thick. Wrap completely in plastic wrap and chill at least two hours.

When almost ready to assemble, make filling.

Blueberry Filling:

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Pinch of nutmeg (optional)

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and gently mix, carful not to crush the blueberries. Use right away.

Assembly:

Pie crust dough

Blueberry Filling

Extra flour for dusting

1 egg, lightly beaten

Optional sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Unwrap chilled pie dough and place on floured work surface; flour top of dough lightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out until about 1/8 to 1/6 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel, or biscuit or cookie cutter, cut the dough into desired shapes, creating as many cutouts as possible. I used a biscuit cutter to create a top and bottom crust (Some other options are squares, hearts, or a circle and folding in half to create the top and bottom crust resulting in a semicircle). Gather dough scraps, reform into a ball, and repeat the process until all the dough is cut into the desired shapes.

To make pies with  a separate top and bottom piece, add 1 teaspoon to 3 Tablespoons of filling (depending on size) to half of your pie crust cutouts (so, just the bottom pieces). Make sure to leave a ¼ inch border of crust uncovered by filling. Moisten the outer ¼ inch edge of the top and bottom crust with beaten egg, and place the top on the bottom, so the egg edges are together (the egg acts sort of like a glue). Press together to form a seal, and use a fork to crimp the edges.

Arrange pies on baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart. Brush with remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake pies until the crust is golden, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size of pies. Remove and cool on baking rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Slightly adapted from Handheld Pies

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Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Cinnamon Rolls

I vividly remember the mornings of my childhood that began with cinnamon rolls. These mornings were always the best – my mom would quietly poke her head in my room and whisper, “Bea, time to get up” or sometimes in her silly mom voice, “wakey, wakey!” Immediately upon waking, I could smell them. The aroma of sweet rolls seemed to overtake the entire house, inviting us to leave the warmth of our beds to fill our tummies.

My sisters and I would race downstairs with the hopes that no one had squeezed the packet of icing onto the just baked rolls, as we wanted to do it. When we did get our wish, we always made sure that while doing so we claimed a certain roll to be ours. (And of course, after claiming it, we always made sure to put just a bit extra icing on, for all of our hard work.)

Cinnamon roll mornings were special. Often it signified the first day of school or a birthday, but occasionally, I think our parents just wanted to spoil us.

These mornings always seemed to be during the school year, and they managed to brighten up the rest of the day. Not only did they taste wonderfully and make my belly full and warm, but I also had something to tell on the playground.  It was an opportunity for one of those little kid bragging moments for me – I got to proclaim that I ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast while hearing all the other students get excited for me, exclaiming their appreciation with a  “lucky duck!” or “your parents must be awesome!” I cherished that attention. It wasn’t necessarily to make the others jealous, but to share in my excitement. Now that I think back on it, it really was quite a trivial thing to be so excited over, but I really loved those special mornings with the cinnamon rolls.

I love giving cinnamon rolls to people, and I think it’s partly due to these fond memories of cinnamon roll mornings. But also, it’s the taste, the gooey center, the individual rolls baked together as one, the sugar and butter, and the process of making them that I love so much. A cinnamon roll is so simple, yet it’s also sophisticated. It’s been proofed, mixed, kneaded, raised, rolled out, sprinkled with toppings, rolled back up, cut, raised again, and baked.  But don’t let that intimidate you, because although they take some time to make homemade, the process is fun and messy, easy and oh so rewarding.

These cinnamon rolls are taken to the next level with the addition of dark chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. They taste a bit like nutella, but still have a touch of the classic cinnamon taste.

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

2 cups milk (I actually used almond milk)

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup sugar

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)

4 cups flour + ½ cup later

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoon salt

Filling:

4 Tablespoons melted butter (or more!)

1 cup dark chocolate, chopped

½ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

½ cup brown sugar, packed

Cinnamon (about 1 teaspoon)

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Set aside and cool until about 115 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, make sure it’s pretty warm, but not scalding. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk until frothy.

Add 4 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining ½ cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine.

To assemble the rolls, on a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.

To make the filling, brush the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar on, then cinnamon (I used about 1 full teaspoon), then the hazelnuts and chocolate. Add more or less of each filling ingredient, the proportions are all up to you!

Beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. Alternatively, used thread or dental floss to cut the slices. You should end up with around 20-25 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into round cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown.

While the rolls are baking, make an icing. I made a simple chocolate icing by whisking together 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons milk, and ½ teaspoon vanilla.

I think a drizzle of nutella would also make a lovely and simple topping.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Enjoy these all to yourself, or better yet, share a pan with some loved ones!

Beginnings – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies

Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed being in the kitchen. My mom is the one who got me started, always letting me help in the kitchen when she was cooking. I would carefully stir, cautiously pour in ingredients that were magically pre-measured, taste test everything, and grin from ear to ear when someone said he liked the food, because I had stirred, poured, tested.

