The Apple Tarte Tatin is a quintessentially French dessert. There are really two styles of french pastry, the super fussy, Marie Antoinette style creations that are almost too beautiful to eat and look nearly impossible to create and then the country-side, rustic sweets that are more delicious than beautiful.
I say this falls into the second category, but I think it is stunningly beautiful with its rich caramel apples and flaky pastry peeking out from under them. Rustic yes, but no less sophisticated than a Croquembouche or Paris-Brest, in my mind.
I was inspired to make this Apple Tarte Tatin when the latest issue of Bake From Scratch Magazine arrived and Susan Spungen‘s Tarte was on the cover. Before I even opened the magazine I was preparing it in my head.
The weather here in Minnesota is newsworthy and we are expecting the temperature to fall below -60 degrees F, so I need to make the Apple Tarte Tatin with the ingredients I have on hand, since I will NOT be leaving the house to shop. I don’t have puff pastry made and although Susan’s extra flaky dough is faster than the traditional dough, it still requires more time than I have today, so I got creative and made a very non-traditional baklava-like crust. I simply layered phyllo dough with honey, butter, vanilla and walnuts until I had a crust worthy of the caramelized apples. It is just as flaky and adds a bit of depth and character. Both ways are terrific and Susan’s article in the magazine is all about the classic and the reinvented (she made gorgeous pineapple and savory tomato versions as well), so I think she’ll approve!
- 7 or 8 apples, peeled, halved and cored use an apple that keeps its shape when cooked. I used Organic Daisy Girl apples, which were a new variety for me and I loved them.
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 4 tbsp (57g) butter
- 1 vanilla bean split in half, scraped
- 2 tbsp Grand Marnier or Brandy optional
Baklava (Phyllo) Crust
- 8 sheets phyllo dough
- 1 stick (113g) butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- Pinch salt
- 1 vanilla bean split, and scraped or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups (185g) walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped into small pieces
- Ice cream for serving
- In a 10-inch skillet melt the sugar over medium-low heat, so that it melts evenly, but don't stir it until at least half of the sugar is melted and turning to caramel. Once this happens stir it and continue to cook until most, if not all the sugar is melted. Add the butter, vanilla bean and booze, give it a good stir and then add the apples. Cook over medium-low heat until the apples are well caramelized, moving them around in the sugar to make sure they are cooking evenly. Once they are cooked, prepare the Phyllo crust.
- Heat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the middle of the oven.
- Melt the butter, honey, vanilla and salt together in a small pan.
- Brush the mixture over one sheet of phyllo dough, then sprinkle with the chopped walnuts. Drape another layer of phyllo over the walnuts and brush it with the butter mixture and sprinkle with more walnuts. Repeat this with the rest of the sheets of phyllo dough, butter mixture and walnuts, finishing with a sheet of phyllo and butter mixture, but leave the top without nuts. Fold the phyllo so that it is the same width as the pan, then trim the corners and edges to fit over the apples. You want the layered phyllo to be slightly larger so you can tuck it in around the apples a bit.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until the phyllo crust is golden brown.
- Invert the Tarte Tatin onto a serving dish. If any of the caramel is left in the pan, add a bit more booze and deglaze it. Pour this caramel over the tarte. Serve it warm or room temperature with or without ice cream. Makes a great breakfast too.