Growing up, I had many influences when it came to cooking --- my grandmother, my mother and my French godmother. This was the first recipe my godmother taught me. I was too little to reach the top of the counter, so she would pull over a step stool and we would make this together. Crisp apples are baked with a puff pastry crust and the butter and sugar create a rich caramel, and the creme fraiche cuts through the sweetness perfectly.
- 1 package frozen puff pastry, defrosted
- 4-6 pounds Honeycrisp, Braeburn or Golden Delicious apples (6-10, depending on size of pan), peeled, cored and halved lengthwise
- 1 stick unsalted European butter (like Plugra or Kerrygold)
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups crème fraîche
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
On a lightly floured work surface (board or marble), roll puff pastry into a 12 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Another way is to roll the pastry into a rectangle, and then, using a sharp paring knife or pizza cutter, cut out a 12 inch round. Place the round puff pastry on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate. I like to save the scraps to roll out and make mini tarts.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter over medium heat in a 10 inch skillet or cast iron pan. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle the sugar evenly over it. Once the sugar is dissolved, this should only take a minute or two, remove pan from heat. Arrange the apple slices in 2 concentric circles, starting from the outside of the pan. The apple slices should fit very snugly together.
Return pan to heat and cook, over medium heat, until the caramel forms, about 30 minutes. The caramel should be amber in color.
Remove pan from heat and cover the pan with the circle of puff pastry. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
Let tart cool for 15 minutes. Place large plate over the top of the skillet and carefully invert the tart. Don’t forget to use your oven mitts because the skillet handle will still be hot. If there is any caramel clinging to the pan, use a spatula to scoop it out and drizzle over the tart. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the top.
IMPORTANT TIP: Don’t let the tart cool for more than 15 minutes, or the caramel will start to harden, making it more difficult to remove the tart from the pan.