Recently, I came across my first ever cookbook. It was filled with recipes that any child could master on her own – as simple as “Perfect S’mores” and as quirky as “Squirrel Sandwiches.” I remember flipping through those pages often, finding my favorite recipes, coloring the black and white pictures, and using the provided stickers to “rate each recipe.”

As I flipped through the pages, I came across a section in the book with blank recipe cards – and the first recipe I have ever written. I called my creation “Treat Pizza” and even though it was nothing more than bread with a few sweet toppings, I pretended it was the best tasting thing ever. I’m sure my parents pretended so too.

Eventually I began to use more complicated recipes to bake cookies, brownies, and sweets of those sorts, but I always seemed to stick to the recipes. I wasn’t as imaginative as the girl I was a few years back, and I just wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. And that meant following every ingredient and every step exactly as the recipe called.

It wasn’t until these cookies that I began to experiment a bit. I wanted to make oatmeal cookies, but at the time I despised the little shriveled up raisins most oatmeal cookies have tucked inside. I thought they looked and tasted like poo. However, there was no way I was making plain oatmeal cookies, as that was just not perfect either. So instead, I did what I had to do, I added chocolate. And then I couldn’t stop, I had to add extra spices too, then make them bigger than the wimpy teaspoon size the recipe called for.

These cookies were a turning point for me and my approach to food. It was no longer all about exactness, but about putting my own flair into what I make. It’s about being myself in the kitchen, not mimicking Betty Crocker. It’s about trial and error, with lots of love and sharing in between.

I like to call this recipe Dad Cookies, because my dad is always the one to remind me to make these every once in awhile. They make the whole house smell inviting while they’re baking and come out with a perfectly imperfect look to them, just like cookies should. These oatmeal cookies are soft and chewy but crisp on the edges, with melty chocolate and a kick of cinnamon and nutmeg. They will call out your name, and then there’s no turning back.

Dad Cookies (Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies)

 

¾ cup butter

1 cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1 ¾ cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 t ground coffee

½ tsp salt

2 cups oats

1 cup chocolate chips

 

Optional Topping –

1 tsp sugar

2 Tbsn brown sugar

2 tsp butter

½ tsp cinnamon

 

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars on high until light and fluffy. Mix in egg. In another small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, coffee grounds, and salt. Gradually add this to the butter mixture, beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.

To make topping, combine sugars, butter, and cinnamon, working until all is incorporated.

Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Add a bit of the sugar topping to the tops and optionally the bottoms as well. Gently flatten the cookies a bit, then bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Raechy – Earl Grey Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

We sat in the kitchen debating over cupcakes. It was a good sort a debate, one that ensured these cupcakes were going to be flawless because so much thought went into them. She would say this one, I would say that one, but eventually we came to an agreement. Together with our aprons on, we made a perfect cupcake.

Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Cupcakes, artsntarts.wordpress.com

My sister and I are Irish twins, that is, born in the same calendar year. Only eleven months separate the two of us. Well, that and our incredibly differing personalities. And then there’s the physical separation by the ocean. I guess we are rather separated after all, but sometimes I like to pretend that the mere eleven months is the only thing distancing us because that’s only a separation in age, not space.

Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Cupcakes, https://artsntarts.wordpress.com/

My sister did this thing that astonished us all. She joined the navy. We’re so proud of her, not only is she the beautiful, thoughtful, and bubbly sister I’ve always known, but also she’s strong. In this past year and sometime more, she has been such an example of strength and perseverance. I admire my sister.

I love that my sister is in the navy, yet I hate it. I think the navy brought us together, strengthening our relationship. It showed us how important our relationship is and how we’ve taken each other for granted before. But the navy has separated us so much also.  We live across the world from each other, one waking up while the other goes to sleep. We can’t see each other but twice a year.

Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Cupcakes, https://artsntarts.wordpress.com/

My sister is like another half to myself. While I’m quite shy, she’s a social butterfly. I’m timid, she’s bold. She’s always been my big sister, the one I look up to, and even through our differences, she has set quite an example for me.

Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Cupcakes, https://artsntarts.wordpress.com/

One thing my sister and I both agree squarely on is our love for baking. We have different baking styles, just as our styles in practically everything else vary a bit, but together I think we made something pretty spectacular.

We made Earl Grey Dark Chocolate Cupcakes. I think Raechel would like you to know that she first pinned the recipe to Pinterest, so she gets to claim it. (After all, we are sisters, there has to be some competitiveness!)

After tasting the frosting, we decided we wanted the earl grey tea flavor to shine through a wee bit more, so we brushed the tops of the cupcakes with a quick and easy simple syrup made by boiling tea and sugar. (And that was my ingenious idea, competitiveness I tell ya)

Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Cupcakes, https://artsntarts.wordpress.com/Earl Grey Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Desserts for Breakfast.

makes 12 – 14 cupcakes

Cake:

1 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup whole milk (we used almond milk)

1/2 cup hot coffee (dark roast for best results)

1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (optional)

Ganache Frosting:

6 teabags of Earl Grey

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup + 2 Tbspn heavy cream

5 oz unsweetened chocolate

8 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup sugar

extra tea, for brushing

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare 12 – 14 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the beaten egg, vegetable oil, and milk.

