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Apple tarte tatin, or simply caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Making this dessert with a very French name has long been on my to-do list, ever since I saw this recipe on Orangette and Smitten Kitchen. I became even more inclined to make this apple tarte tatin after reading that Molly of Orangette had superior results making it with a particular All-Clad stainless steel pan (9 inches upper diameter across the top, 7 inches lower diameter across the bottom of the pan) – the same pan I own in my kitchen. As though having the exact same skillet was not a good enough reason to make this apple tarte tatin, my husband was set on opening a bottle of Sauternes, a French dessert wine, which pairs beautifully with a fruit-based dessert like this. By the way, Molly of Orangette suggests serving this dessert with a glass of Tokaji, an excellent Hungarian sweet wine. Both types of wine are great options.

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

I’ve made this recipe twice now, first as originally described, with apples only. Second time, I added whole strawberries, which not only made a beautiful presentation, but also added a completely new spectrum of flavor to the caramel apples.   Apple tarte tatin is absolutely my new favorite fruit dessert.

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

What makes this dessert very special is that the apples and the strawberries are cooked on medium-high heat in sugar and butter (caramel sauce) for about 20 minutes.   The apples absorb the caramel flavor, and, because you cook them on high enough heat, any extra moisture produced by the apples while they are cooking evaporates. Also, as you cook on high heat, the caramel sauce darkens and thickens alongside the apples. While you cook apples and strawberries for 20 minutes on medium-high heat, make sure to not to overcook the apples – they should still be somewhat firm after these 20 minutes of cooking in caramel sauce, because you will still have 30 minutes of baking time ahead with the puff pastry on top.

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Not only does this dessert smells good while you’re cooking, it’s delicious, goes well with fruity wines, and looks quite presentable.

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Prep time: 1 hour 30 min

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and also newer version of this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and also Orangette.

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 large apples, I used Gala apples
  • 1 cup whole strawberries
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/3 cups and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 sheet puff pastry

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and quarter the apples, toss the apple quarters in a large bowl with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 20 minutes to release the juices. In a separate bowl, toss strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar, let them sit for 20 minutes as well.

2) Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in an oven-proof skillet.  I used an All-Clad stainless steel pan (9 inches upper diameter across the top, 7 inches lower diameter across the bottom of the pan). Add 1 cup of sugar and 3-4 tablespoons of apple-lemon juices. Cook the mixture on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes, until mixture thickens, becomes smooth, and turns pale caramel color. In other words, when you transfer the spoon with the caramel mixture to the plate – the caramel coating the spoon should harden around the spoon almost immediately.

3) At this point, remove the skillet from the heat. Add apple quarters, arranging them rounded-side down in a decorative pattern in a circle along the side of the skillet. Top the apples with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, sliced. Cook the apples over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, occasionally spooning the bubbling caramel liquid over them. You can also move apples around and then place them back in the same decorative pattern.

4) Add strawberries in the middle of the pattern and continue cooking both strawberries and apples for 15-20 more minutes on medium high heat, constantly stirring the liquid, pouring it over apples and strawberries, until the caramel sauce reduces and thickens. The sauce will be boiling with bubbles and should turn thick and of darker color. When you place some of that liquid on the spoon, it should be pretty thick and not runny. Remove the skillet from the heat, let the liquid stop bubbling. A thick dark (but not too dark) caramel sauce should be completely coating the apples and the strawberries. At this point, it’s ready to be placed in the oven. Apples should be slightly firm, not be too soft and the liquid should not turn dark brown.

Note: while you cook apples and strawberries in the sauce, strawberries especially produce a lot of liquid, so make the caramel sauce reduces to a thick consistency that’s not runny.

5) On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry sheet and cut out a circle about 10 inches in diameter, about 1/2 inch wider all around than the skillet. Make 4 cuts in the pastry for breathing during baking. Place the puff pastry circle over the apples and the strawberries in the skillet, tucking the overlapping portion down between the apples and the inside of the pan.

