There are lots of apples around at the moment (especially British) and I immediately think of making the ubiquitous Apple Pie or Apple Crumble, and my favourite, the Tarte Tatin.
If only I had a bigger freezer section in my fridge to store them for the winter months - I couldn’t fit a Cox’s Orange Pippin in there at the moment!
So I decided to make some mini Tartes Tatin, using apple halves. Surely they should fit somewhere in the freezer, if they make it that far.
I always think you should choose the right kind of apple for a Tarte Tatin. It needs to be a desert apple, crisp and firm (no Bramleys here!), sometimes sweet, sometimes tangy. And it has to stand up to the heat of the caramel when cooking. Something like a Cox’s or Braeburn, although trying find those varieties in my local supermarket is almost impossible, but get them if you see them.
So I’ve plumped for a Gala apple because that’s what I had in the fruit bowl, but it’s always on the supermarket shelves all year round.
These mini Tartes Tatin are so simple to make with the help of a muffin tin, which fits an apple half perfectly, and they taste and look great.
Making caramel can be a bit daunting, but not this way. All you need is a little patience, not something I’m blessed with, so if I can make it so can you.
Ingredients - makes 6
1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry (all butter if you can get it) 3 firm desert apples 100g soft salted butter 120g caster sugar
Cut out 6 circles of puff pastry slightly bigger than a muffin tin hole, dust with a little flour to prevent sticking, and keep in the fridge until later. (see pic 1)
Peel, core and cut the apples in half. I use a melon baller to core the apples as it gives a nice neat finish. (see pic 2) Check they fit your muffin tin and if some are slightly too big, just peel a little more apple off to size, You can do this in advance and just rub a little lemon juice over the apples to stop them going brown, although seeing they are eventually going to be brown in the caramel this doesn’t matter too much. Refrigerate until you need them.
The butter will slowly melt and the sugar will dissolve into it to form a pale syrup. There is no need to stir at this stage, just give the pan a gentle shake to make sure the butter and sugar are melting evenly. (see pic 5)
This is where your patience is needed as the butter/sugar syrup will eventually form a caramel, colouring and softening the apples along the way. This took me about 25-30 minutes to reach the desired colour of caramel I wanted. You can turn the apples and stir once the caramel is bubbling to coat them with the caramel. (see pic 6)
It is up to you how light or dark you want your caramel. The longer you cook it the darker it will become as the sugars caramelise. Although the darker it is, the more complex and bitter it becomes. I like a caramel that is mahogany in colour rather than amber, but it is a personal choice. (see pics 7 and 8)
This way of making caramel - the wet method - is easy and makes it far less likely that you will burn the sugar, as I have done before, using the dry method (sugar only).
Once you have achieved your desired caramel colour, and the apples are softer but still have a good shape, take off the heat and carefully (it will be very hot) take a spoon and lift an apple half, into a muffin tin hole with the curved side down.
Spoon over a tablespoon of caramel and repeat with the other apples. Leave to cool for about 5-10 minutes. You should have some caramel left, so just transfer to a small jug and put aside.
Place a cold pastry circle over the top of a muffin hole and press down around the side to tuck in around the apple. If the pastry is stiff, just wait a few minutes until it is pliable enough.
You can now pop theses in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them. Great for making in advance if you have friends popping in for a bite to eat, and you want an impressive pudding.
Heat the oven to 220℃/200℃ fan.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes (depending on your oven) until the pastry has puffed up and is a golden brown. (see pics 9, 10 and 11)
Run a knife around the edges of the muffin tin holes in case any have stuck, and (again carefully) invert the tin onto a baking sheet or cutting board. The easiest way is to lay a similar size cutting board (plastic or wood) over the top of the muffin tin, then holding the sides of the tin with a couple of oven gloves or tea towels, just flip it over. Wait a minute or two, giving a tap to each muffin, then slowly lift off the tin to reveal 6 perfect mahogany discs of caramelised apple sitting on a circle of puff pastry. (see pics 12 and 13)