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Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling

Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling

Gluten Free Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling

I’m late with my homework today. But for me, a woman in her *ahem* very late 30s who already has 3 children and an already very full life thankyouverymuch — being late with your blog homework is waaaaay better than being late with something else that could be late. So, you know. I’m counting my blessings. And my children. There are so many of them, that I find it helpful to count my children every now and again. 1 – 2 – 3. Whew.

And I totally have a great reason for being late today. And by “great reason” I mean really annoying thing in my life that I could not avoid and its name is My Internet Has Been Broken And It’s Not My Fault. I would have totally borrowed a cup of wireless from one of my neighbors, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that work. Oh, and in the name of Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction, one of my neighbors has a wireless network with the moniker “Nastytown.” So far, no one will own up to it. You know who you are, Nastytown. For now, sadly, I don’t.

So I’m writing to you low tech, but don’t worry it’ll totally translate.


I was all set to finish Apple Week here on the most inexpensive blog on the block with a really nice recipe for Apple Tartlets. They’re super elegant and impressive. Are you impressed?

Gluten Free Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling

They’re really flaky and light in the crust department, smooth and creamy in the filling area, and rather toothsome in the apple area. A symphony. Masterful. And if that crust were just your run-of-the-mill flaky gluten-free pie crust, we’d totally shake hands and part ways as friends. Good friends. Bosom buddies, even.

So that was the plan. ‘Cause you can’t hardly or necessarily tell from the pictures that this crust is, indeed, gluten-free puff pastry — and the cheater kind, too, that is less precious and takes less time (although, still, it takes time let’s be honest, Friend).

But then I went and did it. I also made this, with the same component parts.

Gluten Free Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling

Same deal, different shape. A shape that shows off the layers. And I posted it on Facebook. Next thing I know, you promise to love me forever. And then I wanted to know — would you need me would you never leave me would you make me so happy for the rest of my life would you take me away would you make me your wife I gotta know right now. That’s right. I turned into Meatloaf. And it was kind of embarrassing for everyone involved, if you wanna know the truth.

So here we are. Thinking a gluten-free cream filled apple tartlet with a regular more-than-flaky-enough pastry crust just wasn’t good enough. You needed this:

Gluten Free Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling

But I’m feeling a little squeezy about the whole thing. I think we need some build-up to puff pastry. I feel like perhaps we need tons of pictures that I just don’t have right now. Or maybe we need just a few pictures, but exactly the right ones. There are many other bloggers, way more fabulous than I, who have made beautiful puff pastry in an artful bloggy way. And frankly I have found it confusing and crazy-making enough to have me nibbling my nails down to nubbins. The turns! They can sound so big and scary. All the folding. And the rolling. Not to  mention all the chilling. And all of the warnings. By well-meaning, intelligent people. But I’m well-meaning, if not mildly intelligent. And unless we talk about it a bit first, I’m afraid that you’re going to flop. You might panic! And then it won’t work. Promise. Why? Because, although making gluten-free puff pastry is not as scary or nearly as precious as all of that, it can smell fear like a bobcat. And it’ll POUNCE.

So in the name of more Julia Child confidence and less National Geographic hungry bobcat, no gluten-free puff pastry today. We will most definitely come back to it. I will attempt to succeed where others have faltered. We will talk about the similarities and differences between garden-variety pastry crust and puff pastry – gluten-free or not. We will chat about the folds, and why they serve us so well. And we will talk about places to stop, and count your chickens if you wish, and places to keep going for the intrepid. And, as always, I will be here for all of it. We’ll hold hands. And we’ll be a bit foolish. Then, we’ll eat. For whatever we make, no matter how it looks, it will taste glorious. And good enough will be, indeed, good enough.

For today, I give you creamy and smooth custard filling, toothsome apples, and still flaky gluten-free pastry crust. For this, the end of Apple Week on Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. With love.

Please tell me you understand about the puff pastry. Tell me we’re still best friends forever. I want you to be successful. It’s a little paternalistic, I know. But bear with me. Pretty please?

