Apple Tarte Tatin
For us, apples are the quintessential fall fruit, a harbinger not only of cooler nights and shorter days, but also of all that is cozy and scrumptious about the coming holiday season. So we were thrilled when the test kitchen decided to make a classic apple tarte tatin. In fact, we perched at the counter with our tasting forks and waited as they made the buttery caramel and then cooked the apples in it. The smell was exquisite.
Essentially, a tarte tatin is an upside-down cake. You arrange the cooked apples in a cake pan, drizzle on the excess caramel, drape everything in puff pastry, and tuck it in the oven. Simple, no? Yes! And yet, when you flip it onto a plate, the apples are so plump and shiny and golden brown — it feels very, very elegant and French indeed.
Oh, la, la but the flavor! The caramel has an almost boozy vanilla richness, and it gives the apples some wonderful depth. They’re positively plush with it. We love the contrast of all that soft, juicy, sweetness with the flaky puff pastry. Even better: Serve your tarte tatin with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. Your guests will swoon.
Our tip: The shape of the apples is a big part of the tarte tatin’s dramatic presentation. If you decide not to use Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apples, make sure you use a variety that won’t fall apart in the baking.
Serves: 6 to 8
Apple Tarte Tatin
Grease a 10” cake or pie pan with butter, line it with parchment paper, and grease the parchment. Set aside.
Peel the apples, cut them in half, and trim the ends to remove the stems. Use a melon baller or teaspoon measure to scoop out the core. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice to coat. Set aside.
In a stock pot or sauté pan, sprinkle the sugar in an even layer. Place the pot over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar is partially melted and starting to caramelize, 4 minutes. Whisk the unmelted sugar into the caramel until dissolved and dark amber, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately turn off the heat and whisk the diced butter into the caramel until melted and smooth. Note: the caramel will bubble vigorously when the butter is added.
Stir in the apples, vanilla extract, and salt. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the apples are tender, 10 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer the apples to the prepared pan: Arrange 11 of the halves, rounded side down, in a circle around the outside, overlapping each other by about ⅓. Arrange the remaining 3 apple halves in the center of the ring, overlapping each other by about ⅓.
Pour any remaining caramel over the apples. If it starts to seize up, reheat the caramel gently over medium heat until melted. Let this cool for 10 minutes.
Roll the puff pastry sheet into an 11x11” square. Cut the pastry into a circle slightly larger than the cake pan.
Place the puff pastry on top of the apples, tucking the edges in. Cut a vent in the center.
Bake the tarte tatin for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown and the apples are bubbling around the edges.
Remove the tarte tatin from the oven and run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the crust. Let cool for 1 hour. Carefully flip the tarte tatin onto a serving dish, remove the parchment, and serve warm. Note: Alternatively, you may let the tarte tatin cool completely and rewarm it in a 350º oven for a few minutes before flipping.
Tarte tatin is best enjoyed fresh, but it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Recipe adapted from: Smitten Kitchen