With the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until evenly distributed. Pour the hot coffee into the batter gradually and mix on medium low until smooth. Stir in bittersweet chocolate pieces. Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. When a toothpick inserted at the center of the cupcake comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from oven, remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Ganache:

Place the Earl Grey teabags, condensed milk, and heavy cream in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, cover tightly, and let steep for at least one hour.

Meanwhile, finely chop the chocolate and cut the butter into pieces. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set aside.

Remove the teabags from the milk mixture, making sure to squeeze as much liquid from the teabags as possible before discarding. Add the sugar to the milk mixture, return to the stove, and bring to a simmer. Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate and butter. Let sit for two minutes, then whisk until smooth.Cool completely.

Once cool, transfer the ganache to the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip on medium until light-colored and fluffy. Use immediately to spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

Extra Notes: Start steeping the cream and tea for the frosting first, it’ll save time. Brush tops of cupcakes with extra tea or a tea simple syrup to enhance the tea flavor. Sprinkle tops of frosted cupcakes with sea salt to make them extra special.

Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Cupcakes, https://artsntarts.wordpress.com/

The darkness of the chocolate was perfect and the earl grey tea made these cupcakes oh so sophisticated, because we like to thing we are.

Girly chat about boys, clothes, and shoes could be heard while these baked, as a smell of sweet cake wafted from the oven. They were speckled with sea salt to take them over the top and they tasted sinfully rich. We could feel nothing but happiness as we ate these cupcake; cherishing the sweet time we had together.

I love my Raechy.

Daddy – Apple Tart

My dad, he’s not an ordinary man. He’s one of the friendliest people I know, and will approach absolutely anyone to start up a conversation. Yet, at the same time, he somehow seems to be a quiet and reserved man. It sounds impossible, for a man to be social, yet reserved, but that’s the best way I can put my dad into words.  There’s a gentleness that my father possesses, that I imagine he picked up somewhere from his love and respect for nature and having three daughters and no sons. I think it takes a special sort of man to raise only daughters, and my dad certainly figured it out. From teaching us the outdoor activities he loves so much, such as fishing, hiking, and hunting, to taking us to the father daughter dances at school when we were growing up, he always found a way to let us become the women that we truly were.

He travels for work now. It’s home two weeks, China two weeks, home two weeks, China, Indonesia, India, home, Singapore, home. But it always starts and ends with home. My dad’s heart is always at home. When he told me they offered him this job (a really good one that I can tell he loves) when I was just a toddler, but he turned it down, I teared up. I couldn’t imagine growing up with my dad’s time consumed by travel, missing all the moments I took for granted, and I was overcome with thankfulness that he found priority in family over work and money. I don’t think he knows how much that really means to me, but it was those small moments that he chose not to miss that really shaped me into the woman I am today: the encouragement he gave me in sports (even though I can’t kick a soccer ball to save my life!), the inspiration he gave me in my schooling, and the beauty he made me feel every single day.

Whenever I bake my dad’s the first in line to taste test. As in, he pokes around the kitchen when he notices a mixing bowl, stays near, and happens to be present when the oven door opens. I always have to remind him not to touch, but he does anyway. I think he always tastes a crumb before I give him an actual bite. But his persistence pays off, and he’s rewarded with his share. At this point he informs me with a grin, “this isn’t good at all,” followed by his sampling of another piece.  I love those simple moments.

He loves pie. Pie isn’t something we have often, but if I had to pick a dessert to describe my dad it would be hot apple pie with ice cream on top.  On the fourth of July this year, I remembered I had a tart shell in the freezer needing a filling soon. I was so happy that he was home for this holiday and we were having a nice meal as a family together, so I wanted to make it special for my dad. I used the apple pie inspiration to make an apple tart that we topped with homemade whipped cream. It was my dad, like a classic, inviting and ready to be your friend, yet with a bit quieter core than pie, gentle and handsome.

This tart had a flakey buttery tart shell from a recipe that made two when we needed only one. I used this piecrust recipe. Then I adapted this recipe slightly for the filling and apples, adding a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg under the filling and to the top to spice it up a bit.

saw: a spiral

heard: fireworks and laughter

tasted: warm and classic

felt: buttery and flakey

smelled: spice

French Apple Tart


Any Tart Shell – I used this recipe

Frangipane Filling

1 stick butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

½ tsp almond extract

¾ cup almond flour

2 Tbsn all purpose flour

4 medium apples, sliced thin

1 Tbsn brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out tart shell and place inside a tart pan.

To make the filling, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly mix in the egg and egg yolk. Add almond extract, then almond flour gradually while mixing, just until incorporated.

Spread the frangipane into the shell. Fan the apples over the tart, overlapping working from the outside in. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes, reduce to 350F and bake an additional 20 minutes, until apples are tender and tart is slightly browned.