Caramel Apple Tart


Slice of Caramel Apple TartCaramel Apple Tart is everything you would want in an apple dessert.  Full of apples, spices, brown sugar and brandy, it’s covered with walnut streusel and caramel.

So you ask, what is the difference between a pie and a tart?  The answer is essentially nothing significant.  A pie is quite often covered with a pie crust.  Tarts never are and are generally baked in fluted tart pans with removable bottoms – think quiche pan only deeper.

That’s where the streusel comes in.  Something has to go on top of the Caramel Apple Tart to keep the filling juicy.   The caramel that tops this particular tart gilds the lilly even more.  This  was a favorite with my wholesale clientele.  So much so that we would have two 24 quart containers of caramel going at once to satisfy the demand.

This well used deep dish tart pan is 30 years old and has seen thousands of tarts go through it including this Caramel Apple Tart.  I’m not sure if it is  still available which is why I took several with me when we moved.  Tart pan for Caramel Apple TartA 9″ deep dish pie pan if desired.  Follow the same directions given below.

I found a 9 3/4 x2 inch tart/quiche pan on line here.  It seems to be very close to the one I have. I also found that Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma also have some, but not sure of their sizes.  Be sure to follow the directions to hand wash and dry immediately as this is tinned steel and will rust if left wet.

There are basically two ways of making caramel.  One method is to put sugar in a pan and melt it, continuing to cook until it is the desired color.  Then butter and cream are added.  I have always been a phenomenal flop at this method.  I’m not sure if it is the pan, too high a heat or my impatience and lack of clarity that befuddles me but something does.  I usually burn the caramel with this method.  However, adding some water to the pan first and then adding the sugar helps but I still don’t use it.

The caramel we made at the shop is still my favorite.  I could eat it by the spoonful.  It uses water with the sugar and corn syrup for the first part.  Always put the water in the pan first and then the sugar to keep the sugar from absorbing the water and clumping up.  The most important part is bringing it to the correct temperature.  Too low and the caramel will be runny, too high and it will set up too hard.

The crust for this Caramel Apple tart is not an American pie crust.  Because this was made for restaurants, the crust had to hold up for a number of days under refrigeration which a normal pie crust will not do. It is not flaky at all but is tender and buttery.  It is a close cousin to the Pasta Frolla used in the  Torta Rustica.  It is a snap to make and a dream to roll out straight from the processor.  This crust is much easier to handle than an American pie crust or French Pate Brisee.  If asked, I would say this is my favorite crust for single tarts and pies.

As far as the apples are concerned, all one type can be used or you can mix them.  I am using Gala and Granny Smith apples for this tart.  At the bakery, we used Spy apples and I loved them.  However, in my market, I can’t find them.

When baking our tarts, I found that by covering them for the first part of baking and then uncovering for the last part was better than trying to cover them while hot in order to prevent the top from burning.  After baking, the tart is cooled and chilled to make applying the caramel easier.

This Caramel Apple Tart can be frozen with the caramel or without the caramel.  We sold them with the caramel already on but for home baking, I think it a better idea to freeze the baked tart without the caramel.  In any case, the tart should be thawed, preferably in the refrigerator for a day or two.  If you didn’t apply the caramel top before freezing, apply it after it is defrosted.  Remove the tart from the refrigerator hours before serving so it can reach room temperature.

This Caramel Apple Tart has parts that can be made ahead to make this easy to put together. The caramel must be made at least the day ahead and up to 10 days ahead if refrigerated.  Take it out the night before using so it can return to room temperature.

The Streusel can be made days ahead and refrigerated.  Use it straight from the refrigerator.

They don’t say apple pie is America’s favorite for nothing and this Caramel Apple Tart is right up there with the best of them.

Caramel – for how to photos, please go here
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar (300 grams or 10 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 cup 40% cream
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (105 grams or 3 2/3 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the water, sugar and corn syrup in a 2 quart or larger saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is dissolved completely. Bring to a boil; wash the sides of the pan down with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, then boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a medium golden color.

