Caramel Apple Tartlets

November 22, 2016

If you love baking, you'll love the recently published TWENTY-FIVE: Profiles and Recipes from America's Essential Bakery and Pastry Artisans, a beautiful food arts book that highlights 25 accomplished pastry chefs and bakers from around the country. This drool-worthy book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the edible creations from some of our most celebrated bakers such as Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery, Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, cronut creator Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery, Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Cupcakes, and more. The recipes included in the book have been adapted for the home baker and we're sharing some with you just in time for the holiday season.

These scrumptious Caramel Apple Tartlets from Tara Smith of Standard Baking Co. in Portland, Oregon are sure to become a fall favorite - especially for entertaining. Tara starts with her Perfect Tart Dough recipe then cuts 12 5-inch circles to fit in a muffin pan. A creamy caramel sauce is then poured into the tartlets then filled with tart, spiced apples and topped with a delicious crumbly streusel. I think they're the perfect dessert to take to any holiday party!

Caramel Apple Tartlets
Recipe by Tara Smith of Standard Baking Co., courtesy of Twenty-Five: Profiles and Recipes from America’s Essential Bakery and Pastry Artisans
Makes 12 tartlets

1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
½ teaspoon granulated sugar

6 cups peeled, cored, and sliced tart apples (about 5 medium size Granny Smith apples)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt

¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
Pinch of salt

¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Nonstick cooking spray, for the muffin cups

1. To make the tart dough, in a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it’s smooth and creamy. Reduce to low speed and add the milk, egg yolk, and sugar. Beat until the mixture is blended. At this stage, it will look curdled.

3. Add the flour mixture in small increments, mixing until a soft dough forms. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and flatten each into a disk. Wrap the discs tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

4. To make the filling, place the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt, and ½ cup of water in a large saucepan and toss together. Simmer over medium-low heat until the apples soften and begin to fall apart and the liquid reduces. This should take 1½ to 2 hours. Use a spoon to break up and crush any large apple pieces remaining. The filling should resemble a chunky applesauce. Set aside to cool.

5. To make the caramel sauce, place the sugar, corn syrup, and 1½ teaspoons of water in a small saucepan. Have the butter, cream, and sour cream measured and ready. Cook the sugar over medium heat. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash away any sugar crystals stuck to the side of the pan.

6. Cook the sugar until it reaches a medium amber color and immediately remove it from the burner. This happens very quickly after it starts to brown and continues to darken after it is pulled off the heat, so be attentive.

7. Quickly whisk in the butter. The sugar will bubble and might spatter a little. Whisk in the heavy cream and sour cream. The mixture will be smooth and creamy, but somewhat thin. It will thicken as it cools. Add the salt and set it aside to cool.

8. To make the streusel, whisk together the sugars, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Add the butter. Blend it into the flour mixture using your fingers or a pastry blender until it’s evenly moistened and resembles coarse crumbs. The streusel can be used immediately or transferred to a tightly covered storage container and kept refrigerated until ready to use.

9. To roll out and shape the tart dough, remove one disk from the refrigerator. With a rolling pin, roll out the tart dough on a lightly floured surface to ⅛ inch thick, using flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface and rolling pin.

10. Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes before cutting to prevent the dough circles from shrinking afterward.

11. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Cut the dough into 12 (5-inch) circles and line the muffin cups with the dough. Press the dough firmly into the cups and flatten out any folds, ensuring an even thickness around the edges. Refrigerate the tartlet shells in the muffin pan for at least 1 hour.

12. To fill and bake the tartlets, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Remove the prepared tartlet shells from the refrigerator. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cooled caramel sauce into the bottom of each chilled tartlet shell. Fill the shells with the apple filling, leaving a ½-inch border at the top. Top the apple filling with a heaping 2 tablespoons of streusel; you’ll have about ½ cup left over. Reserve the remaining streusel for another use.

13. Place a sheet of aluminum foil under the pan on the oven rack to catch any filling that may boil out. Bake the tartlets for 23 to 24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The pastries are done when the tart dough is lightly browned and all translucency is gone.

14. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing the tartlets. A small offset spatula or a knife works well to pull the tartlets out. Finish cooling the tartlets directly on the wire rack or serve while still warm.

From Twenty-Five: Profiles and Recipes from America’s Essential Bakery and Pastry Artisans, by Editors of Bake Magazine/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.