If caramel apples make you smile, you are going to love this Caramel Apple Tart! That and the fact that for a pretty impressive looking dessert, it’s super easy to make—far less work than a traditional apple pie. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be apple pie on your holiday table—that would be crazy talk— but if you’re looking to change things up a little this year, I think this is the way to go. That and the fact that this makes a ton of gorgeous, gooey caramel sauce!!!
Let’s talk about that caramel sauce, shall we? First off, let’s all admit that the stuff from the jar just can’t compare to what you can easily whip up at home. Now that we’ve got that straight, I want to tackle the intimidation factor. I know, you’re worried that it’ll burn, or you’ll burn yourself or you won’t be able to tell when it’s done—I’ve been there myself but I promise you, that this particular caramel sauce is a snap to make and will be a guaranteed finger-lickin’ success. There’s only one rule: DO NOT WALK AWAY!!. This is one of those times that you absolutely shouldn’t multi-task. Don’t peel the apples, look at your phone, throw in a laundry—NADA. Just keep your eye on that pot of boiling caramel and all will be fine.
There’s even a simple test to check for caramel doneness. When it’s cooked down and thickened, dip a spoon into the mixture and let it coat the back of it. Now, swipe your finger across the back of the spoon to create a wide stripe. If the caramel holds and doesn’t seep back together, you’re good to go!
Another reason that you might want to consider making this tart, is the easiness of the dough. It all comes together in a food processor and is very forgiving when it comes to rolling out. Plus, the fluted edges of the tart pan do all the decoration work, so there’s no need to crimp or fancy it up. Happiness!
Now let’s get to the apple part, since after all this is an apple tart. Ha! Most pies and tarts have you slice up or chop up the apple, but in this version, you simply peel, core and cut the apples into quarters. Not only is this a huge time saver, but it also really lets the flavor and texture of the apples shine through.
Plus, it’s kinda cool to do the concentric apple thing!
Once you’ve fit as many quarters as you can into that circle, you slice the remaining apples into eighths and pack them together in the center for a little vertical action. Definitely makes for a unique presentation!
And after the tart comes out of the oven, you drizzle (or pour) on the warm caramel sauce and let it set. Absolutely drool-worthy!
Right before you’re ready to serve, you pour on some more caramel, ‘cause why in the heck not?
If you have extra dough and apples leftover, you can even make some adorable little individual tartlets!
The taste combo is just terrific—cinnamon-spiked sweet, tender apples, covered in just the right amount of rich, deep caramel sauce sitting on a sweet, almost shortbread-like crust. YUM!
Serve this for Thanksgiving and you might just be starting a new tradition! Oh, and all that leftover caramel sauce? Warm it up and drizzle it over ice cream or serve it with apples for a little dunking experience. The possibilities are endless!!
Caramel Apple Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart
You will need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom for this.
Prep Time for dough: 5 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time and up to one day; Prep Time for Filling: 15 minutes; Prep Time for Caramel Sauce: 15 minutes; Bake Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
For the Caramel Sauce
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the Crust
1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter (1/2 cup), cut into cubes
2 large eggs yolks
For the Filling
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 large Golden Delicious or other sweet apple, peeled, quartered and cored
To make the caramel: Place all the ingredients in a medium, heavyweight saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Then lower the heat a little and keep the mixture boiling for another 10 minutes or so, whisking every so often, until the caramel thickens and coats the back of a spoon thickly when you dip it into the mixture. This makes much more than you need for the tart and you can definitely cut it in half but it’s nice to have leftovers of this sauce and serve it with cut up apple slices or drizzle it over ice cream. You can also make the sauce 5 days ahead and store it in an airtight container in the fridge and just reheat over low heat, whisking until liquidy or reheat in the microwave.
To make the crust: Place the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend together. Add the butter and pulse until coarse meal forms. Add the yolks and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. If you don’t have a food processor, you can make this by hand using a pastry cutter to cut in the butter and eggs.
To make the filling: Whisk the sugar, flour and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the apples and toss to coat well. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375º. Lightly flour a board or countertop and roll out the dough to about a 13-inch round. If the dough has been chilling for a while, you may need to let it sit out for a bit to soften up. Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Cut off the overhang and use it to fill any spots that are thinner. If you have a lot of dough left over you can make a couple of free form tarts.
Place the apple quarters, cut side down, in a circle around the outer edge of the pan, fitting them tightly together. Cut the remaining quarters into thinner slices and stand them snugly together in the center of the tart. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until apples are tender. Remove tart from oven and drizzle a generous amount of the warm caramel sauce over it. Let cool to room temperature and serve. This cuts surprisingly well. Serve with warmed up caramel sauce on the side.
Note: Recipe adapted from an old issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.