Off heat, immediately add the butter and stir until it is melted. Pour the cream in all at once and stir in. If some of the cream lumps up don’t worry. Return to medium high heat and bring to a boil. Boil to 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour into a bowl and allow to come to room temperature.

This can be made days ahead, cooled and refrigerated. Take out the night before using to soften.

Yields: 1 1/2 cups

Streusel ToppingStreusel ingredients for the Caramel Apple Tart1/2 cup walnuts (60 grams or 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons flour (17 grams or about 2/3 ounce)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (100 grams dor 3 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (30 grams or 1 ounces)

Put all in a processor bowl fitted with the steel blade or the bowl of a mixer. Streusel ingredients for Caramel Apple TartPulse to form a crumbly streusel topping. Set aside or refrigerate if making ahead.Streusel processed for the Caramel Apple TartFilling
2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced (1135 grams)
2 tablespoons brandy or lemon juice
1 cup packed brown sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
1/4 cup flour (35 grams or about 1 1/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pour the brandy or lemon juice over the apples.

Mix the remaining ingredients together  Dry ingredients for filling for the Caramel Apple Tart

Dry ingredients for filling mixed for Caramel Apple Tartand pour over the apples.  Mix well so apples are all coated.  Let rest about 15 minutes while preparing the crust.Apples mixed for the Caramel Apple Tart

CrustCrust ingredients for Caramel Apple Tart2 cups sifted cake flour (250 grams or 8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold,  cut into pieces (114 grams or 4 ounces)
1 egg
3 tablespoons cream

Place the flour and salt in a processor bowl or mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Add butter and Butter added for crust for the Caramel Apple Tartcut in until mealy and indistinguishable.Butter cut in for the Caramel Apple Tsrt Whisk the egg and cream together and Cream and egg whisked for the Caramel Apple Tartadd to the flour mixture and Liquid in processor for the Caramel Apple Tartmix or process until a smooth ball forms.  This will look powdery at first but just keep processing or mixing and it will ball up. Crust balled up for the Caramel Apple Tart

Form into a ball and flatten somewhat.  Crust ready to roll for the Caramel Apple TartRoll into a circle about 11 inches. Crust rolled out for the Caramel Apple TartFit into a 9×2 inch fluted tart shell with a removable bottom or a 9 inch deep dish pie pan. Make sure it is seated well into the corners by pulling the dough to the center and Seating crust into the pan for the Caramel Apple Tartfitting it into the shell at a 90° angle.  Seating crust for 90° angle for the Caramel Apple Tart

Crust in pan for the Caramel Apple TartRemove the excess dough by pressing with the palm of your hand on the top of the shell to cut it off.  If using the pie pan,  you may have to cut it off cleanly with a knife.  Set aside.Pressing dough off for the Caramel Apple TartFinished crust for the Caramel Apple Tart

Assembly of Caramel Apple Tart
Preheat oven to 400°F.  If using a glass pan, reduce the temperature by 25°F and adjust the time as necessary.

Line a half sheet pan or another rimmed baking pan with foil for easy clean up in case of overflow.

Fill the pastry crust with the apples, keeping the filling flat and making sure the edges of the pastry are filled.  Apples in pan for the Caramel Apple TartPour the juices that have accumulated over the apples.Juice over apples for the Caramel Apple Tart

Top the Caramel Apple Tart with the streusel.Applying streusel for the Caramel Apple Tart

Streusel on for the Caramel Apple TartTear off a piece of foil large enough to enclose the top and sides of the baking pan. Spray the dull side of the foil and cover the tart. Ready for the oven for the Caramel Apple TartBake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 35 minutes more or until apples are soft.  If the streusel darkens too quickly, lightly cover with the foil again.   Cool to room temperature, then chill.Baked Apple Caramel Tart

Finishing the Caramel Apple Tart
Finely chopped walnuts

Remove tart from the refrigerator.

