Are you the adult cousin tasked with bringing napkins to Thanksgiving dinner because your family doesn’t trust you around an open flame? Are you a mother of three who’s forgotten to plan out your own contribution to a family get together and all the usual pies are spoken for? Maybe you’re just a Friendsgiving guest sick of the traditional pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies, and you want to bring something a little off the menu. Well, these recipes are for you. All can be made using a store-bought pie crust, and don’t require a culinary degree to put together—just a hand mixer and a few signature ingredients that do a lot of the heavy lifting.
The Tarte Normande is the charming cousin of the Tarte Tatin, a neighboring apple pie from the next region over in France. It is made with heavy cream, apples and Calvados, an apple brandy native to Normandy, giving the pie a rich texture and flavor that isn’t too sweet. If you can’t get your hands on Calvados, another apple brandy or even cognac will work in a pinch. The crust can be made from scratch and baked with the apples and custard to create an overall texture that melts in your mouth, but you can also use a store bought pie crust if you don’t feel like rolling out your own.
1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cold water
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup sugar
1 oz Calvados
½ cup heavy cream
Step 1: Cream butter with an electric mixer. Add in egg yolk, followed by flour, salt, and water. When the dough has formed, press it into the base of a tart pan and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Step 2: While your dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Step 3: Peel and core your apples, then thinly slice them. Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer until the mixture is thick, about five minutes. Add Calvados and heavy cream until mixture is smooth.
Step 4: Remove dough from fridge and layer apple slices over the bottom of the tart pan. Pour custard over the apples. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack, and serve with a glass of Calvados.
Tarte Amandine aux Poires
This tart goes by many names: Tarte Amandine aux Poires; La Tarte Bourdaloue; Pear Frangipane Tart. One of the lesser-known French tarts, it uses poached pears and an almond custard to create a hearty dessert that is both seasonal and easy to make at any time of year, thanks to the canned pears that are usually used.
½ cup sugar
10 tablespoons butter
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 ⅓ cups flour
4 canned pear halves
1 cup almond flour
7 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
Step 1: You’re going to need to create a pâte brisée, or shortcrust pastry, as the base for this pie. But as mentioned, store bought is always a valid option. The texture will be more flaky and less crumbly, since pie crust has a higher fat-to-flour ratio than shortcrust, but we doubt anyone will be complaining. Mix your sugar, flour, and salt together in a bowl. Add in butter with an electric mixer until you get a sandy texture. Add the egg and continue to blend. Once combined, roll out the dough, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Once your dough is chilled, roll it out again and cover the bottom of your tart pan, folding the edges to the sides of the tin and trimming off any excess.
Step 3: Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture is pale. Beat in eggs, then add almond flour and combine.
Step 4: Spread almond mixture to cover the bottom of the tart. Thinly slice the canned pears and arrange on top of the almond mixture so that they maintain their original pear shape.
Step 5: Bake for 30 minutes.
Tarte aux Framboises
This recipe is from our roundup of Easy Berry Recipes for Summer, but it’s always a colorful crowd-pleaser and let’s be honest—you’re not above buying off-season raspberries from California at your local Whole Foods. The tarte aux framboises is one of the staples of French pâtisserie, but you don’t need to study at Le Cordon Bleu to make one at home. Since this recipe calls for a pie crust and not a shortcrust, save yourself some trouble by using a store-bought pie crust.
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ pound fresh raspberries
Step 1: Blind bake your pie crust. Dock the bottom of your crust with a fork, cover in parchment paper, and fill with dried beans or rice to weigh the crust down. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 375°F until golden brown. When finished, remove and let come to room temperature.
Step 2: While your crust cools, prepare your pastry cream. Beat egg yolks and sugar with a whisk in a saucepan until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the flour.
Step 3: In a separate saucepan, heat the milk until it begins to simmer. Whisking constantly, pour the milk into the yolk mixture. Let thicken over medium heat for about five minutes, until a custard consistency is reached.
Step 4: Remove the custard from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Set aside and let cool to room temperature on the counter or in the fridge.
Step 5: When the pie shell has cooled, add the custard, topping with raspberries. Refrigerate until the tart has set.
Catherine Rickman is a writer and professional francophile who has lived in Paris, New York, and Berlin. She is currently somewhere in Brooklyn with a fork in one hand and a pen in the other, and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @catrickman.
Also Read: Easy French Vegetarian Recipes