I’m going through some pretty serious fall withdrawal here in the Mediterranean. And munching down an apple or two just isn’t cutting it.
I am a Michigan girl after all. I’ve been ruined for Octobers anywhere else in the world. When the calendar slips into the final quarter of the year, something instinctual within me begins to crave cider. Sweaters. Pumpkins. Leaf-covered sidewalks. The whole shebang. And despite how gorgeous Corsica is, fall on the island is failing to satisfy my hunger for autumn.
Thankfully, I found a (albeit temporary) cure. The recipe for this caramel apple tart appeared like a gift from heaven in my inbox yesterday morning, via my subscription to the wonderful Smitten Kitchen food blog. It didn’t take much to convince my housemate to join me in bringing this fall treat to our own Corsican kitchen. And so for one afternoon, at least, I could forget the blazing sun and verdant foliage outside my window and indulge my autumnal side.
caramel apple tart
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
for the tart:
1 package puff pastry, defrosted
3 -4 large apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
for the caramel glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
First, line your pan with parchment paper (tip: I used the paper that the pastry came wrapped in, and it worked just fine). I used a circular pan because it was available, but a a rectangular pan will do, too, as long as it has enough of a lip. Roll out your dough and trim to fit the pan. Leave an inch or so of dough hanging over the edge of the pan; you’ll fold this over later. Also, make sure you save the leftover dough, as it makes a real sweet treat when baked into little puff pastry stars (see photo at the end of this post).
Next, peel, core and slice your apples as thin as you can, and begin the painstaking but actually enjoyable task of lining the tart with the slices. Try to fan them in overlapping concentric circles. Be patient. Take your time. When you’re done, fold over the edges of the dough.
Before you pop this bad boy in the oven, cut two tablespoons of cold butter into cubes and dot evenly across the apples. Then sprinkle evenly with two tablespoons of granulated sugar. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the pastry begins to turn a toasty brown.
Once you have about ten minutes to go on the tart, you can prepare the caramel glaze. This was my first experience making homemade caramel. I’ll admit: I was skeptical that putting sugar over heat could magically result in anything resembling caramel. But oh my goodness, it really works. And it’s so easy. Start with putting a quarter cup of granulated sugar in a saucepan and letting it sit over a medium flame for about three minutes. Watch and be amazed as it melts into a gorgeous caramel color.
As soon as it’s all melted down, remove from heat and add two tablespoons of butter and the sea salt. Mix until combined. Return the saucepan to the stove (again, medium heat) and add your cream or milk, stirring as it combines into lovely, creamy, salty caramel. Forget Harry Potter; for me this is magic.
Once the tart is finished, transfer to a cooling rack but leave the oven on. Carefully pour the caramel over the apples. Feel free to drizzle a little on the crust as well. Once you feel the tart has been adequately glazed, return to the over for 5 or 10 more minutes.
And voila! A true celebration of autumn, right there in your kitchen. Let the tart cool completely before diving in. This treat is certainly sweet enough to enjoy on its own (perhaps with a mug of spiced tea?) but I won’t judge if you pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In fact, I’d applaud you for making the right choice.
Oh, and remember that extra dough you trimmed at the beginning? I sure hope you folded them into adorable star shapes (or whatever shape you fancy), sprinkled them with sugar (and cinnamon?) and let them bake for 15-20 minutes. They make a perfect snack while you eagerly wait for the tart to cool.
Happy October, wherever you are!