Apple Tarte Tatin with Red Wine-Vanilla Caramel Sauce

Fall is one of my favorite seasons: watching the changing of leaves on the trees, smelling the burning of firewood coming from neighbor's chimneys in the early evening, having college football back in full swing (of course), and finding apples showing up everywhere at Farmer's Markets. 

Though here in California they are available throughout the year, I prefer to rapidly consume this fantastic fruit during its peak season during the Fall months. And, one of my all-time favorite way to use them is in a flaky and subtle-y sweet Apple Tarte Tatin. 

To those unfamiliar with an apple tarte tatin, it literally is an upside down apple tart that consists of apples sauteed in butter and sugar, topped with puff pastry, baked until golden brown, and then is inverted onto a plate to showcase the ooey-gooey caramelized goodness of Granny Smith apples on top of a crisp, layered crust. And, in the case for this recipe, I have added some Pinot Noir to the process, leaving this dessert even more decadent and tasty.

So, move over, apple pie - and welcome a "grown up" version of the iconically classic dessert that is extremely easy to make and "leaves-you-speechless"-ly delicious.


(I have adapted this recipe from Tyler Florence - this makes 1 tarte tatin, but you will see in the photos I have doubled the recipe)

4 tablespoons (2oz) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, plus 1 C heavy cream
3/4 cup red wine, preferably Pinot Noir
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, and cored
1 sheet puff pastry from box, defrosted, and slightly rolled out
1 8" - 10" ramekin, cake pan (with solid bottom), or skillet/cast iron pan

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.

First, begin by making the Pinot Noir caramel sauce that will coat the bottom of the pan; in a sauce pot, melt together the butter and sugar until mixture starts to caramelize and turns deep brown in color, constantly stirring (about 8-10 minutes).

Remove from heat, and carefully and slowly begin to stir in 1/4 C cream (there will be a lot of release of steam from the sugar, so be careful while doing this step). Caramel will start to bubble, and continue to stir cream until bubbles subside.

Next, slowly stir in wine to caramel, being careful as once again steam will be released from the pot and caramel will bubble.

After wine in completely incorporated, add the vanilla beans. Split the bean down the middle lengthwise, and using the back of your knife, scrape out the vanilla from the pod.

Add to the caramel and stir together well, as vanilla beans will tend to clump up together.


Pour caramel into prepared dishes for tarte tatin, about 1/2" thick.

The caramel will be dark, but not this dark - the photo just didn't come out that well. With the leftover caramel, add the 1C of cream, return pot back to stove, heat caramel until bubbles form and remove fro heat. Reserve for topping at the end.

Next, onto the apples. Peel, halve, core, and slice into 8 large chunks from each half.

You can use a melon baller or ice cream scoop (as I have done) to remove the core.

Next, starting around the outside of your baking vessel of choice, start to "pack" the apples into the caramel sauce. This is a key step to make sure the apples are tightly shoved in to keep the caramel from oozing up too much.

Next up, the puff pastry topping. I like to put the ramekin on top of the pastry to help measure the size I need to cut. Use a knife and cut out a circle of the dough that is slightly bigger than the ramekin.

Put the puff pastry on top of the apples, and prick the dough with a fork - this will help the pastry in the baking process from not over "inflating". The tarte tatins are now ready for their time in the oven. Place on cookie sheet (caramel may ooze over the ramekins), and bake at 350*F for 30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.

Honestly, it doesn't get much better than this. 

Once out of the oven, allow the tarts to rest for about 15 minutes to cool off. Using a large plate, place on top of the ramekin and carefully "flip" the ramekin onto the plate so that the puff pastry is on the bottom and the apples are on top (tarts can also be completely cooled overnight and reheated, inverted, and served the next day or the following).

Slice into wedges, and serve with some vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of the red wine caramel sauce. And then, DEVOUR.

This dessert is perfectly sweet - not too much or too little, it's just about perfect. The addition of the red wine in the sauce is a fantastic balance to the natural sugar from the apples and the sugar and butter from the caramel. And, anything with puff pastry is just plain delicious. My girlfriends who were over for dinner raved about this "twist" on the classic apple pie, as did dinner guests last night. 

And, as I have been told I never add any pics of myself to this blog, I thought it fitting to put this one up, seeing as I was pretty happy to be plating one of my all-time favorite desserts. I hope it becomes one of your too - cheers and enjoy!


  1. Adding this to the Lesley's fab ideas file. Love seeing your smiling face! xo

  2. Les, I am DROOLING! I love me some tarte tatin. Our local apples are in full swing over here in SLC so I think I'll be making that for Matt's bday cake in a few days!

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