Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Apple Tart

Apple Tart with Salted Caramel by Amy Roth Photo

I’m not sure what came over me last weekend, but the idea of a salted caramel apple tart just worked its way into my imagination and wouldn’t let go. It was entirely too specific to be denied — an apple tart would’ve been fine, even an apple crisp, but this HAD to have salted caramel, and had to be gluten-free. So I got to work.

While this tart is easy enough for even novice bakers to make, it has a few parts to it which add up in terms of actual cooking plus resting time. If you’d rather not do it in one pass, you could easily start a day or two early by prepping the crust and the caramel and refrigerating them until you’re ready to proceed.

Gluten-Free Tart Crust

I wanted to use almond flour for the crust because I thought the flavor would complement the apples and caramel nicely, so I searched for a recipe that guaranteed something more flaky than dense and chewy, which can sometimes be a problem with almond flour. Turns out that meant adding some tapioca starch, but not enough to overwhelm the nutty flavor of the almonds. The recipe I chose from Cassidy’s Craveable Creations worked out great. There’s no need to parbake — just follow her instructions to prep and rest the dough, then go from there. (You’ll need to purchase finely ground almond flour rather than almond meal for this, which isn’t always easy to find locally. Bob’s Red Mill is delicious, but too coarse for a lot of the recipes I make, so I order flour online in five pound bags and store it in the freezer for maximum freshness. I’ve put together a shopping guide at the end of this post so you can find any specialty items I mention.)

Salted Caramel

Salted caramel is a snap to make, and it’s a great way to use any leftover heavy cream you may have hanging around. The nice thing about this recipe is that it makes more than you’ll need for the tart, so you have an excuse to warm the caramel for an ice cream topping, eat it with apple slices, or just sample it liberally from the jar. Most recipes are pretty similar and don’t call for vanilla, but I have a ridiculous amount of vanilla bean pods in the cupboard, so I simmered one with the cream, and it really added a nice depth to the final product. (If you ever need vanilla beans — especially in bulk — but can’t bring yourself to purchase them at the extortionate prices charged by grocery stores, do what I do and order from ebay. Seriously.)

This tart can really use a generous application of salted caramel (and it’s great drizzled over the individual slices), so don’t be shy when you’re building it. The apples aren’t tossed with sugar before assembly, so if you prefer a sweeter tart, be generous.

Vanilla bean pods by Amy Roth Photo

Apples and Assembly

To make the tart a bit prettier than I normally would, I left the apple skins on and cut them into thin slices before arranging them in the pan in half-apple groupings. Instead of trying my patience with a knife, I set my mandoline to cut 1/8″ slices, which ensured even slices and sped up the process considerably. But even with the mandoline, it took a little while to slice five apples, so I dipped the fresh slices into a mixture of citric acid and water to keep them from browning. You could use plenty of lemon juice in the water instead of the citric acid powder, but I’ve never had much luck with it. Neither one is strictly necessary since browning won’t harm the flavor, but it makes for a nice presentation.

My 9″ tart pan was perfect for this application, but you can use a pie plate if you prefer. Just don’t use deep dish unless you increase all ingredients. Even so, the apples may look a bit meager in there after baking.

The only difficulty with assembly was taking pictures between each step, but when the photographic muse calls, one must listen! In fact, I created a little animation of the process, if you’d like to take a look:

Gluten-free apple tart with salted caramel by Amy Roth Photo

While making a pretty tart takes a little more effort than my go-to apple crisp, the extra time spent in the kitchen is certainly worth it! Nothing says fall like a delicious apple dessert.

Slices of Salted Caramel Apple Tart

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Apple Tart with Salted Caramel by Amy Roth Photo
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Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Apple Tart

An apple tart with soul – salted caramel adds depth and the nutty almond crust plays beautifully with the other flavors in this perfect fall dessert.

