Upside-Down Apple Tarts

Apple Tart

Casual bakers beware…  Most of the recipes I cook are pretty simple – I have two kids, a full-time job, I don’t really have the time to spend hours in the kitchen (not that I don’t want to…).  Every once in a while I come accross a recipe that looks a little more challenging, and it ends up sitting in my pantry for months until I finally get the time to try it.  This recipe from Gourmet has been sitting in my pantry for probably a year – I actually thought it would be somewhat simple given how few ingredients there were, and that you use frozen puffed pastry. 

This was not simple.  The hard part was putting together the tarts so that the apples were overlapped, but fit around the circle.  Then after they cooked for a little while, I had to flip them over.  You definitely need a giant sized spatula to make these the way the recipe reads – which fortunately I have.  I would suggest making smaller rounds, without punching out the center.  Then layer the apples in the center – in a couple of rows so that the pastry is pretty much covered, except for a ring around the exterior.  You may need one more apple to make this work – and it would probably make 12 apple tarts instead of 8. 

Even though this was a little more time consuming than normal, I gave my girls the extra dough I had – and they made their own creations – cinnamon puffed pastry treats in all shapes and sizes.  At least we were all entertained. I must say, even though they were complicated, they were fantastic.  When they came out of the oven, the puffed pastry was nicely flaked, the pastry cream was smooth and delicious, and the apples carmelized.  It was a party in my mouth.  They suggest reheating them in a 350 degree oven for 5-10, which is fine – but nothing compared to eating them freshly baked.

Ingredients

For pastry cream:

  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits

For pastry and topping:

  • 2 pounds Golden Delicious apples (about 4)
  • 1 pound frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons water

Preparation

Make pastry cream:
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean with tip of a paring knife into a small heavy saucepan. Add pod, milk, and 3 Tbsp sugar and bring just to a boil, whisking to dissolve sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, cornstarch, remaining sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Whisk together whole egg and yolk in another bowl, then whisk in flour mixture until smooth.

Add one third of hot milk mixture to yolk mixture (to temper) in a slow stream, whisking, then add to milk mixture remaining in saucepan, whisking. Bring custard to a boil over medium heat, whisking, then boil, whisking, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

Transfer pastry cream to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with wax paper, until no longer hot, at least 30 minutes.

Make tarts:
Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Peel and core apples, then cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin 1/8 inch thick and cut out 8 (6-inch) rounds using inverted bowl or plate as a guide. Punch out center of each round with cookie cutter and transfer to baking sheets.

Discard vanilla pod and transfer pastry cream to pastry bag. Snip a 1/3-inch opening and pipe pastry cream onto pastry in a ring around center (there will be some cream left over). Arrange overlapping apple slices on pastry, covering the cream, then brush with melted butter.

Bake tarts, switching position of sheets halfway through, until edges of apples are pale golden, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together corn syrup and water until smooth.

Remove baking sheets from oven and flip each tart over with a large spatula. Generously brush pastry with some of corn syrup mixture.

Continue to bake, switching position of sheets halfway through, until pastry is shiny and golden, about 15 minutes more. Cool 10 minutes.

Serve tarts, pastry side up, warm or at room temperature.

Additional notes:

•Pastry cream can be chilled up to 3 days. Stir before using.
•Pastry can be rolled out and cut 1 week ahead and frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Do not thaw.
•Tarts can be baked 4 hours ahead. Reheat in a 350°F oven 5 to 10 minutes.

For a printer-friendly recipe, click here: Upside-Down Apple Tarts

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