My friend Vanessa gave me these beautiful apples from her CSA box. I was surprised that apples are still growing this time of the year in the Pacific NW. They were perfectly crunchy and tart and just begging to be baked into something delicious! Since Valentine’s day is right around the corner, I opted to do something fitting for the season – Salted Caramel Apple Tartlets.
I also got a new toy this weekend. Something I’ve been wanting for quite a while… A mandoline! And, I LOVE it! These nifty tools slice, julienne and make waffle cuts. They slice REALLY thin. I decided that these apples would be the perfect vehicle to put my new tool to the test. Layers of apple arranged to look like little rosebuds. The slices need to be extra thin so that they are pliable enough to wrap around each other.
The crust is not overly sweet, lightly flavored with almond extract, and perfectly flaky – A bit like a shortbread. It comes together easily using your stand mixer, or by hand. Par bake the crusts to get them crispy and golden. They’re then topped with a glorious salted caramel sauce. To kick it up a notch, I spiked the caramel sauce with a splash of apple brandy which I had leftover from these yummy Harvest Moon cocktails. A little splash never hurts, right?
I’m not gonna lie, arranging the apples can be a bit of a challenge. It takes some time, but the caramel helps to hold your “flower” in place. Simply keep adding more slices around and around the bud that you form. It’s very forgiving. Once your clusters are finished, bake for a bit longer, then top the warm tartlets with some extra caramel, and let cool a bit. Serve alongside some vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy!
- Pastry Dough
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1¾ cups pastry flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- pinch of salt
- Apple Filling
- 3-4 apples
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ¾ cup salted caramel sauce (I added a splash of Applejack brandy)
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract and mix well. Slowly add in the flour and mix until just combined.
- Roll the dough into a ball and place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten the ball into a disc, wrap with the plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm.
- When ready to use, unwrap your dough and place it on a floured surface. Roll the dough to a thickness of ⅛ inch. Using your tart tins as a guide, cut circles that are about 1 inch wider than the tins. I used a small mixing bowl to make the cut. Press the dough into your tart tin. Pass your rolling pin over the top of the tin to trim the extra dough. Alternatively, you can skip the rolling pin and simply press the dough into your tins (skip the fridge if using this method).
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the tart shells in the freezer for 15 minutes while your oven preheats. Using a fork, poke holes in bottom of the tart shells. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Cut your apples in half lengthwise and remove the core. Using the thinnest setting of a mandolin, slice the apples and place in a microwave safe bowl.
- Combine the sugar and lemon juice, and pour over your apples. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to slightly soften the apples.
- Cover the bottoms of your tart shells with 1-2 tablespoons of the salted caramel and then begin to roll your apples. I started with one slice, and rolled it into a tight cylinder. I then took additional slices and continued wrapping them around each other until the bundle was about a quarter sized width. I then placed that into carmel coated tart and added more apples, layering the edges. The caramel helps hold the apples in place. Continue until your tart is fully covered.
- Return the tarts to the 350 degree oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and drizzle with the remaining salted caramel sauce.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.