If you would be so kind as to use the pastry crust from the Peach Crostata recipe we made this Summer, I would be grateful.

Isn’t it pretty?

Gluten Free Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling

Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Nicole @ Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.com
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 12
Gluten-free Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling
  • 1 recipe gluten-free pastry crust from Peach Crostata recipe (link above in text), kept cold
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (sorry about the extra 2 ounces remaining – have some toast with a schmear)
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon Bird’s custard powder (substitute same amount corn starch)
  • 2 large crispy apples (like Empire), peeled cored, and sliced in 1/4 inch cross-section slices
  • Honey or agave nectar for drizzling
  1. Grease a 12-cup tartlet pan or standard muffin tin with unsalted butter, and set it aside. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Roll out the pastry crust between sheets of parchment paper until it is a bit more than 1/8-inch thick (the thickness of a nickel). Too thin and it will burn. Chill the rolled out dough until firm again. Cut out 12 rounds that are 1/2-inch wider in diameter than the width of the opening of your muffin or tartlet cups. Re-roll scraps as necessary, chilling in between rollings. Gently press each of the rounds into the bottom and sides of the prepared muffin cups (trimming any excess crust that extends over the top of the cups), and pierce the bottoms with the tines of a fork (see photo above). Place the tin in the refrigerator to chill as you prepare the filling.
  3. To prepare the filling, in a medium-sized bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), blend the cream cheese, egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and custard powder (or corn starch) until smooth and pourable.
  4. In a separate medium sized bowl, toss the apple slices in 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until the apples are well-coated.
  5. Remove the pie shells from the refrigerator. Pour the custard filling into the muffin cups until they are about 3/4 of the way full. Arrange the apple slices in a pretty way on the tops of the custard, dividing the slices evenly among the cups. Drizzle the tops of the apple slices with the honey or agave nectar and spread evenly over the apples with your fingers (this will help the apples brown).
  6. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the custard is set, the apples give to the tines of a fork and are lightly brown, and the crust is lightly browned.
  7. Serve warm.

When making the pastry crust, the flour you use will really, really matter. Better Batter really does work best. A bean flour blend will not cut it. Pamela’s baking mixes are not intended to be all-purpose gluten-free flours. They are multi-ingredient baking mixes.
If you would like to ensure perfectly cooked apples, you can try simmering them over medium heat for a few minutes after you toss the slices with the cinnamon, sugar and salt and before you place them on top of the custard. Confession: that’s what I did, so I’d have a really pretty result. So you would like me. *needy*

Me (it’s Nicole. remember me?)

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  • […] our Apple Crisp? Be still my heart. Apple Fritters were warm and comforting, crackling and sweet. Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling were almost too pretty to […]

  • […] your Better Batter GF Flour? Then The Wait is […]

  • Leanne
    October 18, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Hi Nicole, I need to be GF+Dairy free, have you heard of anyone substituting this cream cheese for non-dairy soy cream cheese? Thanks for your great posting. This is the first time I found you and I will be back for more!

    • Nicole
      October 18, 2011 at 3:36 PM

      Hi, Leanne,
      Welcome to the blog. :) I have not tried this recipe with soy cream cheese, but I think it would work just fine. Mostly what you’re looking for from the cream cheese is consistency (flavor, too, but you need it for the consistency), and soy cream cheese tends to get the consistency pretty well. I wish I could speak from specific experience, but I still feel pretty confident that you’d be successful. I hope that helps! Glad you’ll be visiting again. I love visitors. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • October 13, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    Perfect bite sized dessert…problem is, one is never enough!

    • Nicole
      October 14, 2011 at 7:39 AM

      I know, Angie! You’re so right. Quick fix for that — children who eat them all right out from under you, so you only got the one you ate before they got home from school. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • […] size of 1, but still I’m fairly certain of the connection.  Apple crisp, fritters, and tartlets with custard filling. Need I say more? Then came Monday. You know what happened on Monday. So I’m kinda jacked up […]

  • Coreena Taylor on Facebook
    October 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    I am going to try this recipe this weekend. A friend of mine brought me some fresh apples straight from an orchard in TN.