6) Place the skillet in the oven, and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the pastry has puffed up, and is dry and golden brown. Remove the skillet from the oven, and let it to rest for a minute or two. Place a serving platter upside-down over the skillet and invert the tart onto the platter. Be very careful not to burn yourself as the skillet is very hot. Rearrange any apple slices that may have slipped or stuck to the skillet.

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Peeling and quartering apples

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Let apples and strawberries sit in lemon juice and sugar for 20 min

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Cook caramel until it bubbles and continue cooking on medium heat

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Caramel is getting thicker

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Caramel is getting even more thicker, but not dark yet

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

See how caramel coats the spoon?

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Place apple quarters rounded side down on the bottom of the pan with caramel sauce

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

See how caramel bubbles when you cook it?

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Apples cooking in caramel sauce

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Add whole strawberries in the middle of the skillet

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Cook both apples and strawberries in caramel sauce on medium high heat

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

The caramel sauce should be covering apples and strawberries as it cooks down

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Use one sheet of store-bought puff pastry

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Place 1 sheet of puff pastry over apples and strawberries

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Make 4 holes in puff pastry for breathing

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

After baking for 35 minutes, the puff pastry should turn golden brown and puff up – remove it from the oven

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Apple tarte tatin just removed from the oven

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

This is what apple tarte tatin looks like before you invert it onto the serving plate

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

Apple tarte tatin, or caramel apple tart, with strawberries

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{ 31 comments… add one }

  • Simone March 17, 2013, 12:53 am

    Ooo, that just looks like perfection. I love the addition of the strawberries in the middle! I’ve eaten many tarte tatins but for some reason have never made one myself. Don’t know why… And I think I’m gonna just have to change it after seeing yours.

  • Suzanne perazzini March 17, 2013, 2:05 am

    This looks so delicious and pretty. I wish I could still eat such delights and but I can still appreciate its beauty.

  • Acacia March 17, 2013, 2:06 am

    It looks wonderfully traditional, and has a delicious fruity look!

  • Denise Browning@From Brazil To You March 17, 2013, 5:45 am

    What a mouth-watering, gorgeous apple tarte tatin, Julia! I liked it so much that I am pinning it…

  • Monique March 17, 2013, 6:36 am

    What a great pictorial/tutorial..Julia..I love the idea of adding strawberries..I never have~
    Love your photos.. sharp..but real:)

  • Laura Dembowski March 17, 2013, 12:49 pm

    I have always wanted to make tarte tatin too. The addition of strawberries is so unique and sounds great! I have never seen a recipe that added strawberries before. Very creative!

  • Amanda March 17, 2013, 1:08 pm

    Wow – this looks fantastic – and gorgeous pictures!!

  • Ari @ Ari's Menu March 17, 2013, 2:57 pm

    Julia, this is BEAUTIFUL!! It just…glistens! It’s totally not something I would normally make, but now I’m wondering why the heck not!

  • Aunt Clara @ Aunt Clara's Kitchen March 17, 2013, 5:51 pm

    Perfection! Can I come over and try yours?

  • Barbara March 17, 2013, 5:52 pm

    Such a lovely photo of a gorgeous-looking tart, Julia! Love the idea of adding strawberries to it…clever you! :) Don’t you just love the ease of using packaged puff pastry? Everything looks so elegant and who’d know?

  • john@kitchenriffs March 17, 2013, 6:13 pm

    Nice take on a traditional recipe! Those strawberries look sensational. And both Tokaji, and Sauternes are such lovely dessert wines – served with this, they’d be sensational. Good stuff – thanks.

  • Liz March 17, 2013, 6:59 pm

    I’ve made both an apple and peach version and now I MUST try it with strawberries!!! SO beautifully done!!!

  • Darina March 17, 2013, 8:53 pm

    This looks fantastic. I’ve been meaning to make a tarte tatin for so long. You’ve inspired me to find some time to do so.

