These mini apple tarts are an easy, elegant dessert you can make with store-bought puff pastry dough. Top them off with homemade caramel sauce and flaky sea salt crystals.
Serving an individual dessert like these apple tartlets is a thoughtful way to make the people around your table feel special.
After a casual family-style dinner when everyone done is sharing large platters of food, a little something sweet plated just for one is a nice finishing touch.
Frozen store-bought puff-pastry dough is a magical ingredient. Without much work at all, you can make impressive desserts that have the rich, flaky layers of a bakery pastry.
I even use it for savory snacks and appetizers, like this rustic flatbread topped with figs and blue cheese.
I love the simplicity of this apple tartlet — it looks like something a pastry pro might make, but it’s really easy to put together.
My favorite dough is an all-butter puff pastry that’s available frozen in many grocery stores, but use whatever dough is your favorite.
The only real project involved with this recipe is making the caramel sauce, which can be made days – and up to 2 weeks – ahead.
You could even (shhhhh) use a prepared caramel sauce to make life even easier. Whichever sauce you choose, heat it gently to loosen it to thick pouring consistency (stirring in a tablespoon or so of cream helps, too.)
The little touch of flaked sea salt sprinkled on the finished tart adds a delicate crunch that neither table or kosher salt can match. Maldon is a widely available brand of sea salt, but if you have any fancy fleur de sel around this is the place to use it 🙂
salted caramel apple tartlets
Yield 4 tartlets
Wow you guests with little effort - Mini puff pastry apple tarts with salted caramel make perfect individual fall desserts.
Tip: Use a wooden spoon or a whisk with a heatproof handle to stir the caramel - a metal spoon will get very hot and a plastic utensil will melt.
Extra caramel sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Caramel Sauce (makes 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted in the refrigerator
- 2 apples, peeled, halved and cored
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- Flaked sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling
- To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar and salt in a 2 -3 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Pour the water over and stir gently. Turn the heat to medium and cook the sugar until it melts into a syrup.
- Once the sugar is completely melted, turn the heat up to medium-high and let it cook undisturbed. The sugar will bubble and foam. Continue cooking and keep your eye on the pan just until it the caramel turns deep golden brown and before it starts to smoke, 3 - 5 minutes.
- Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Slowly pour the cream into the pan. The mixture will bubble up intensely so be careful. When the bubbling subsides, stir in the butter until the sauce is smooth. (Sauce can be made ahead. Heat over low heat until it reaches a pouring consistency).
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to flatten slightly. Cut out 4 or 5-inch diameter circles with a pastry cutter or use the upside-down rim of a small bowl as a guide.
- Transfer the circles to an ungreased baking sheet. Slice each apple half crosswise into thin slices, keeping them together as you slice. Unfurl the slices onto each pastry circle, fanning them in a pinwheel pattern to cover the dough. Brush each tartlet with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.
- Bake 20 - 25 minutes, until the apples are tender and the edges of the tarts are puffed and golden.
- Reheat the caramel to pouring consistency if has cooled, and spoon 1 or 2 tablespoons over each warm tart. Sprinkle with a little flaked salt.