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

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Hi, everyone! It’s good to be back. We’ve celebrated a birthday and an anniversary since I last posted, but those milestones caused barely a blip on our radar, given the other major happenings in our lives. We had even greater cause to reflect on another journey around the sun when Gil left the job he’d held for 17 YEARS to form a trade association for a segment of advertisers in the magazine he edited. More than just needing a change as part of a (thankfully non-sleazy) mid-life crisis, this is his chance to build a new business from the ground up, so after a lot of talking, we decided he’d be crazy not to try. It means tightening our belts for a little while, but that’s ok.

So we’ve both been working from home. Hey, I heard that sharp inhalation and can practically see you wincing! But really, it’s been great. Gil’s been traveling a bit, so we haven’t had two straight weeks of each other yet, but even when he’s here, he’s at one end of the house and I’m at the other. So no, we aren’t sick of each other yet.

My big news isn’t nearly so momentous. I fully expected a freelance photography career to have its ups and downs, but it’s been mostly downs for a while now. I’m looking into a contract position doing photo production work for the summer so I can earn a steady paycheck and refill the coffers, but to get my business back on track, I registered for Marie Forleo’s B-School. It’s a big commitment, both monetarily and in time spent, but the course has nearly paid for itself already and I’m only three weeks in. And I’m learning SO MUCH. I’ve never pretended to have a head for business, but it’s been shocking to find out how much I didn’t know, and terrifically surprising to have fun learning about building a business.

I’ve gained a lot of clarity about the people I want to serve, too, and I was shocked to discover that it isn’t major food magazines. Of course, I’d still kill to shoot for them, but the clients I’ve truly loved working with over the past year and change have been small business owners and restaurateurs — people with whom I can form a relationship and really help by providing beautiful imagery, be it branding photos or simple product photography and styling.

Now that I’ve gotten clear about the WHO, I need to figure out the HOW. So I’ll put this call out to you. If you fit the bill — maybe you own a small restaurant or run a food-related business, or just need better product photos for your Etsy store — give me a shout. I’d love to talk to you about your goals and how I can help you achieve them.

You may notice a little change in my site design, too. As part of B-School, we’re encouraged to provide opt-ins on our websites that offer our readers things they need or want. I can’t quite figure out what that might be for Amy Roth Photo, so I thought it’d be best to begin here, at the blog that started it all for me. I’m going to start sending out a monthly newsletter featuring new gluten-free recipes, product photography, and special offers (though probably not all three each and every month). If you’d like to sign up, you can either go to the bottom of this post and look for a light blue box, go to the top of the Blog sidebar, or down to the footer. I tried to make it easy for you, PLUS there’s a special thank you for everyone once you’ve confirmed your registration.

I know all of this has nothing to do with that bit of beauty at the top of the page, so thank you for bearing with me while I got that off my chest. What you see up there is a celebratory apple tart I baked for Gil’s last day at the office. We decided not to do a big blow-out celebration because it was happening right in the middle of my birthday and our wedding anniversary and frankly eating out a third time in the space of a week and a half just didn’t sound that appealing.

WHO AM I?!

To make the tart, I started with my standard gluten-free tart crust from Elana’s Pantry, dusted it with ground cinnamon, then proceeded with the free-form apple tart instructions at Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn. My mandoline didn’t come out to play because I’ve grown attached to the skin on my knuckles, so the apples were a bit thicker than they should’ve been. It didn’t affect baking time or flavor, though, so don’t worry if you have the same issue.

The tart was rich and buttery-tasting from the almond flour, but totally vegan. It wasn’t very sweet, so you could eat a large piece and not feel like you needed a nap, but it was still sweet enough to feel like a treat with afternoon tea. All in all, a great recipe for a quick dessert. I’d imagine it’d be wonderful with a dollop of pastry cream or whipped cream, but that experiment will come later.

For now, I’ll be working on B-School and planning a bigger work life.

Day 1, Mini Apple Pies

Hello, and welcome to this year’s Advent Calendar! Are you in the holiday spirit now that December’s here? Maybe you’re the organized sort with your shopping done and presents wrapped. Maybe you’re dreading the idea and hope to put it off for another day. If so, consider yourself among friends; have a glass of prosecco and hang out for a bit. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’m here to help! My goal with this series is to post every day till Christmas with gift ideas and recipes (many southern-inflected, all gluten-free). Think of it as my own NaBloWriMo, only my failure is guaranteed the posts are planned to end on Christmas day. Wish me luck; it’s a huge undertaking for someone who typically posts once a month.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

You won’t find sweet stuff here everyday, but let’s start off with a bang, shall we? For your consideration, mini apple pies: all the goodness of the deep dish version, but portable, adorable and (hint, hint) perfect for giving. If you’re missing Hubig’s —and who isn’t? — okay, this isn’t the same, but close your eyes and pretend for a bit, then send some love their way.

For this recipe, as ever, I turned to Joy the Baker, who is unable to steer you wrong in matters of pie. Like Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson sifted together, she’ll buck you up and won’t let you fail. But even if you do (hey, shit happens), it’s still pie, and you can eat your mistakes.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

Once again, I brought out my prized Cup4Cup flour, which cured me of a fear of pie crusts. I don’t fear much in the kitchen and mostly keep my cool no matter what, but I absolutely am a big old drama queen when it comes to pies. Silly, I know, but you weren’t around to witness my abject failure whenever I tried to make a gluten-free version. Vapors were experienced, cursing ensued. But this flour is a dream to work with and the flavor’s right up there, too.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

But you’re not here to read about my issues. You want pie, and pie you shall have. With pictures. After the jump.

Continue reading “Day 1, Mini Apple Pies”

’08 Advent Calendar, Day 2

Apples are a particular favorite of mine this time of year. Varieties range from sweet to tart, they can be used for snacking out of hand, baking, mashing, or even braising, and they pair equally well with sweet or savory ingredients.

They’re extra-delicious in caramelized apple bread pudding, too. What’s not to love?

For the 2007 Advent Calendar, click here.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “’08 Advent Calendar, Day 2”