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

Gingered Pomelo Sorbet

Pomelo Sorbet with Ginger

Do you do pomelo? The first time I had one, I had no idea about the pith situation, nor the thick skin on the segments and had a time with it. I’d heard they were delicious, saw one at a market, and picked it up for lunch thinking it’d be a nutritious option and I’d get to try something new to boot. Hah! Back in my office, I went to work peeling it with the steak knife I had in my drawer. And I kept working. And peeling, and working, and peeling. Until finally — no lie, about 10 minutes later — I got to the good stuff! I never made the mistake of tackling one outside of my own kitchen again, and have gotten more adept at it over time, but still don’t have them as often as I should.

Then a month or so ago, Darcie mentioned that she wanted to do a tutorial on prepping pomelo (which, by the way, is a terrific guide). I casually mentioned that maybe we should do a sorbet with the sections, and the next thing I knew, she’d come up with an amazing recipe. Let me tell you, it pays to be friends with a recipe developer!

Gingered Pomelo Sorbet

It was an overcast day, so we decided to use natural light to give the photos a soft feel. I really enjoyed taking a break from my strobes, which I’ve come to rely on even when going for a daylight look; it was nice to get back to my magic window and take a WYSIWYG approach to lighting. The props and backgrounds came together easily as well once we saw the prepared sorbet. The blue tile offers a nice complement to the edging-toward-coral sorbet, and the diamond pattern on the light gray bowl relates to the starburst pattern on the vintage Ovenex loaf pan. I’d say it was a success all around, and look forward to making this again now that I have the secret formula for getting to the meat of the pomelo in record time!

Be sure to visit Darcie’s site for the sorbet recipe — it’s a real winner.

Gingered Pomelo Sorbet Scoop

Panettone Bread Pudding

Anyone who’s been around this blog for a while knows I’m a huge fan of bread pudding. It might’ve even been my first dessert-love, especially the way my grandma made it — just a touch sweet, with meringue on top, served with evaporated milk poured over the top. (Because you cannot separate a Cajun from their Pet Milk. Preach.)

But over the years, I’ve fooled around with the basic recipe a lot, and come up with different variations — everything from a blueberry-heavy pudding to a bananas foster bread pudding that I wouldn’t kick out of bed. But this version with Panettone is maybe the simplest one, and certainly has a great holiday spin. And if you must top it with something other than Pet Milk, it does not suck with the warm spiced rum sauce I found at Bon Appetit. Good gawd! Outrageous doesn’t even begin to cover it.

See what Darcie had to say about this over at Gourmet Creative, and enjoy!

Panettone Bread Pudding

Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Breakfast, Dessert
Panettone Bread Pudding makes an everyday dessert extra-special for the holidays.

Ingredients

  • 1 Panettone bread loaf
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 12oz evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons butter (chilled, cut into small dice)

Optional

  • 1 splash bourbon

Note

Since Panettone is such a moist bread, you’ll need to dry it out before proceeding with the recipe. If possible, a day before you make this, cut the bread into large cubes (about 1 1/2”) and let them rest on a baking sheet on the counter until you’re ready to prepare the bread pudding. Alternately, toast the bread cubes in a 200°F oven until they’re dried out a bit. Check for doneness every 10 minutes. Ideally, the bread cubes should be as dry as stale bread, but less dry than toast.

Delicious topped with Spiced Rum Sauce from Bon Appetit.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch square baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for bread. Add bread, tossing and pressing down so it absorbs the egg mixture evenly. Let soak for a 30 minutes, then spoon into prepared baking dish. If any of the bread cubes are still dry at this point, add a splash of milk and let it soak in a for a few minutes. Sprinkle butter cubes evenly over the surface of the bread pudding.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, or pudding is evenly browned and puffy. Bread pudding will shrink as it cools.

Cherry Clafoutis

I know a lot of people are impatient for farmers’ market darlings tomatoes and corn to make an appearance, but I’m just happy to experience the seasons as they unfold and enjoy each week’s new arrivals. Cherries came to market two weeks ago and I’ve been shoving them in my face with a speed rivaled only by Ru at his bowl. But I managed a little restraint as well, because what’s the start of cherry season without a clafoutis?

If you’ve never had clafoutis, you’re in for a treat. It’s a simple, homey French dessert with a custardy base and fruit baked in. Cherry is very popular, but you can use just about any fruit you’d like, really. The traditional recipe isn’t gluten-free so I haven’t made it in a while, but when I saw a recipe by Kimberley Hasselbrink at Cookbooks 365 that used a mixture of almond flour and brown rice flour, I knew clafoutis’ time had come again for me. Visit Cookbooks 365 for the recipe and stick around for a bit for delicious, wholesome recipes and gorgeous photography.