Course: Dessert
Ingredients
Salted Caramel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Apple Tart
  • 4-5 baking apples (like Cortland or Granny Smith)
  • citric acid
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar optional, for sprinkling
Instructions
Almond Flour Crust
  1. Follow instructions at the blog post listed in Recipe Notes (below) for tart preparation. After chilling dough in refrigerator, roll out between two sheets of parchment paper, remove one piece of paper and turn dough over and into a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. Remove top sheet of parchment and press dough into the pan. Trim excess dough either with a knife or by pressing dough against the edge of the pan. Refrigerate until you're ready to assemble the tart.

Salted Caramel
  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine granulated sugar and water over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until a deep amber color. 

  2. While syrup is cooking, simmer heavy cream and vanilla bean in a small pot. Remove vanilla bean just before proceeding with the next step.

  3. Once sugar reaches the proper color, whisk in heavy cream, taking care as you do because it will foam up. Continue whisking over low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth.

  4. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in butter and salt. Allow to cool before proceeding with apple tart assembly.

  5. Mix a small bowl of water and citric acid according to instructions on the package and set next to your work station.

Apple Tart
  1. Cut apples in half lengthwise and core. To slice, turn an apple half on its side so the apple is taller than it is wide, with the cut half is facing away from you. With a mandoline set to 1/8", slice the apples as far down as you can go without endangering your fingers.

  2. Stack the apple slices in order so they re-form the apple half. Dip in citric acid & water and set aside on a plate or cutting board. Repeat with remaining apples.

  3. To assemble, remove prepared tart shell from the refrigerator and add 3-4 large spoonfuls of salted caramel to the base of the tart. Spread with a butter knife or small offset spatula. 

  4. Arrange sliced apple halves decoratively into tart shell. See video for how I did it, or just wing it. Fill in any open spaces with smaller groupings of apple slices.

  5. Brush apples with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if using.

  6. Place tart shell on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F for approximately 60-75 minutes (possibly more), or until a skewer inserts easily into the thickest apple sections with little resistance. If tart dough starts to brown too much, wrap the edges in foil.

  7. Cool in tart pan to room temperature before serving. Drizzle with salted caramel sauce for a decadent presentation.

Recipe Notes

Use your favorite tart dough recipe or follow instructions for the one I used at Cassidy's Creaveable Creations

One of Us! One of Us!

I’m generally immune to the pumpkin-washed hysteria that grips the popular imagination this time of year. I figure there’s plenty of time for that sort of thing before we see pretty, leafy produce again next spring. Plus, it’s just kinda gross. (I’m looking right at you, pumpkin-flavored coffee.) But our days have been unseasonably cool and I had a delicious roasted ambercup squash for breakfast yesterday, so I felt primed for a little pumpkin dessert. It’s ok, right? I mean, it is October and you do need to know about these before your fall baking gets underway…

I picked up a couple of doughnut pans for baking last year, but the recipes weren’t quite right, so I never shared them here. The larger pan functioned very well, honestly, despite the flavorless batter I filled it with. Actually, the mini doughnut pan worked well, too, but I just don’t have the patience to deal with something so precious for such a minimal output. YMMV. But this outing was a success thanks to this recipe for Gluten-Free Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts from Serious Eats (with just a few minor changes). I gave up on baking with gums a while ago and use ground psyllium husks now, instead. Just a pinch is what the Gluten-Free Girl recommends for this type of baking and it gave me an absolutely perfect result. I brushed the pan with melted coconut oil and used the same in place of the vegetable oil. I wasn’t in the mood for coconut flavor, so I used the organic expeller-pressed stuff from Tropical Traditions, but I’d be curious to see how the flavorful virgin coconut oil works out next time. Because there will be a next time, only with a little more pumpkin spice in the mix. Just a smidge, though. This recipe doesn’t need much noodling.

So forgive the pumpkin post, if you’re not ready for it just yet. But I HAD TO. Now, would it be a terrible thing to have two of these in one day? I suppose I could exercise to make up for it…

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Doughnuts Stack | Minimally Invasive

A Very Special Mid-Week Post

aka, the ass-kicker

< cue swelling strings > OK, it’s not really special at all — just a garden-variety post — but if you’ve been here before, you’ll know I only update once a week at most. This is me trying to be better about that sort of thing.

