Showing posts with label apple tart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apple tart. Show all posts

Friday, March 6, 2015

Apple-Pear Tart

by Sheila Connolly

I won the book The Spirit of Christmas (Book 6) in a holiday drawing, and during our seemingly endless round of snowstorms (hush—it may not be over yet) I gave in to my urge to bake, so I decided to try this recipe.

But there was another reason: during the peak of the storm cycle, when the snow was, oh, four or five feet high in my yard, I looked out the kitchen window one morning and saw a single apple sitting on the snow. No footprints anywhere nearby. No dents or grooves to suggest that it had been tossed there. Perfectly straight, its stem at the top, all by itself on the pristine snow. I took it as a sign—of what, I’m not sure. So I baked an apple tart.

As you may notice, this is a no-roll crust (hallelujah!). It also contains graham crackers and orange juice. It’s actually quite tasty, and the dough easy to handle (it's a keeper!).

Apple-Pear Tart


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 Tblsp frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs


2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2-2/3 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla


4 tsp cornstarch
1 Tblsp water
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples and/or pears

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolk, concentrate and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour and cracker crumbs and knead in the bowl until a soft dough forms.

Press into a 9”x9” tart pan (yup, it’s my favorite Irish one again—it’s getting a lot of use!) with a removable bottom. Prick the crust with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a rack.

The filling is basically custard. I was worried that it wouldn’t gel enough to be able to slice the cake pieces, but after a night in the refrigerator it worked just fine.

In a medium pan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Slowly stir in the cream and cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook 2-3 minutes or until it thickens.

Stir about 1/2 cup of the cream mixture into the beaten eggs (so they don’t scramble!), then add the eggs and vanilla to the pan and whisk. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Let cool to room temperature and pour into the cooled crust. (See why this is a good recipe for a snowbound day? You have to cool each part before you combine them.)

For the topping, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir to form a paste.

In a medium saucepan, combine the wine and the sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (don’t worry—the alcohol evaporates with the cooking). Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the wine mixture.

Stir in the chopped fruit. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook 5-8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat.

Spread the fruit mixture evenly on top of the filling. Cover the pie and refrigerate for at least one hour (I did it overnight, and the cake unmolded without a hitch).

Remove from the pan to serve.

I think if I make it again, I will add some freshly grated orange peel to the topping to brighten up the flavor, at least if I’m using apples. With pears, you might want to try a different spicing, or a different wine. And I have a blood orange in my fridge, that I was tempted to use. Feel free to experiment!

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By the way, it's been snowing in Ireland this year as well. (But not in the book!)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Tart

Welcome to Thanksgiving week at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! Have you seen our Savor the Season page? It's an amazing collection of our seasonal recipes. There's something for every taste.

This recipe started with Williams Sonoma. Yes, it's their fault for putting a fabulous picture of a Salted Caramel Apple Pie in their catalog. It was piled high and gorgeous. I couldn't get it out of my mind. I like apples. I like salted caramel. I like pie! But there wasn't a recipe.

So I went in search of recipes. Most of them are pretty much the same. They make caramel, add salt to it and pour it over the apples in the pie. I liked the idea of salting the caramel separately, so that was how I did it, but I would guess there's not a whole lot of difference.

My searching led me to an online conversation between chefs. Someone complained that the top crust gets too much heat while the bottom doesn't cook. Oh my, the suggestions! Put a tray underneath, put a pre-heated tray underneath, no tray at all, use a black pie pan, use a tray with a rack so there's air flow, and on and on. The interesting thing was that, just like us, they all had ideas and opinions, but there's not one way to do things.

It's like a cave in there!
In the end, though, while the pie was beautiful, it had problems. It didn't particularly taste like salted caramel. It tasted like apple pie. Maybe in a side-by-side taste test one could tell the difference but it wasn't worth all the steps and trouble to make. It also had a hole. America's Test Kitchen wrestled with this issue and recommended their pie crust but said something about it not cutting particularly well.

While I don't think it has to be perfect, I wasn't happy enough with the pie to recommend it for your Thanksgiving dinner.

I moved on. If I wasn't getting the caramel flavor that I sought from pie, maybe a tart would be a better idea. I have to admit that the tart took a lot less time and involved fewer steps, always a good thing.

I used sweet Fuji apples for the tart because that was what they had in my store. I trust Sheila will know what I should have used, but a tour of the countryside in search of apples wasn't on the schedule.

I made the buttery pastry in the food processor and added a dash of vodka to reduce the gluten production when worked and keep the crust soft and flaky. It came together nicely but required an hour of rest in the fridge. There's nothing magic about this particular pastry, so feel free to use your favorite.

Channels of caramel!

When I make this again, I might not bother to make the apples stand up. I suspect you'll get much prettier results if you lay the slices in circles, allowing them to overlap slightly. If you choose to make them stand, like I did, please expect them to lean once they soften through baking. The tart still looks pretty, and I do rather like the channels of caramel. Note that I didn't spread the caramel on the bottom to the edge to reduce the likelihood of it swimming away out of the pan.

In the end, I liked this much, much better than the pie. You can really taste the caramel, and when you get a flake of salt on top – oohlala! Please note that it's quite sweet. After being refrigerated, the caramel firmed up enough for it to cut quite nicely. You can make this a day ahead of time, which I always think is a major plus.

