How to Make Mini French Caramel Apple Tarts (Tarte Tatins) from Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle

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Tarte Tatins are as common in France as our apple pie. But when this upside-down French tart bakes, it creates its own delectable caramel sauce, making it impressive to serve and a treat to eat.

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

My recipe post shares a fun and foolproof mini version, the very same little treats that were mentioned in our recent bestselling Coffeehouse Mystery Dead to the Last Drop. 

Back from her culinary apprenticeship in France, Joy Allegro suggests these mini apple tarts be added to the menu of the new Jazz Space supper club that her mother Clare (our amateur sleuth) is helping to manage in Washington, DC—before she becomes a prime suspect in capital crimes of kidnapping and murder…

Click for free Recipe PDF.

To download my mini tarte Tatin recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

To continue reading this blog post, click here or on the Read More link below. And may you...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

A Note from Cleo

Legend has it, this upside-down caramel apple tart was created around 1900 by a pair of spinster sisters, who sold them to make their living. The last name of these women was Tatin, which is how the French came to name it tarte Tatin

My mini versions of this famous French tart are close to foolproof and they're great for several reasons:

(1) These elegant little treats will look amazing on your dessert plates, as if a pastry chef expertly sauced each tart with caramel. 

(2) Because they're individual servings, the recipe works for small dinner parties as well as large family gatherings. 

This dessert was also
mentioned in our 6th
Coffeehouse Mystery:
French Pressed.
To learn more about
our series of culinary
mysteries, click here.
(3) Best of all, the tarts can be prepared in advance. Simply cover your ramekins with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for up to two days before baking and serving. Just be sure you follow the recipe and toss the apple slices with lemon, which prevents them from turning brown. 

Thanks for dropping by today. May you bake with love and eat with joy! 

~ Cleo

To download a PDF of this 
recipe that you can print, 
save or share, click here.

Cleo Coyle's
Mini Tarte Tatins

Makes 6 Tarts

Filling ingredients:
3 Golden Delicious apples  
 (*See my note below on type of apple)
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons flour

Caramel ingredients:
3 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons white sugar
6 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

You will also need:
1 package frozen puff pastry shells 
  (I use Pepperidge Farms)
1 egg white (to brush puff pastry)
6 ramekins (7 to 8-oz size)
   (greased well with butter)
6 dessert plates

*The Golden Delicious variety of apple is my favorite for tarte Tatin because it holds its shape during baking and won’t turn to apple sauce when you plate the dessert. Granny Smith and Jonathan will work, as well.

Step 1 - Prepare the filling: Peel and core 3 Golden Delicious apples. Cut apples into relatively thin, even slices, about ½ inch thick. Toss the slices in a bowl with the lemon juice first, then the flour, coating them lightly. Note: The lemon prevents the apples from turning brown and the flour will absorb excess liquid released by the apples. If you skip the flour, your tarts may be watery.

Step 2 - Prepare the caramel: Grease the bottom and sides of your ramekins with butter. In a small saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the white and brown sugars and stir over low heat with a rubber spatula (to prevent sticking) until the sugars dissolve completely in the butter. The mixture will become thick. While still warm, divide the sugar mixture evenly among your 6 ramekins. Use that handy rubber spatula to even the mixture out at the bottom of each ramekin. (The mixture will harden as it cools, and that’s fine. In the oven, it will melt again into a sweet, buttery caramel glaze for your apples.

Step 3 - Prepare for baking: Divide your apple slices among the ramekins, layering them on their sides. You can bake the ramekins immediately at this point or store them by covering each ramekin with plastic wrap and placing in the fridge. (I have stored mine as long as 2 days, and they still came out beautifully.)

Step 4 - Begin baking: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap, place ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes. (You are halfway through the baking process here...)

Step 5 - Add the pastry: Remove your baking sheet of ramekins from oven and (remembering the ramekins are hot!) carefully set a fully FROZEN puff pastry shell on top of the layered apple slices of each ramekin. Brush the top of the frozen pastry with egg white. This will protect the delicate pastry and also help it turn golden brown. 

Step 6 - Finish baking:
Return ramekins to oven for another 20 to 25 minutes. Pastry is done when dough puffs up and turns golden brown and the apples are cooked through. (You can test the softness of apples with the tip of a sharp knife.) Remove ramekins from oven and set on a cool surface. Let rest for five minutes. 

Note: The resting is important because your caramel will be boiling hot and you need to let it settle down.

Step 7 - Time to plate: Remembering that the ramekins are still HOT, use oven mitts to place a dessert plate over a ramekin and carefully flip it (like pineapple upside down cake). After you flip the tart, the flaky puff pastry will be on the bottom of the plate and the buttery sweet caramel will drip down over the entire tart and pool around it on the dessert plate as if a pastry chef sauced it. If slices of apples stick to the ramekin simply use clean fingers to replace it prettily over the tart. Serve warm as is or with whipped cream or ice cream.

My "Plate is Hot!" note: I have made this recipe many times, and it's worked perfectly every time. It’s nearly foolproof, but please remember that you are working with HOT ramekins at the stage of placing pastry over the apples and again when you are flipping the ramekin for plating. Be careful! 

"No Puff" Crust...

Buttery, tender puff pastry makes a fantastic version of this dessert. However, I've made this recipe in the past with homemade sweet pastry dough, as well. You're welcome to try that version, too. Click here for my sweet crust recipe. 

For six tarts, halve my sweet pastry crust recipe, roll out the dough, cut out circles to fit the top of your ramekins and tuck them in, sealing the dough against the sides of the ramekin. Be sure to make a small slice with a knife in the top of each crust for venting steam; and DO NOT brush homemade dough with egg white (only the frozen puff pastry dough will benefit from that step).

Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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