Puff Pastry Apple Tarts with Homemade Caramel Sauce

In Casa Dawmilam, we call this dessert “little apple pillows of happy.” And Dave’s face lights up when he realizes I’ve made it.

That is a puff pastry apple tart with homemade caramel and ice cream. Mmmm.

It’s a fancy sounding dessert that is really easy and surprisingly cheap. I invented the tart part of the dessert one night on a whim when I had about a half of a leftover apple and wanted to use it instead of tossing it. On that same night, all I could think was, “I bet something with this apple and caramel would be soooo good.” That was also the night I made caramel sauce for the first time. I’m now addicted to it and bet you will be, too. Let’s just cut to the recipes.

Puff Pastry Apple Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough (store bought; the only brand I can ever find is Pepperidge Farm. It’s in the freezer section, usually near the frozen fruit). Make sure to thaw it out.

1 small apple, cored and diced (I leave the peel on because I’m lazy)

some brown sugar (you expect me to measure this stuff? maybe around 3 tablespoons?)

some cinnamon (couple of dashes out of the can)

a little, tiny bit of freshly grated nutmeg (just a smidge; did you know too much of it is poisonous?)

about 1 teaspoon all purpose flour and more for dusting/rolling the dough

juice of a lemon (or just half the lemon if it’s a really juicy lemon)

one egg

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a silpat on a baking dish. Or, just spray a cooking sheet with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Prepare the filling. Combine your diced apple with the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice. Stir together. Set aside.

Prepare an egg wash. Crack open an egg into a teacup or small bowl. Add a splash of water. With a fork, break up the egg and combine it with the water.

After your puff pastry dough has thawed out (supposedly you’re supposed to leave it at room temp for 45 minutes. Or… zap that baby in the microwave on low power – 20% maybe? – for 1-2 minutes. I just saved you 45 minutes of waiting around on your dough to thaw. You’re welcome), dust a clean surface with flour and gently roll out the dough to iron out the creases left from being folded up. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into thirds, then cut each third into another third or a quarter, whatever you feel like. Then, spoon a small amount of the apple filling onto the center of each square. Fold the rest of the dough over onto itself, making either a triangle or a rectangle – whatever you can get to work. To get the dough to stick together and ensure the filling doesn’t run out everywhere, dip your finger in the egg wash, spread it on one side of the dough, and press the other side to adhere it. Sometimes this is tricky, so just do your best. Repeat for each of your puff pastry squares.

Before placing in the oven, take a sharp knife and cut a little hole in the top of each puff pastry folded over square/rectangle/triangle. This allows steam to escape. You can make a pretty little design if you’re feeling fancy. I generally just make an “X” or two little parallel lines because it’s hard to draw on puff pastry with a knife. And, I’m lazy.

Then, brush the remaining egg wash on top of the pastries. Use a pastry brush if you have it. If not – your hands will work just fine. If you’re feeling really fancy, sprinkle some plain sugar on top of the pastries at this point.

Cook until the puff pastry is golden brown on top, about 12-15 minutes depending on your oven and the puff pastry brand.

These keep really well in the fridge for at least a week. They never last longer than that at my house. But, they aren’t really complete without the two special toppings. One of which is:

Homemade Caramel Sauce

This isn’t my recipe, but it is one I found in the  Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipes book (this is one of my can’t live without cookbooks; well worth the money). Caramel sauce is freaky and scary, sort of like doing a science experiment that could burn the crap out of you. Badly. So proceed with caution.

In a large, nonstick saucepan (yes, large. trust me. also trust me on the nonstick part.) combine 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water. They say not to ever stir it, but I always stir at first to help it come together. Cover and place over high heat until it comes to a boil. Remove cover and place a candy thermometer in the pan. Boil over medium-high heat until it comes to a temperature of 350 degrees (sure, you can forego the candy thermometer. Just cook until the molten sugar turns a dark amber color, and it smells about like cotton candy. Should be about 10 minutes. I’m a little too neurotic to just let it go at that. I have to keep the thermometer in.) While the sugar is boiling, heat up 1 cup of heavy cream on the stove – just let it simmer to warm up. No need to bring it to boiling.

As soon as your sugar is at 350 degrees, turn off the heat and pour in about half the cream. Stand back. It will explode in a violent chemical reaction that will be scary. Keep small children, pets, the elderly, and accident prone adults away. When the initial eruption is over, add the rest of the cream, and begin to whisk together to combine. Eventually, the simmering will settle, and you’ll have a beautiful caramel sauce on your hands. Add in about 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and whisk again.

MMMMM. I want some right now.

This stuff keeps really well in the fridge, and it thickens up as it gets cold. Just keep it in an airtight container. Reheat by the spoonful and add on to ice cream, in coffee, or eat it straight up. Not that I do that or anything. You’ll never, ever buy jarred, mass-produced caramel sauce again. And if you do, you’ll eat it with a sad face, because you know better.

Ice Cream 

Here’s the deal: I am an ice cream addict. My parents started a late-night ice cream habit with me when I was very small, and it continues to this day. I eat ice cream almost every night after dinner. True story. It’s a serious problem.

My absolute FAVORITE vanilla ice cream is Stonyfield Organic Gotta Have Vanilla. Ice cream. Not frozen yogurt. So go splurge & get yourself some of that to go on top of this dessert to add a layer of decadence to it. Of course, you can add whatever vanilla ice cream you have on hand and it’ll be just fine. But if you need a new vanilla ice cream to fall in love with: go for the Stonyfield.

Enjoy your sugar coma!


One thought on “Puff Pastry Apple Tarts with Homemade Caramel Sauce

  1. Brother Brent eats ice cream every night, too! He eats his out of a mug. Do you? I think it’s weird.

    Thanks for the caramel recipe. Yummo. I want those pillows of yummy now 🙂

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