Release the tart edges by making sure none of the juices from the pie filling have sealed the crust to the pan.  A pointed offset spatula makes this easy.Pointed offset spatula to release the tart for the Caramel Apple Tart

Releasing edges of the Caramel Apple Tart

Place the tart on a wide can and gently drop the sides.  Tart released for the Caramel Apple TartUse as much of the caramel as you like.  Spread caramel over top of the streusel. Spreading caramel on the Caramel Apple TartEdge with finely chopped walnuts. Nuts on edge of the Caramel Apple TartThis may be frozen at this point. Thaw in the refrigerator for 2 days.  Serve at room temperature or slightly warm but be careful not to melt the caramel.

Note:  This may be made without the caramel if desired, for an Apple Streusel Tart.








Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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18 thoughts on “Caramel Apple Tart

  1. Tim Malm

    As a friend gave me apples last night, I was thinking Apple Crostatas [again,] but your Caramel Apple Tart recipe gives me an opportunity to buy a tart pan!
    This looks like fun and sounds delicious. Thank you Helen!

  2. Hilda Willman

    Helen: As always, you take something good — apple pie — and turn it into something over the top. I would love to make it today for our Sunday family dinner, but am disappointed to read that the caramel has to set up overnight. May have to wait. Kitchen Conservatory used to carry the 9×2 tin tart pan. The website is showing only a nonstick one now. I would check with the store to see if they still carry the traditional tin one.

  3. larry sweeney

    Sorry, this is not related directly to this collections of outstanding techniques, but a request for your Ebook. I lost my copy when rebuilding my old puter. Not sure of password anymore.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Larry. I am sending it to the address here. I have always had my son switch everything over when getting a new computer and something always goes missing or I can’t find it. Happy you found dthe ebook helpful.

  4. Martha

    Dear Helen, tbanks for another great post. With Autumn weather here, I’m in the mood for an apple pie. My lack of skill with piecrust has always been an obstacle (although crumbles are delicious alternatives). With your clear instructions and this particular crust recipe, I have no excuses. Just went to my farmer nearby and have fresh eggs, crisp, sweet Robijn apples (this is another Dutch apple) and walnuts, I have to hunt down a deep dish pie pan with a removable bottom. Thank you for the info on freezing them; very useful. I remember my mother making LOTS of pies -mincemeat, apple, pumpkin – and freezing them.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Martha – If you can’t find the tart shell,use a deep dish pie pan. It won’t come out like the tart pan but will be delicious anyway.

      1. Martha

        Thank you, Helen, for this tip. I don’t have a deep dish pie pan, either – but I am going to try it in my Pyrex deep-ish pie/quiche pan. I am sure it will taste fabulous. Thanks for your inspiration.

  5. Deb

    My goodness this looks scrumptious! I can’t tell how much I look forward to your blogs. I have learned so much from your articles and the pictures help to make it so clear. Thank you!
    I do have a question. Can the pie crust for this Tart be used for a pie with an unbaked filling and if so how long would it need to be baked?

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Deb, I have used it for small petit four shells that were baked and filled with lemon curd but not used larger Not sure why it wouldn’t work. If you try it, treat it like blind baking any pie shell. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Freeze the crust. Line it with foil, fill it with beans or another weight to the top. Bake it for about 20 minutes. Remove the beans and foil and bake until golden and finished.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Lorraine – and I appreciate you letting me know I am succeeding with my goal of helping to make baking and pastry less intimidating.

  6. Nikki

    I think I have just found the perfect Thanksgiving “pie” as well as almost any other day that I can think of. I have never been fond of a regular apple pie and have always liked the “Dutch apple pies” better since they have the crumb top. To add caramel to that just guilds the lily.
    And by the way this is also the way I make caramel, never have I had it crystallize or get grainy in any way. I don’t make it often as it is so tempting :)
    Thank you again for another great recipe and AWESOME photos.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Nikki – I think you will have a happy family and guests if you serve this. I agree about the caramel. I watch the chef at the restaurant make the caramel sauce and he piles the sugar in a cast iron pan and melts it. At one stage it turns to something that looks like rock candy it is so hard and in clumps. But, to his credit, he manages to get it into a caramel sauce.

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