Friday, October 12, 2012

Apple Cream Cheese Tart

by Sheila Connolly

As you might guess, I love apples. I love cooking with apples, both sweet and savory recipes.  I love eating and growing apples.

Recently I've been finding some wonderful antique items relating to apples.  The first was an apple peeler, made in Leominster in 1882.  (Leominster is where my very distant cousin Johnny Appleseed came from, and there's still an orchard there that belonged to his family.)  There are plenty of modern peelers available, and they usually follow the same principle:  there's a base, a prong that holds the apple in place, and a gear and handle to advance the apple against a blade, removing the peel and (optionally) slicing it.

The one I found is different.  As far as I can tell (I haven't tested it), the apple remains stationary, and the blade moves around it.  Or maybe they both move at the same time, in different directions.  Guess what—19th century equipment doesn't come with instruction manuals!

But my favorite find was a small apple press.  I saw one of these more than a year ago in an antique shop, but it cost more than I wanted to pay.  I never forgot it, though, and recently I decided to check eBay for one like it.  Oh joy!  There were many, at an absurd range of prices.  And when you're dealing with a cast-iron device, shipping is not a small item.

But apparently it was meant to be:  I found one vendor who had the press at a price less than that antique store, including shipping.  And now it's mine!  I'm still trying to work out how it would have been used (not the mechanics, which are simple enough:  put apples in perforated metal container, lock the top, and turn the crank; apple juice comes out the bottom).  It holds four quarts of raw apples, but I'm guessing you get only a pint or two of juice.  That makes it a kitchen appliance (a theory supported by the pretty painted decoration).  If you want your cider absolutely fresh and unadulterated, this is the solution.

But I digress.  I love apple pie, but I'm crust-challenged: I just can't make one.  In this household, my husband makes the pie crusts. Luckily I found a recipe that doesn't involve more than squishing the crust into a pan. Then you add a thin layer of cream cheese filling and your apples.



Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

½ cup salted butter
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

In a food processor, put all the ingredients and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.  Press the crumbs into an 8 or 9-inch springform pan, and push the crumbs up the side for about an inch (it doesn't have to be perfect).  Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden.  Remove it from the oven.

Cream Cheese Filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla, until smooth. 

Apple topping:

3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced (find good cooking apples—Cortland or Golden Delicious work well because they soften without losing their shape)
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup sugar

Toss the ingredients together in a bowl.

The tart shell does not need to be cooled before you add the cream filling and spread it over the bottom.  Then arrange the apple slices over the top. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the apples are cooked (you can poke a slice with the point of a knife to check).

You might want to add a glaze (a little clear apricot or apple jelly, thinned with water) to pretty up the tart, or you could sprinkle it with coarse sugar (caster or Demerara sugar) and/or nuts.




  1. Fun post and amazing recipe, Sheila. Those antiques are fascinating, esp. the apple press, which reminds me a little of my pop's old grape press (for wine making). And I have to add that I think it's incredibly cool that you're related to Johnny Appleseed. I could not imagine a better author for a series of wonderful mysteries set in an apple orchard. Cheers to you, and...

    Enjoy the fall weekend!
    ~ Cleo

  2. Lovely Sheila--I could eat that for breakfast:). And Cleo is right--you are the perfect author for the apple orchard mystery series...

  3. What a hoot that you're related to Johnny Appleseed! I think he'd be very proud of this apple tart. Love the cream cheese in it. Very smart. In fact, it's giving me ideas . . .

    ~ Krista

  4. Sheila, love the antiques. And love the recipe. I can make a crust, but one of my all-time favorite breakfast "desserts" is a tart like this. {For Gluten-free people, the pat-crust is a great solution for crusts.} Can't wait to make this one! Now...add a slice of cheese to it --cheese and apples, a perfect pair-- and I'm in heaven. :)

    ~Daryl aka Avery

  5. I have the same "apple press". My dad found it in my grandmother's garage and cleaned up for me. We went apple picking and pressed and pressed bushels of apples. It worked terribly as a cider press. Then someone told us that's because it is a sausage press. That made sense, too. I saw a similar one in an antique store that confused me further. The tag read, "apple/sausage press". Last night my Mennonite neighbor who is a dairy farmer walked in to my dining room, saw it and said, "Oh, I see you have a cheese press." All I could do was stand there laughing. I looked online and found the same identical model labeled as a cheese press. I sent my dad the link and he said that made sense but wondered how you would get the cheese out when you are done pressing it. I'm so glad he asked before I crammed a couple of pounds of cheese into it because I have no idea. I'm as confused as ever as to what my press may have been made for. Your apple tart looks great! I think I'll make one from the apples I just peeled to make ACV.