  • JoAnn C
    October 9, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    I just found your blog today. My sister and I are learning our way through the Gluten-Free world. A bit confusing and expensive until now. Your website is awesome! And terrific! Okay, enough sucking up. I have a request. Can I make this recipe with pears instead of apples? And do you have a recipe for Irish Soda Bread/Beer Bread? I’ve heard Redbridge by Anheuser-Busch is gluten free. Help! Thanks.

    • Nicole
      October 9, 2011 at 3:45 PM

      Hi, JoAnn,
      So glad you and your sister are enjoying the blog.
      Yes, you can definitely make this with pears. I think bartlett pears would probably work best, since they’re not too fibrous.
      There is a recipe for Irish Soda Bread in my cookbook, and I have a recipe for Beer Bread in an article I wrote in the most recent issue of Gluten Free Living Magazine. Unfortunately, they don’t publish the magazine’s recipes on their website, so you’d have to get a copy of the Fall issue of the magazine to see the recipe. I hope that helps!
      xoxo Nicole

    • JoAnn C
      October 9, 2011 at 7:07 PM

      Thanks Nicole!

      MY PLEASURE, JoANN! xoxo Nicole

  • Gretchen
    October 8, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    I’ve just recently connected to your blog and I have to say that I actually read your comments. Most of the time with the other blogs I follow, I’m there only for the recipes; but I love your sense of humor and your recipes are fantastic – keep up the great work and I will follow you whereever you go!

    • Nicole
      October 8, 2011 at 8:04 PM

      Hi, Gretchen,
      I’m so honored that you are willing to read me. [I keep thinking of that kid joke: What’s black and white and [read] all over? The newspaper! *groan*]
      Don’t you hate it when you’re reading a blog just for the recipe because the writing is either too self-involved or something, and they have the nerve to bury some of the recipe instructions in the text, so you skim, like, 4 times until you finally give in and either give up on the recipe, or end up reading the whole *yawn* post? I hate that. I strive never to do that.
      I’m so glad to have you here. I think we speak each other’s unspoken language. Fluently. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Carrie
    October 7, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    I understand about the puff pastry. And I still love you. Lots! As much as I want to make some flaky, delicious, beautimous puff pastry, it totally scares me.
    And these look wonderful anyways! We have, like, a million apples. And I’ve been drooling over these lovely apple week recipes. Hopefully I’ll have some time this weekend to make something!
    Sorry I haven’t been commenting lately, I have been reading all the recipes but haven’t had time to cook or comment or anything. But these delicious tartlets might be just the thing for dessert tonight!

    • Nicole
      October 7, 2011 at 6:30 PM

      Hi, Carrie,
      It’s nice to hear from you! No need to apologize for not commenting. You can dip in and out, however you like. I’ll be here. :)
      I hope you get a chance to make some tartlets this weekend. They’re worth the effort. Promise.
      Yeah, puff pastry is not something you want to spring on people. We need a prelude. A long prelude to puff pastry. Let the prelude begin!
      xoxo Nicole

    • Carrie
      October 7, 2011 at 9:15 PM

      Sounds good to me! By the way, these little guys looked so tasty I just had to make time (read: just forget homework/cleaning house/etc) to make them. And I was greatly rewarded. With deliciousness. And the crust is SO good too!

    • Nicole
      October 7, 2011 at 9:37 PM

      Hi, Carrie,
      You made them! That’s awesome. Especially since you’ve been so busy, it’s proper to cap off the week with something lovely for yourself. So glad you enjoyed them!
      Always lovely to hear from you. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Lauren
    October 7, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Mmmmmmm, this is what my family will be eating for dinner…and dessert

    P.S. reading your blog is almost like being inside my own head! I’m glad I’m not the only one…

    • Nicole
      October 7, 2011 at 6:28 PM

      Hi, Lauren,
      Dinner and dessert. That sounds perfect. It has fruit! It counts!
      My sympathies on the crazy stuff going on in your head, then. ;) Boom boom ain’t it great to be crazy. You are definitely not the only one!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Anneke
    October 7, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Oooohhh, I would love puffed pastry . . . but I’ll wait. Not sure I need to tackle it just now, anyway. I am always counting the children — “one, two, three, four, little children out the door!” Except the biggest little child is now taller than me . . .