French Feta with Cherries | Minimally Invasive

Because I pitted more cherries than I needed for the clafoutis, I tried something a little different with the extras. To go with a luscious French feta I bought on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Corrado’s, I tossed halved sweet cherries with a touch of honey, some chopped rosemary, toasted and chopped pecans, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of kosher salt. The sweet-tart cherries balanced the salty creaminess of the feta so perfectly, I may or may not have eaten a quarter pound of cheese in one sitting that day. I’ll never tell.

All this talk of cherries has me hungry for more. Lucky me, I loaded up at the market again this weekend. Yum.

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

I Love Donna Hay and her Crème Brûlée

Donna Hay puts out one gorgeous food magazine. The photographs aren’t just consistently beautiful; they’re consistently “Donna Hay Magazine,” if you know what I mean. Once you pore over enough images from a single source, you’ll come to recognize a photographer’s or magazine’s style, assuming they have just one, and DHM has cornered the market on simple food styling, cool tones, and ingredients so fresh you can’t wait for them to be seasonal in the northern hemisphere. I picked up a copy on the newsstand a couple of months ago because I wanted the whole thing for my inspiration file, but this recipe was the one that jumped off the page for me.

Banana Crème Brûlée | Minimally Invasive

Banana crème brûlée. Discovering it was was a real come-to-Jesus moment.

Banana Crème Brûlée | Minimally Invasive

I can’t find the original photo or recipe online, but it’s a cinch to make. Just peel and slice a mini banana in half lengthwise and insert it into the dish of crème brûlée before putting it into the oven. Bake as usual, dust with sugar and torch it as usual, and enjoy (quite a bit more than usual, if you’re anything like me).

Field to Feast: Strawberries & Rhubarb, Part II

As much as I love strawberries, I’ll admit that bringing home four pints at one time might have been overkill. Strawberries have such a short shelf life that you have to do something with them pretty quickly or you’ll find your very own science experiment growing in the refrigerator within days. Which is to say we were swimming in desserts last week. In addition to the galette I posted yesterday, I made a crisp (this time with rhubarb!) to use up a good portion of my bounty. We really tore through these desserts, not from fear of spoilage, but just because we couldn’t help ourselves.

And really, who doesn’t love a crisp? I’ve been trying to perfect a gluten-free version for the past few months, but the all-purpose flour blends weren’t working for me at all. Even after cutting back on the butter, they still oozed into a big sugary mass over the fruit instead of, well, crisping nicely on top. Since I’ve had such good luck with almond flour recently, I thought it might be worth a try here. To compensate for the extra fat from the almonds, I halved the butter from my regular crisp topping. And without patting myself too enthusiastically on the back (it’s just a crisp, after all), I want to tell you that this was really, really good. Gil rarely compliments my cooking, but he was over the moon with this one from the first bite, so I’d say it was a win-win —  a gluten-free dessert that’s marginally healthier than the original (if you don’t count the sugar) and delicious.

Gluten-Free Crisp Recipe at Minimally Invasive

I may have to reconsider my status as a non-baker if this lucky dessert streak keeps going!

Hah, who am I kidding? You know I’ll always prefer imprecise, improvisational “cooking” over baking.

Unripe Strawberry at Minimally Invasive

Learn about growing strawberries and check out the delicious Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce at The FarmGirl Cooks!

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Almond Crisp

I used finely-ground almond flour in this recipe, but I think it would be okay to substitute flour with a coarser grind here, like Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour. Of course, I haven’t tested it so it’s just speculation, but if you try it, please let me know what you think. Also, if your berries are very sweet, you’ll need to cut back on the sugar in the fruit base. The strawberries I used here were moderately sweet, but I know they’ll be even more sugary in the weeks to come. 

Fruit Base

3 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces (Discard any leaves and trim stringy layers from thick stalks.)
3 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch kosher salt

Topping

1/2 cup finely-ground almond flour, packed
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix rhubarb and strawberries with sugar. Macerate 10 minutes, then mix well with almond extract, optional balsamic vinegar, cornstarch and salt, and let sit for an additional 20 minutes.

Combine almond flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in sliced almonds and toss until evenly distributed.

