"S Cookie" Apple Tart

As a child, my Sunday routine went something like this: wake up, go to church, go see Aunt May and Uncle Ed (not their real names) for "S Cookies" and, seasonally, apple picking in the backyard. By "S Cookie" I mean the Stella D'oro Original breakfast cookie but I don't know anyone who calls it that. This is an "S Cookie",

Sadly, my Aunt May passed away last week. She was an incredibly kind, wonderful woman who never stopped smiling. I find that when I'm sad or stressed I tend to bake more, simply to keep my hands and mind busy, but this time I wanted to do it with purpose. I wanted to make something that evoked the happy times with Aunt May, which is how I got this "S Cookie" Apple Tart.

You'll need:

1 cup flour

3 Stella D'oro Original Cookies

Dash of salt

1 1/2 sticks of butter, divided

4 tbsp sugar, divided

4 tbsp ice water

2-3 Granny Smith apples depending on size, peeled and sliced into semi circles (you can do this while dough softens)

1 tsp crushed anise seed

2tbsp milk to brush crust

For the crust: In a food processor or blender, pulverize 3 cookies to a fine crumble, it should make roughly 3/4 cup. Mix the cookie crumble with the flour and salt in processor. Cut 1 1/4 sticks of butter into pieces and pulse until just mixed. Place mixture in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Then add 4 tablespoons ice water and incorporate it with your hands. It will take some time to get the dough to come together but do not over mix. Once mixed, flatten the dough into thick disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate one hour or up to the day before.

For the tart: Preheat oven to 400F. Remove dough from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. In the meantime, peel the  apples and slice into semi circles/half moons. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. and place the apple slices in overlapping rows or concentric circles, leaving about an inch from the edge of the dough. It's supposed to be "free form" so depending on what form yours takes you may decide to arrange the slices differently. Fold the edges over the apple slices.

Top the apples with small pieces of remaining butter, 1 tablespoon of remaining sugar and the teaspoon of crushed anise seed. Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle the last tablespoon of sugar over the crust. Place tart on an ungreased baking sheet (I line with tinfoil for easy clean up) and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Keep extra refrigerated for 2-3 days and warm up in the oven on low temp or microwave for 15 seconds.

It's a nice, familial spin on a classic apple tart. The crushed anise seed magnifies the cookie flavor in the crust and is a fresh, pleasant pairing with apple (bye, cinnamon). I know I said I wasn't baking until the temperature dropped a few degrees but I felt compelled to make something to memorialize my Aunt May. For me, food is the best way to manage or express my feelings; instead of letting the sadness and nostalgia linger, I channeled it into something more constructive and celebratory. I only wish she were here to share it with me.  Until the next dish, ciao!