I’m currently in love with this Caramelized Apple Puff Pastry Tart because it looks more impressive and is healthier than it appears. Puff pastry and apricot jam are the secrets to keeping this easy (yes, you really can make this in 30ish minutes) AND on the lower end of the sugar spectrum (while still being delicious). Unlike some desserts where apples are supposed to be the main feature but take a back seat to other components, these apples are seriously front and center.
Like a few recipes (primarily baking ones), sometimes it takes me two seasons to really nail it. I made this tart several times last fall and had a working recipe, but wasn’t totally in love with it enough to post it. While I was obsessed with how it looked, the texture of the apples didn’t match up. They became a bit dry and didn’t have as much flavor as I had hoped.
After many trials this season, I’m happy to say I’ve nailed it. In fact, this tart is dangerously good. I made it every day for 6 days straight to finalize all the details and tricks in this recipe. For most recipes, I’d space out my trials. The fact that I didn’t says a LOT about this recipe in terms of both taste and how easy it is to make. Don’t make it without some guests unless you’re ready to eat the whole thing on your own (I say this first hand).
Behind the Recipe: Caramelized Apple Puff Pastry Tart
After my trials last fall, I came with a slightly new perspective on the dough component. First, I knew I wanted to replace making pie dough with using puff pastry. Pie dough can a bit finicky and takes time (especially when accounting for the fact that is has to rest in the fridge). Over the past year, I’ve become enamored with puff pastry. It tastes UNREAL (seriously I can’t get enough of its buttery flakiness) and is much quicker/easier than making your own pie dough. It’s also unlike pie dough in that you truly can find a high-quality store-bought puff pastry so making your own isn’t necessary. My personal favorite is Dufour because it uses butter like in traditional homemade puff pastry (and a lot of other store bought puff pastry use other additives/ingredients).
One consideration- while puff pastry can be easy, it can also become a mess if you don’t know what you’re doing. Be sure to see my tips/tricks with working with puff pastry below.
Second, I moved to use jam as the second layer to add body and moisture to the tart. I originally used apple butter, but couldn’t get my hands on it this fall. While I guess I could have made it, the point of this tart was that it could truly be made in 30 minutes with no extra work or components.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it forced me to use something else to provide moisture and flavor. I experimented with a few different jams- primarily a fig jam and apricot jam. After a few trials and taking a tip from Claire Saffitz in her own apple tart, I favored apricot jam because it’s a bit more neutral of a flavor. It also doesn’t add as much color, whereas the fig jam turned out a bit dark and almost looks burnt.
Keep it simple here and make sure to use a firm apple meant for baking. I personally love Empire apples for this one when just going by taste. See more tips on exactly what apples to use for the ombre effect below.
A sprinkling of turbinado sugar- a coarser grain sugar- adds a lot here. It both caramelizes on top and adds texture to make these apples feel more decadent.
Tips in Apple Slices & Ombre
- Use apples of similar size. It’s a bit harder when you’re using different varieties, but the closer in size your apples are, the more cohesive and better it will look. Try your best to get the same size throughout (I generally go for smaller than larger ones).
- Get 3-4 different hues. I’ve always used local apple varieties at the market so the names are somewhat specific, but I usually go for a green, yellow, orange/light red, and dark red. At the store, this might look something like a Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Gala/Honeycrsip, and Fuji/Red Delicious.
- Slice the apples by using a specific technique. Instead of using a rock motion like I normally do, I drag my knife through and always keep the tip of the knife on the board. Slice as thinly as you can and keep the apple together so it’s easy to just fan out, rather than trying to rearrange apple slices.
- There are many different ways to arrange the apples- either grouping like colors together like an ombre effect OR by mixing them around.
Tips for Puff Pastry
- Make sure to defrost in the fridge.
- Keep it COLD.
- Have everything out and ready to go.
- Don’t be afraid to put it back in the freezer/fridge to cool down for a second.
- Don’t roll it out too much.
- Use a fork to punch holes so it doesn’t puff up like crazy.
- Place in the freezer for 10ish minutes before baking to keep its shape a bit more.
- If you can, buy a butter-based dough.
Caramelized Apple Puff Pastry Tart
- 7 oz sheet puff pastry, (I love the dufour brand- 7 oz is half a sheet)
- 3-4 small apples, , sliced very thinly
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam, , divided
- 1 tablespoon fig jam
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, (optional)
- pinch salt
- 3/4 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons apricot jam, fig jam, cardamom, and salt.
- Gently roll out puff pastry just a bit. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle with arrowroot. Spread jam mixture onto puff pastry in a very thin coat, leaving a 1/2’’ border on the outside.
- Fan out apple slices just slightly and arrange tightly onto puff pastry. See below for help.
- Place puff pastry with apples in freezer for 10 minutes.
- Combine remaining tablespoon of apricot jam with unsatled butter and microwave (about 15s) until slightly warmed (it should be spreadable but not liquid). Lightly brush onto apple slices as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake pastry until golden brown, about 25 minutes at 400.Let cool until jam has set, about 10 minutes, before serving.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons apricot jam, fig jam, cardamom, and salt. Assemble:
3. Gently roll out puff pastry just a bit. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle with arrowroot. Spread jam mixture onto puff pastry in a very thin coat, leaving a 1/2’’ border on the outside. 4. Fan out apple slices just slightly and arrange tightly onto puff pastry. See below for help. 5. Place puff pastry with apples in freezer for 10 minutes. Top & Bake:
6. Combine remaining tablespoon of apricot jam with unsatled butter and microwave (about 15s) until slightly warmed (it should be spreadable but not liquid). Lightly brush onto apple slices as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. 7. Bake pastry until golden brown, about 25 minutes at 400.Let cool until jam has set, about 10 minutes, before serving.