    • Nicole
      October 7, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      Hi, Anneke,
      I make it a practice to take 3 children with me. Whether they’re my 3 children or not. I figure, if I end up with someone else’s child, chances are that person has my child. We’ll find each other to make a switcharoo in no time.
      I tell my children all the time how short they are, and how they can’t do certain things on account of the shortness. My oldest (now 9 1/2) keeps saying she can’t wait until she’s taller than I am, so she can call me short. And when she can, I shall accept it. Just deserts and all. ;)
      Thank you for understanding that it is best to build up to puff pastry. Success begets success, right?
      xoxo Nicole

    • October 8, 2011 at 4:26 PM

      Well, I have to say that I completely understand about the puff pastry. And yes,we’re still friends. Having tried the real thing once before, I understand that all that turning,layers and rolling can leave even an accomplished baker a bit swimmy-headed. We’ll wait,and you can share with us when you think it’s time. :)


    • Nicole
      October 8, 2011 at 8:11 PM

      Hi, Rachel,
      Thank you for understanding about the puff pastry – and for not forsaking me. :)
      The truth is, the turns and the layers and the rolling are really not very hard at all. And although it takes a long time from start to finish, most of it is not active time. But it is exceedingly difficult to teach in a static blog entry, since the tendency is to overexplain. It really lends itself most to a video tutorial. If you could see me do even just one turn, you would understand it intuitively, and your likelihood of success would skyrocket. But I think the first video I need to do is rolling out GF pie crust or pizza dough. That’s the foundation skill. Then, the puff pastry video. And although I recently got the proper video camera, I’m a little afraid of the whole process. I’m warming up to it, though. Promise. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    October 7, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    (softly streaming on one’s head) Heaven….I’m in heaven!
    Thank you…

    • Nicole
      October 7, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      Hi, Pamela,
      I hope you, Scott and, of course, Molly enjoy them. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Peggy
    October 7, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Ah, Nicole, we will always love you! We can wait….maybe a little bit! :) Especially when you present us with such beautiful apple tarts with custard filling!!! OK, got to get this quilt retreat behind me…I have more baking to do!!!

    • Nicole
      October 7, 2011 at 2:03 PM

      Hi, Peggy,
      Thank you for your understanding. I didn’t want to seem a tease. Nobody likes a tease. :) I hope the quilting retreat is a quilting success! I’ll be right here when you return. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • October 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    I totally understand about the puff pastry…heck, I’m just learning the ropes here and from where I stand now, that would be a huge jump (like going from learning how to use a crockpot to making Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon the next day). I will be patient.

    A GF Padawan Learner

    • Nicole
      October 7, 2011 at 2:08 PM

      Dear GF Padawan Learner,
      I had to look you up, since I had never before heard of a Padawan Learner, or any other sort of Padawan for that matter. At first, upon a quick reading, I read it as “Padawan Lawyer.” And I thought, “Oh, I didn’t know that Michelle was a lawyer, too! And from Padawan, wherever that is.”
      Thank you for mentioning boeuf bourguignon, since “beouf” is my favorite French word to say. Since it sounds so much like “puff.”
      I know you can make puff pastry. I know it! But want you to come to know it I do. In good time.
      Did you know that there is someone who tweets as @yoda? He tweets, I follow.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Dana Baker Coughlin on Facebook
    October 7, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    I might have to try these too, I found some apples in the fridge crisper that are a little past their prime.

  • Nancy Bakanowicz on Facebook
    October 7, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    I have to try these! That crust looks positively amazing.

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