Merry Christmas everybody! I hope y’all had a great Christmas – first off, I’d like to apologize for this semi-hiatus I’ve been on. Mainly because I’ve been super busy, and I’ve been baking quite a lot (definitely see more mouthwatering recipes coming soon), blogging has taken a backseat. BUT – I couldn’t resist squeezing in one last apple recipe before 2016 finishes! This time, I decided to downsize my normal tarts because there’s only 4 of us at home, and I found that this size of tart was just perfect for us.
First off, you have the base – a beautiful, buttery, old-fashioned sweet shortcrust pastry baked to perfection. Then, a bottom layer of thinly sliced, cooked apples with just a hint of cinnamon, that when baked, creates an almost applesauce-like layer. After that, a mesmerizing array of thick apple wedges that have been sauteed lightly with butter to release some of their juices, and then baked just so they still have a soft bite to them. Finally, drizzled on top, you have a delicious salted toffee sauce that is so easy and super simple to make!
To be completely honest, I don’t make caramel/toffee very often. I was traumatized by my first every time attempting to make it….
3 years ago, in a hot stuffy kitchen in Malaysia… After a trip to Harry Potter world Japan, and instantly falling in love with butterbeer, my sister and I tried to make butterbeer. We had all the ingredients, except the caramel sauce – we thought to ourselves: this can’t be too hard, right? Clicking on the first recipe we found for caramel, we dumped a bunch of sugar and water in the pot, and began our caramel flavored adventure. LONG STORY SHORT, we burnt it. And it tasted disgusting. The beautiful amber color turned a hideous brown so quickly before our eyes we didn’t even have time to take it off the heat and add in the cream. Result? A huge jar of burnt overly sweet caramel that gave an unpleasant, smoky taste to our butterbeer. I was traumatized.
Flashforward to the present, and here I am, with a jar of perfect toffee sauce in my fridge and the remains of the toffee apple tart in my belly. This toffee sauce is so simple, you really don’t need fancy equipment like a candy thermometer. All you need is a pot, a spatula, and a whisk. Easy. It all starts with some sugar and water in a pot. Heat it until the sugar dissolves (WITHOUT STIRRING), and at that point you can begin swirling the pot around to mix the sugar (BUT DO NOT STIR). Leave the pot on the heat, occasionally swirling the pan to make sure it heats evenly. The sugar will begin to boil, and at that point I stuck my spatula in just to check the color (my pot was black which made it difficult to see the color change). Keep an eye on the sugar though, because it turns quickly from a clear bubbling sugar mixture into a nice amber color. At that point, remove the pan from the heat and immediately add in the cream, whisking constantly – the sugar is VERY HOT – so please don’t burn yourself – the steam itself is very hot as well. Whisk until smooth, and then add some salt to taste – SO GOOD… (I’m salivating just thinking about it)
The recipe I adapted this from pours all the toffee over the apples and then pops it in the fridge – but even though I love toffee, I feel the sweetness of it overpowers the bright tartness of the apples – so I decided just to drizzle it lightly over the apples, and save the toffee for a rainy day.
This toffee apple tart tastes SO GOOD warm, and topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream!
INGREDIENTS (if you decide to make a small tart like I have, simply halve the entire recipe and use a 7-8 inch tart tin)
- 250g flour
- 120g butter
- 100g icing sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 egg yolks
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 8 apples (if making small tart, half the whole recipe), peeled and cored
- 1 tsp lemon juice if apples are not tart
- 100g caster sugar
- 200g granulated sugar
- 75ml cold water
- 150ml double cream
- Pinch of salt
- Sift together icing sugar and flour. Rub in the butter using fingertips
- Add the salt and flavoring, and then create a well in the center. Add the milk and egg yolks and then using a fork, mix to combine. Bring together using hands
- Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 180◦C. Roll out the dough to ½ cm and line a greased 10-12inch tin. Prick the base with a fork and line with baking paper. Fill with baking beans/rice.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the baking paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes
- Take 4 apples and cut each into 8 pieces and toss in lemon juice. Melt butter in a frying pan and saute the apple pieces until brown on the edges. Remove and allow to cool
- Slice remaining 4 apples thinly and put them in a pan with caster sugar and cook for about 20 minutes, until soft. Spoon into pastry case and arrange the reserved apple pieces on top in a circle.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the toffee. Put the granulated sugar and water in a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Boil until the sugar begins to turn an amber color. Remove from the heat and add the cream, stirring constantly to combine into the toffee. Add the salt to taste and stir.
- Remove the tart from the oven and drizzle the toffee generously over the apples. Chill for 1 hour and serve