Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to Make Mini Tarte Tatins (buttery sweet caramel apple tarts) by Cleo Coyle

Tarte Tatins are as common in France as our apple pie. Legend has it that the caramel apple dessert was created around 1900 by a pair of spinster sisters, who sold them to make their living. The last name of these women was Tatin. And that's why this delectable upside-down apple tart with buttery sweet caramel glaze is called tarte Tatin.

My recipe for you today (as part of our Mystery Lovers' Kitchen Apple Week!) is a mini version of the more traditional single, large Tatin. These mini caramel apple tarts are close to foolproof and they're great for holiday dinners for several reasons:

This dessert was mentioned
in my 6th Coffeehouse
Mystery: French Pressed.
To learn more about
my culinary mysteries, set
in a landmark Greenwich
Village coffeehouse,
click here.
(1) They're elegant little treats that always look amazing on dessert plates, as if a chef has "sauced" the apples with caramel. (2) Because they're individual servings, the recipe works for small dinner parties as well as large family gatherings. (3) Best of all, the tarts can be prepared in advance. Simply cover your ramekins with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for up to two days before baking and serving. (Just be sure you follow the recipe and toss the apple slices with lemon, which prevents them from turning brown.) 

Below the "mini" recipe, I have two variations for you: another version of the tart crust along with an at-a-glance Cake Pan Tarte Tatin recipe. Thanks for dropping by today. May you always bake with love and...

Eat with joy! 
~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle’s
Mini Tarte Tatins  

(Caramel Apple Tarts) 

To download a PDF of this recipe that you can print, save or share, click here.

Makes 6 Tarts
Filling ingredients:
3 Golden Delicious apples    
(*See my note below on type of apple)
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons flour

Caramel ingredients:
3 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons white sugar
6 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

You will also need:
1 package frozen puff pastry shells 
  (I use Pepperidge Farms)
1 egg white (to brush puff pastry)
6 ramekins (7 to 8-oz size)
   (greased well with butter)
6 dessert plates

*The Golden Delicious variety of apple is my favorite for tarte Tatin because it holds its shape during baking and won’t turn to apple sauce when you plate the dessert. Granny Smith and Jonathan will work, as well.

Step 1 - Prepare the filling: Peel and core 3 Golden Delicious apples. Cut apples into relatively thin, even slices, about ½ inch thick. Toss the slices in a bowl with the lemon juice first, then the flour, coating them lightly. Note: The lemon prevents the apples from turning brown and the flour will absorb excess liquid released by the apples. If you skip the flour, your tarts may be watery.

Step 2 - Prepare the caramel: Grease the bottom and sides of your ramekins with butter. In a small saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the white and brown sugars and stir over low heat with a rubber spatula (to prevent sticking) until the sugars dissolve completely in the butter. The mixture will become thick. While still warm, divide the sugar mixture evenly among your 6 ramekins. Use that handy rubber spatula to even the mixture out at the bottom of each ramekin. (The mixture will harden as it cools, and that’s fine. In the oven, it will melt again into a sweet, buttery caramel glaze for your apples.

Step 3 - Prepare for baking: Divide your apple slices among the ramekins, layering them on their sides. You can bake the ramekins immediately at this point or store them by covering each ramekin with plastic wrap and placing in the fridge. (I have stored mine as long as 2 days, and they still came out beautifully.)

Step 4 - Begin baking: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap, place ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes. (You are halfway through the baking process here...)

Step 5 - Remove your baking sheet of ramekins from oven and (remembering the ramekins are hot!) carefully set a fully FROZEN puff pastry shell on top of the layered apple slices of each ramekin. Brush the top of the frozen pastry with egg white. This will protect the delicate pastry and also help it turn golden brown. 

Step 6 - Return ramekins to oven for another 20 to 25 minutes. Pastry is done when dough puffs up and turns golden brown and the apples are cooked through. (You can test the softness of apples with the tip of a sharp knife.) Remove ramekins from oven and set on a cool surface. Let rest for five minutes. Note: The resting is important because your caramel will be boiling hot and you need to let it settle down.

Step 7 - Time to plate: Remembering that the ramekins are still HOT, use oven mitts to place a dessert plate over a ramekin and carefully flip it (like pineapple upside down cake). After you flip the tart, the flaky puff pastry will be on the bottom of the plate and the buttery sweet caramel will drip down over the entire tart and pool around it on the dessert plate as if a pastry chef sauced it. If slices of apples stick to the ramekin simply use clean fingers to replace it prettily over the tart. Serve warm as is or with whipped cream or ice cream.

My "Plate is Hot!" note: I have made this recipe many times, and it's worked perfectly every time. It’s nearly foolproof, but please remember that you are working with HOT ramekins at the stage of placing pastry over the apples and again when you are flipping the ramekin for plating. Be careful! 


Buttery, tender puff pastry makes the very best version of this dessert (IMO). However, I've made this recipe in the past with homemade sweet pastry dough. You're welcome to try that version, too. Click here for my sweet crust recipe. 

For six tarts, halve my recipe, roll out the dough, cut out circles to fit the top of your ramekins and tuck them in, sealing the dough against the sides of the ramekin. Be sure to make a small slice with a knife in the top of each crust for venting steam; and DO NOT brush homemade dough with egg white (only the frozen puff pastry dough will benefit from that step).

For an easy, large version of my
Mini Tarte Tatins recipe, see below... 


 "Cake Pan" Tarte Tatin!

Using the basic ingredients and method described in my recipe above, make the caramel first, layer a well-buttered 9-inch cake pan with the caramel. Arrange the apple slices prettily on top and lay the crust over it. For this recipe, use a short or sweet pastry dough crust instead of the puff pastry. If you'd like a sweet pastry crust recipe, click here for mine. Tuck in the crust with a spoon, as shown, make a few slits in the crust with knife to vent steam, and bake 40 to 50 minutes, depending on your oven. The tart is done when the top turns golden brown and the apples are cooked through. (You can test the softness of the apples with the tip of a sharp knife.) Allow to cool down before flipping onto a serving platter and...

Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
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Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit
my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
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Book #1 of 

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, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.


  1. This looks delicious! I want to try it right now!

  2. Wow, Cleo, these are gorgeous. I love caramel. And I adore apples. The combination is perfect. And the plates and presentation are so lovely you make me want to go out and buy new plates just for dessert! LOL

    ~Daryl aka Avery

  3. I am a HUGE sucker for caramel so this looks soooo good to me. thanks for all the variations too Cleo! xo Lucy

  4. What a gorgeous dessert. Your "pictures included recipes" always make me want to run right out to the market so I can make my own. Michigan had a horrible apple crop this year so we are seeing sky high prices on anything to do with apples...our daughter Emily paid $12.00 for a gallon of cider, at the orchard! But this lovely gem will make me pay the price to see my family's smiling faces. I can only imagine how wonderful the kitchen will smell :-)

    Thanks for this keeper of a recipe.


  5. So beautiful and so easy!! I'll be making these this weekend. Thanks, Cleo!!!