  • Elizabeth @ SugarHero.com March 18, 2013, 1:10 am

    Lovely! I actually just made and blogged about a pear tarte tatin last week–it must be the season for cooked fruit and puff pastry! I love the addition of the strawberries and will have to give that a try next time!

  • Christine @ Cooking Crusade March 18, 2013, 3:33 am

    Tarte tatin is such a beautifully elegant dessert and you definitely did it justice, especially with the addition of the strawberries. Yum!

  • Ashley March 18, 2013, 9:05 am

    This sounds delicious! It’s so beautiful too … almost too pretty to eat! : ) Love the addition of strawberries – they are my favorite!

  • Jenn and Seth March 18, 2013, 11:08 am

    this is gorgeous!! sounds absolutely wonderful :)

  • Frank @ Kraemers Culinary Blog March 18, 2013, 5:58 pm

    Great idea to use strawberries. A few years ago I made this dessert with pineapple. This dessert looks fantastic. I wish I could have a piece now.

  • Yelena March 18, 2013, 6:09 pm

    My kind of dessert, sweet and I like addition of serving the wine -) Beautiful!

  • Rosa March 19, 2013, 1:05 am

    What a wonderful combination! Your tatin looks really divine.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • Magda (@MagdasCauldron) March 19, 2013, 2:22 pm

    It looks scrumptious! Like a jewel rather than a cake. Beautiful. And I love Tokaji, I haven’t drink it for a while. There is nice bar in Krakow where they serve nice Tokaji, but they don’t serve Tarte Tatin! But I will remember to buy it when I plan to make the tart.

  • Nancy /SpicieFoodie March 19, 2013, 4:09 pm

    What a gorgeous and elegant tart! Thanks for sharing and making my mouth water.

  • Jacqueline March 20, 2013, 8:33 am

    I looks stunning and I love the idea of adding strawberries. Inspired! Roll on strawberry season here in Scotland, although goodness knows what all this late snow will mean for the strawberries.

  • Noel Lizotte March 20, 2013, 10:51 am

    Beautiful presentation! Delicious sounding combinations! Nice Job, Julia, you’ve done it again!

  • Katie March 20, 2013, 2:45 pm

    Julia,
    The lighting in these photographs just make this tart glow! My mouth instantly started watering when I saw them. I love the simplicity of the ingredient list too. It is great that you can pull off such an elegant result with such simple natural ingredients. Great idea!

  • Monet March 20, 2013, 6:38 pm

    The addition of the berries is such a lovely twist on a classic french dessert. I can’t stop looking at these pictures–drool worthy! Thank you so much for sharing. I have had a long day…and I needed something sweet to cheer me up. I hope you are well. Enjoy the rest of your week. Happy Spring!

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com March 20, 2013, 8:11 pm

    Oh my lordy. That’s perfection!! I love the added strawberries. Makes for a cute presentation :)

  • Jill March 21, 2013, 7:51 am

    I love the idea of strawberries in this classic French dessert! I bet the wine was wonderful with it.

  • Tash March 22, 2013, 8:29 am

    I spent some time in the Auvergne with a French chef (my BFF’s father) and I must say, watching him make a tartes aux pommes was a delight. Seeing this, the upside-down version, makes me smile because I, in my stilted French, asked whether he was intending to make the famous tarte tatin and with a lot of gesticulating he showed me how he would be making a tartes aux pommes instead. He also told me the proper way to make a quiche Lorraine, too. It was just about one of the best months of my life, I think! It’s a beautiful place to visit; not at all touristy and the French are far more accommodating than in the more metropolitan areas.

    Strawberries, eh? I would never have thought about putting them into a tarte tatin. How did you find the texture of the strawberries? It looks absolutely lovely. The only thing that could possibly make it better is creme fraiche and a view of Le Puy in the distance ;-)

  • Sandra September 28, 2013, 2:47 pm

    Just looking at your pictures has my mouth watering. The apple tarte and cherry slab pie are for sure to be mad in my kitchen!

  • Yelena October 9, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Julia, your tarte looks so tempting! Sweet and sticky-)

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