Preparing a Tarte Tatin in this way guarantees a crisp and flaky crust. Unlike traditional Tarte Tatin recipes, the puff pastry crust is baked separately from the caramelized apples. The basket-shaped puff pastry crust is made ahead of time and filled right before serving.
In addition to looking spiffier than the typical brown disk, I think this method is also easier and more foolproof. Unmolding a traditional Tarte Tatin can end in disaster if it decides to remain glued to the skillet. Still delicious, but not pretty.
A vol-au-vent is a hollow puff pastry shell meant to contain a sweet or savory filling. Vol-au-vents tend to be more diminutive in scale than this 8-inch tart and are usually served in appetizer or hors d’oeuvre form. French for “flight of the wind,” the puff pastry crust lives up to its name as a light and airy nest for the golden brown apples and buttery caramel.
recipe adapted from Sherry Yard’s Desserts by the Yard
Tarte Tatin in Vol-au-Vents
makes two 8-inch Tarte Tatins, about 8 servings
two 8-inch puff pastry squares, preferably all-butter
one lightly beaten egg (for egg wash)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
6 apples, peeled, split in half lengthwise, cored, and quartered
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Until I mess around with homemade puff pastry, I’ll be using Trader Joe’s all-butter puff pastry. Containing two 8-inch squares (with a bit of trimming), additional rolling is unnecessary for this recipe. Less rolling = more puff.
- The original recipe recommends Fuji apples.
Puff Pastry Crust Directions:
Preheat Oven 400ºF / 205ºC with a rack in the middle of the oven Prepare a half-sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Shape the Puff Pastry Using a paring knife, cut a 3/4-inch frame around the puff pastry, such that 2 opposing corners are still attached to the center.
Lift one unattached corner and fold to the opposing corner.
Repeat with the opposing unattached corner to finish.
Dock Using a fork, prick or dock the center of the puff pastry (Trader Joe's puff pastry comes pre-docked). Glaze Glaze the tops of the borders with the lightly beaten egg. Keep the egg wash from dripping down the sides to allow the pastry crust to fully rise in the oven. Bake 400ºF / 205ºC for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350ºF / 175ºC, rotate the baking sheet, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the puff pastry crust is well-browned. Cool Let the puff pastry crust cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
Caramelized Apple Filling Directions and Tarte Tatin Assembly:
- Make the Caramelized Apple Filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Continue cooking the butter until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the sugars evenly on the skillet. Arrange the apples in a tight circular pattern on the skillet, cut side down.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat and cook for about 12 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, turn the apples onto the other cut side and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, until the apples are a deep golden brown.
- Remove the apples, leaving the caramel in the skillet. Add the heavy cream, if using, and the lemon juice to the caramel. Lower the heat to medium-low and whisk continuously to deglaze. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the caramel is thickened and warm.
- Assemble the Tarte Tatin. Place rows of apples in the puff pastry, about eight to twelve slices for each puff pastry crust.
- Spoon the caramel over the apples or serve on the side. Slice the Tarte Tatin into serving portions and serve while still warm.