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’d 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 gorgeous than a Croquembouche or Paris-Brest, in my mind.
I’ve often said this is my comfort food, the one dessert I almost always choose on a menu (I rarely pick just one) and I start nearly every trip to NYC with a slice from Buvette in the West Village.
The key to success is having the proper apples. You want them to keep their shape while cooking in the caramel, so they absorb the bittersweet sugar and don’t just turn to mush. I’ve had good success with Pink Lady, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, and/or Granny Smith. Stay away from apples like McIntosh, Golden Delicious, and Fuji which break down and make sauce.
Traditionally the crust is a layer of Puff Pastry draped over the caramelized apples and baked upside-down, then inverted to reveal the deep caramel colored apples. The transformation is dramatic and delicious. You can make puff pastry or use a high-quality store-bought version. You can also use Pie dough or even sheets of Phyllo. The crust is the canvas that holds the apples, so you can get creative with whatever you have on hand. Below I give the instructions for all of the crust options.Read More