Pour fruit into a 2-quart casserole dish or into individual oven-safe serving dishes. If using individual dishes, fill almost to the top with fruit base. Spoon the topping over the fruit. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

Field to Feast: Strawberries & Rhubarb, Part I

To be perfectly honest, rhubarb won’t make an appearance until the second post, but I hope you’ll forgive me, because today’s strawberry galette is a doozy on its own. And that was a surprise to me, because I usually find cooked strawberries a bit underwhelming on their own.

Galettes are one of my favorite desserts to make when spring rolls around because they’re incredibly easy and are supposed to look like crap RUSTIC, imperfection being a key selling point of this dessert! And honestly, I need no particular encouragement to make my baked goods look RUSTIC and HOMEY!

Gluten-Free Strawberry Galette at Minimally Invasive

See? RUSTIC! 

I’ve always been happy enough with the crust I use for galettes; it’s shot through with cornmeal, which gives it some heft and a really pleasing crunch that goes so, so well with whatever filling I’m using. This time around, I did swap out AP flour for Cup4Cup because I bake gluten-free now, but it worked perfectly.

My relationship with fruit fillings has always been a bit complicated. I like the individual berries to still have some form after baking — mushiness doesn’t do it for me — while tossing them with flour seems to muddle things on the visual and flavor fronts. I honestly didn’t think there was anything to be done about the flour because the juice that develops during baking has to go somewhere, but I was wrong to think there wasn’t another approach. Oh, so wrong. While looking around for some general amount of flour to use on the strawberries, I found a really interesting way around it; using ground almonds mixed with flour and sugar as a base layer, then topping it with sugared berries.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Galette at Minimally Invasive

You can see above how the berries still glisten with sugar (and with balsamic vinegar, one of my special additions that really adds some complexity to the dessert) before baking. I nibbled on so many of these before putting the galette in the oven that I’m surprised the pastry was still filled by the time it started baking.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Galette at Minimally Invasive

But the minimal amount of self-control I exhibited paid off with a dessert I’ll be making again and again while strawberries are still in market. The ground almond layer handled the juices like a champ and kept the strawberries looking and tasting exactly as they should, even after baking.

You can use any combination of berries you like in a galette, so if strawberries aren’t your thing, maybe blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or even cherries would be more to your liking. Or maybe rhubarb. Or later in the year, maybe try apple or pear…

Learn about growing strawberries and check out the delicious Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce at The FarmGirl Cooks!

Strawberry Galette adapted from Cooking Light and Laura Calder/Cooking Channel

The ground almond layer added a very subtle almond flavor, which I loved. If you want more of it, use the optional almond extract.

Pastry Crust
1 3/4 cups Cup4Cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk
Turbinado sugar, for dusting

Filling
1/2 cup ground almonds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon Cup4Cup flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved if large
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional

To prepare pastry crust, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a food processor; pulse two times. Add butter to flour mixture; pulse 4 to 5 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add buttermilk through food chute; process just until dough forms a ball. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; wrap tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Unwrap dough and place on a sheet of parchment paper, dusting with flour if dough feels a little tacky to the touch. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll dough into a 15-inch circle. Carefully peel off top piece of parchment and slide dough with bottom sheet of parchment onto a baking sheet.

To prepare filling, whisk together almonds, Cup4Cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Spoon onto prepared pastry, leaving a 2-3-inch gap around the edges. Combine strawberries with 1 tablespoon of sugar, balsamic vinegar and optional almond extract, then spoon carefully onto the almond flour mixture.

Using a bench scraper, carefully fold edges of pastry up and over the strawberry filling. If you see any rips, pinch to seal. Lightly sprinkle edges of dough with turbinado sugar.

Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes to one hour, or until pastry is golden brown and strawberry juices are bubbling. Carefully slide galette still on parchment paper onto a rack. Cool to room temperature before serving.

You Put the Lime in the Coconut

Could this holiday weekend be off to a better start? There’s no snow in the forecast and it’ll be warm enough to ditch my coat! SPRING IS HERE, and not a moment too soon!

To celebrate, here’s a little gluten-free treat that’s appropriate for both Passover and Easter, which overlap this year. I’ve posted about macaroons several times, but these Lime-in-the-Coconut Macaroons are a delicious spin on the original. The lime zest and reader-recommended tablespoon of juice are a perfect complement to the coconut shavings and put me in a tropical state of mind, which this glorious weather only encourages. Spring fever: Catch it!

And really, how gorgeous are these eggs from Nina’s Red Barn Farm? They’re practically ready for Easter without any dyeing at all.