Caramel Apple Tartlets

Ok, so maybe I made these tartlets because I had some caramel sauce just begging to be used.  Sometimes I plan things out like that.  And by that I mean most of the time.  I’m a compulsive planner.  If only I could let my life slide by nonchalantly like a caramel drizzle, but alas, it is not so.

So I committed an act of premeditated deliciousness.  I thought these tartlets would be like little caramel apple bits in a pie shell, but they weren’t.  They were better.  Where the caramel used to coat apples is thick and chewy, after being baked in these tartlets, the caramel becomes soft and subtle, lending its flavors to the tart without overpowering.

And the crust.  Oh the crust.  Almondy heaven.  For some reason I love all almond-flavored baked goods, but I don’t actually enjoy eating the nut plain.  This almond scented crust made my kitchen smell heavenly.   I wish I could have infused it into wax and turned it into a candle.

Basically, I love each of the components of this tart a lot on their own, and all together, well, there are no words really.  Just photos.  Look at the photos.  Then make these tartlets.

Caramel Apple Tartlets

Adapted from The Pastry Affair

Makes 8 tartlets or 1 9” tart

Tart Dough 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

In a food processor, blend the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and process until well mixed. Add in the almonds, salt, vanilla extract, and egg and process again. Scrape around the bowl if necessary. Add the flour and pulse just until the dough forms a ball. The dough will be the consistency of very soft and sticky cookie dough.

Remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight to firm up the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

When chilled until firm, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8-inch thick (you may have to wait a few minutes for the dough to soften). Cut out rounds of dough to fit the tartlet pans (alternatively, if you are making a large, single tart, roll out the dough and cut a large circle to fit the tart pan). Press the dough carefully into the pans; be careful not the stretch the dough! Stab the bottom several times with a fork so the dough will not rise in the oven.

Bake the tart shells for 15-18 minutes, or until they are lightly colored and the shell feels dry to the touch. Let cool completely before filling.

Orange Citrus Caramel (I used my homemade caramel sauce instead)

Yields 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water. Scrape down sides of pan and let sugar boil, without stirring, until sugar reaches a golden amber color (if using a candy thermometer, this happens somewhere between 325F to 350F). Remove sugar from heat and allow to rest for a full minute before pouring in warmed heavy cream. Whisk vigorously to incorporate cream (caramel will bubble up violently so be very careful!). Whisk in orange juice and salt.

To store, keep refrigerated in an air-tight container.

Apple Filling (Note: You will have to 1 1/2 this recipe for a 9-inch tart)
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest (I used lemon)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, combine apples, orange juice, orange zest, and cinnamon.

To Assemble:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Spoon apples into baked and cooled tart shells (apples will cook down while baking so pile them high). Pour caramel over each tart until it reaches the rim of the shell. Place tarts on a parchment lined baking sheet (do not skip this!) and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until apples are tender. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on pan before attempting to move them (the caramel needs to harden up slightly or the tarts will crumble under your fingers).

Serve slightly warmed, with a dollop of whipped cream if desired.

Note: I halved the entire recipe and got 4 tartlets.

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