Apple Tarte Tatin

I absolutely love apple desserts: apple crumbles, apple pies, apple tarts. Saying that, it is weird that I only discovered tarte tatin when, a couple of years ago, I got a French (almost) housemate. She loves cooking too, and one evening she produced the best apple tart I had ever tasted. How had I not thought of this before? Caramelised apple tart. The perfect dessert? Possibly.

I didn’t try it to make myself though. It always seemed a bit of a faff to be honest, and everyone who made a tarte tatin on Masterchef (and Masterchef is never wrong) used some kind of fancy equipment or made it look and sound too complicated.

The other day, I had a lot of apples left and it had been a hard week, so we thought we’d cook ourselves a treat. We made some steaks and some dauphinoise potatoes and I made a tarte tatin for pudding. Well, almost. I completely underestimated how long it would take to cook, so we had brownies for pudding and I decided to finish the tarte tatin the next morning.

And this is the only thing that stops this from being the perfect recipe: it takes a while. But it’s completely worth it. Perfectly sweet and soft apples in the middle, sticky at the edges, with crumbly, buttery puff pastry at the bottom for some texture contrast.

Apple Tarte Tatin

Ingredients

6 crisp medium apples
100 gr butter, softened
100 gr caster sugar
250 gr puff pastry

Peel and core the apples and cut them in quarters. Spread the butter as evenly as possible on the bottom of a round oven-proof bowl, with a flat bottom, about 20cm in diameter. Sprinkle the sugar on the top.

Place the apples, cut side up, symmetrically around the bowl. The bottom side is going to be on the top later on, so make it as pretty as you can. When/if you run out of space, slice the rest of the quarters in 2-3 pieces and place them on top of the apples already in the the bowl. It doesn’t matter if these will look pretty as they will end up at the bottom of the tart anyway. 

Cover with foil and cook in the oven at 170 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Take the foil off and cook for another half hour, making sure the top doesn’t burn.

Roll your pastry in a circle big enough to cover the apples. Place it on top of them (I did that when mine had cooled down, not sure if it makes a huge difference but you’ve been warned) and tuck the ends inside, between the apples and the bowl. With a knife, pierce the pastry in a couple of places to make sure any steam can come out. Cook for half an hour or until the pastry is cooked.

The bottom should now be looking beautifully caramelised. Place a plate on top of the bowl (make sure you don’t burn yourself!) and quickly turn it upside down so that the pastry lands on the plate. The apples should follow.

I was a bit scared of this part but it actually worked fine, almost nothing got stuck on the bowl. Any buttery juice will end up on the pastry, making the edges really sticky. It is genius.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or some creme fraiche. I love it either warm or cold. And now that I know how to make it, it’s my new favourite dessert. It does take time, but you don’t have to do anything as your oven will do all the work. Perfect for a weekend treat or a dinner party as it is definitely a crowd pleaser.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cookies

Well, you don’t really need an excuse to bake when it’s so cold and miserable outside (or ever, in fact) but the Bonfire Night seemed like it needed a little bit of a treat to celebrate. Celebrate what? I don’t really understand why there are so many fireworks and bonfires to remember that someone tried to burn down the Houses of Parliament but failed. No one really does the same for other failed terrorist plots. Maybe it’s just too early, you don’t really want to provoke terrorists too much.

Anyway, poor Guy Fawkes has been burnt so many times that I felt that Bonfire Night deserved some kind of contribution from my part. Not really sure about what kind of food is traditionally made on this day, I just decided to make something I’ve been craving for a while, some kind of cookies with salted caramel.


Salted caramel sounds quite pretentious and it is annoyingly all over the place, having emerged as a food blogger’s favourite. I am not one to steer clear of cliches though and, to be honest, the salty-sweet combination is more common than it appears at first: brie and cranberry, meat and chutney and most of Chinese food are only a few examples! I love all of these and I think the combination of the two tastes manages to bring the best out of both of them. Did I mention Wotsits dipped in melted chocolate? Try it.

If I was a proper “foodie” (how I dislike this word!) I would make my own caramel sweets. But I’m lazy. I came back from the department late and had about 45 mins before the fireworks to make these. I used Cadbury’s caramel bites for that batch, which was not caramelly enough, and fudge bits for the one I made today, which turned out to be too sticky. Next time make your own caramels, foodie.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cookies (adapted from the Kitchenist who adapted them from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients (makes about 20 cookies)

230 gr dark chocolate
60 gr butter
100 gr flour*
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
150 gr brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup caramel chunks (toffee, caramel bits, homemade caramels etc.)
sea salt

Melt your chocolate with the butter, making sure it doesn’t burn! You can do it on the hob, in the microwave or using a bain-marie. Just do it slowly.
Whisk the eggs with the sugar and the vanilla extract until light and fluffy (in a food processor if you like) and add the melted chocolate. Add the flour mix (flour and baking powder) and mix with a wooden spoon until it’s fully incorporated. Finally, add the caramel chunks.
Place spoonfuls of the mix on baking paper and sprinkle with sea salt on the top. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 mins (maybe less, depending on how big your cookies are) at 170 degrees.

The top looks a lot like the shiny, crackly top of a good brownie and the cookies are chewy and very very chocolaty. They disappeared very quickly. By the way, I didn’t make the fireworks. I got lazy and decided to stay in, eat cookies and get drunk on beer, together with some other lazy people. Fireworks are overrated anyway.

*I made these gluten-free again by substituting the flour by equal parts of gluten-free flour, cocoa powder and ground almond for texture.

Note: I forgot to mention that they turn out better if you chill the dough first. I know many people are in the habit of doing that anyway but I’m quite lazy and impatient so I normally skip it. It really helps here!