Salted Caramel Apple Tart


1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon vodka
1 large egg

Place dough blade in food processor and add flour, salt, and butter. Pulse until it looks like ground cornmeal, scraping the sides a couple of times. Add vodka, pulse, then add the egg and pulse until it forms a ball. Refrigerate for at least an hour.


1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a microwave-safe container that can hold at least 2 cups (it will bubble up). Microwave in short bursts from 20 - 50 seconds, stirring each time until it bubbles up and the sugar is dissolved.


5-6 large apples

Peel, core, and slice apples. I sliced each quarter apple into six slices. Don't cut them too thin.

Sugar Topping (Optional)

I wasn't quite sure how this would turn out, so I used this paste on top of it.* Honestly, I think you can skip this step because the caramel adds enough sweetness.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cups sugar
good pinch salt

Blend together into a lumpy paste.


Malton's shaved salt

A few pinches of salt will be used in the assembly.


Preheat oven to 425. Insert a baking sheet on a rack underneath the middle rack to catch any overflowing juices.

Grease the tart pan, especially the sides so they will release nicely.

Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough. Lay it over the tart pan and gently press into place. If something tears, just nip off a bit of the extra dough and press it in place. No one will see it.

Place one layer of apples around the side, overlapping them slightly. Pour about 1/4 cup of the caramel over the pastry in the middle of them and spread with the back of a spoon. Lick spoon and place in dishwasher.

Add the remaining apples in circles, inserting them just a bit between the edges of the apples in the previous row. When it gets too tight to add more apples in circles, place three or four slices in the center together. Go back to the first row and insert more apple slices in any gaps.

Bake at 425 for 20 - 25 minutes. Meanwhile mix the butter and sugar into a paste.*

Remove tart from oven and lower heat to 325. Sprinkle the paste over the tart and return to oven. Bake another 25 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

When cool, microwave the remaining caramel 10 - 20 seconds to make it thinner. Drizzle over the cool tart. Sprinkle a generous pinch or two of salt over the top. Loosen the sides gently and remove the outer edge before refrigerating. Refrigerate tart until serving.

If you have a tear or a hole, patch it with a scrap of pastry.

Start at the outside when adding apples.

Spread some caramel on the bottom.

Add the rest of the apples.

The apples will relax as they bake.

It cuts very nicely for serving.

Mmm. Now that tastes like caramel!

Coming December 2nd!

To celebrate, we're each giving away book this week! I'll be giving away the winner's choice of 
In addition, the winner will receive one etched glass Wagtail Mountain mug!

To enter, please leave a comment
 (click on the word COMMENT a few lines below)
 by midnight Wednesday November 26th.
Don't forget to include your email address
 so I can contact you. 
Good luck and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Apple Cream Cheese Tart

by Sheila Connolly

As you might guess, I love apples. I love cooking with apples, both sweet and savory recipes.  I love eating and growing apples.

Recently I've been finding some wonderful antique items relating to apples.  The first was an apple peeler, made in Leominster in 1882.  (Leominster is where my very distant cousin Johnny Appleseed came from, and there's still an orchard there that belonged to his family.)  There are plenty of modern peelers available, and they usually follow the same principle:  there's a base, a prong that holds the apple in place, and a gear and handle to advance the apple against a blade, removing the peel and (optionally) slicing it.

The one I found is different.  As far as I can tell (I haven't tested it), the apple remains stationary, and the blade moves around it.  Or maybe they both move at the same time, in different directions.  Guess what—19th century equipment doesn't come with instruction manuals!

But my favorite find was a small apple press.  I saw one of these more than a year ago in an antique shop, but it cost more than I wanted to pay.  I never forgot it, though, and recently I decided to check eBay for one like it.  Oh joy!  There were many, at an absurd range of prices.  And when you're dealing with a cast-iron device, shipping is not a small item.

But apparently it was meant to be:  I found one vendor who had the press at a price less than that antique store, including shipping.  And now it's mine!  I'm still trying to work out how it would have been used (not the mechanics, which are simple enough:  put apples in perforated metal container, lock the top, and turn the crank; apple juice comes out the bottom).  It holds four quarts of raw apples, but I'm guessing you get only a pint or two of juice.  That makes it a kitchen appliance (a theory supported by the pretty painted decoration).  If you want your cider absolutely fresh and unadulterated, this is the solution.

But I digress.  I love apple pie, but I'm crust-challenged: I just can't make one.  In this household, my husband makes the pie crusts. Luckily I found a recipe that doesn't involve more than squishing the crust into a pan. Then you add a thin layer of cream cheese filling and your apples.



Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

½ cup salted butter
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

In a food processor, put all the ingredients and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.  Press the crumbs into an 8 or 9-inch springform pan, and push the crumbs up the side for about an inch (it doesn't have to be perfect).  Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden.  Remove it from the oven.

Cream Cheese Filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla, until smooth. 

Apple topping:

3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced (find good cooking apples—Cortland or Golden Delicious work well because they soften without losing their shape)
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup sugar

Toss the ingredients together in a bowl.

The tart shell does not need to be cooled before you add the cream filling and spread it over the bottom.  Then arrange the apple slices over the top. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the apples are cooked (you can poke a slice with the point of a knife to check).

You might want to add a glaze (a little clear apricot or apple jelly, thinned with water) to pretty up the tart, or you could sprinkle it with coarse sugar (caster or Demerara sugar) and/or nuts.



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
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.