Another change for the better? Instead of my annual satisfying-yet-ineffective tactic of resisting the return to fall, I’m embracing it with open arms this year. No, seriously: I didn’t whine even a little bit about the annual closet switchout, dutifully donned a hat and jacket when morning temperatures and the Hudson Hawk made my walk too brisk for bareness and have sucked it up about not seeing my house in daylight during the week. Just trying to Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive here, and the easiest way I know to do that is through cooking, focusing on seasonal goodness.

Gil can attest to my current pumpkin/winter squash obsession. (We’ll be attending castings for Jersey Shore if I don’t cut it out. Coming soon to a boardwalk near you: Amy “The Back End” and Gil “The Incident” Roth.) I’ve been roasting pumpkin like crazy for custards, puddings and mashes, but my favorite use so far has been for soup. What you see in the picture above isn’t revolutionary and won’t set the world on fire, but it’s thoroughly delicious and feels rich and indulgent even though it’s (gasp) vegan. It’s a lush pumpkin soup flavored with roasted garlic, coconut milk and Singapore curry — a lovely, light spice blend that doesn’t overwhelm any other components of the dish.

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I jumped feet-first into serious cold-weather cooking last weekend to satisfy a craving for chickpea soup (pasta e ceci, minus the pasta this time around). To make it gluten-free, I substituted ribbons of rainbow chard for the pasta, adding them to the soup just before serving so they wilted just enough to turn silky but still provided some texture with each bite. It’s a different animal than the original, to be sure, but the chard really added a nice dimension to the soup and I figure extra servings of greens are always a good thing.

When I was doing my grad school stint in St. Louis, one of the guys in my program announced to the office, “I can always tell who the Southerners are when it gets cold. You people bitch all winter long.” So yeah, I’m sure I’ll change my tune once we get deeper into the season, but for now, I’m happy enough not to fight Mother Nature. Wow, can roasted root vegetables be far behind?

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “A Very Special Mid-Week Post”

They call me “Tater Soup”

Potage Parmentier

I found myself at home mid-week trying to sleep off a sinus infection, but got bored with all of that lying about after a while. (This development is disturbing to me, since I used to be quite happy lazing the day away, watching trashy TV and napping. When did I turn into my dad, needing a project to keep me happy and productive?!) So I did what I always do; I escaped to the kitchen. Still groggy and hungover-ish from Nyquil, I wasn’t up for a full-blown meal, but a simple soup was something I could handle and Potage Parmentier fit the bill perfectly. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make and any additions to the potato and leek base amount to a “why not?” soup.

Should I add celery root? Why not?
How about some apple? Why not?
Maybe a whole head of roasted garlic? Hell, yeah! I mean…why not?

potato & leek soup with celery root, apple & roasted garlic

The soup left me with a small batch of potato and apple peels, which I hated to see go to waste, so I munched on the apple peels while the soup simmered, and turned the potato peels into a nutrient-filled version of fries…simply stir fried in a little bit of olive oil until golden brown, then tossed with salt & pepper.

Waste not, want not.

They’re really amazing drizzled with truffle oil, or better yet, melted truffle butter. But this time I just ate them plain, with a glass of iced tea. Perfection.

Potato peel fries, close-up

The boys were very supportive of my earlier decision to nap extensively, but couldn’t agree to end the day in a productive manner.

Rufus & Otis, doing what they do best.

An autumn breakfast

091016_squash_sm

I’m tired of fighting it.

We had snow yesterday (snow, people!), so I’m diving into fall cooking starting with a simple breakfast — acorn squash roasted with cultured butter, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and a liberal sprinkling of salt. I’ll be restocking my squash supplies over the weekend so this kind of thing is always an option.

Update: I’ve added a recipe of sorts after the jump.

Continue reading “An autumn breakfast”