Anchored by its crumbly, earthy crust and topped with gooey caramel, this ridiculously fantastic and shockingly gorgeous gluten free apple tart by Alanna Taylor-Tobin is the dessert to make when you want to impress the heck out of people—including yourself.
If you’re short on time or crave a more traditional finish, skip the caramel and brush the tart with a few tablespoons of apricot jam loosened with a few drops of water, heated, and strained. Best the day it's baked, the tart will keep at room temperature for 1 day but leftovers may be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.
FOR THE CRUST:
- 1⁄2 cup blanched almond flour such as Bob’s Red Mill
- 1⁄2 cup sweet white rice flour
- 1⁄2 cup chestnut flour
- 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
- 1⁄4 cup granulated cane sugar
- 1⁄4 plus 1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR THE FILLING:
- 5 tart firm baking apples (1 3⁄4 pounds; such as Granny Smith or Belles de Boskoop) peeled
- 1⁄4 cup granulated cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in small pieces
- 1⁄2 cup Salty Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce see below, at room temperature or warmed
Make the crust:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the almond, sweet rice, and chestnut flours with the tapioca flour, sugar, and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and drizzle with the vanilla. Turn the mixer to medium-low and run until the butter is completely integrated, 3 to 5 minutes. (If the dough doesn’t come together, work it with your hands.)
Transfer the crumbs into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press the dough firmly and evenly into the pan, starting with the sides and then moving to the bottom. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with the tines of a fork and freeze until firm, 15 to 30 minutes.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350oF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tart pan on it.
Make the tart:
Cut the flesh off each apple core in large chunks, cutting close to the core (alternatively, halve and core the apples). Cut each chunk into slices as thin as possible, about 1⁄8-inch thick, keeping the slices stacked together and discarding the rounded edges. Fan the slices out lengthwise slightly and place them, cut-side facing the center of the tart, around the outside of the shell, tucking the last apple under the first to make a continuous loop. Repeat with a second layer just inside the first, reversing the fan if you like, and continue until you’ve filled the tart, tucking in as many of the extra pieces as you can; the apples will reduce a lot as they cook. Sprinkle all over with the sugar and dot with the butter.
Bake the tart until the tips of the apples are bronzed and the fruit is bubbling furiously, 65 to 75 minutes. There’s a fine line between cooking the apples all the way and burning the crust. Watch and remove the tart early if the crust becomes too dark. Let the tart cool for 1 hour, then drizzle all over with the caramel sauce and serve warm or at room temperature.
SALTY VANILLA BEAN CARAMEL SAUCE
- 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup or honey
- 1 cup granulated cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a few pieces
- Flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Pour the cream into a small saucepan with a lid, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan, then add the vanilla bean pod and heat over medium heat until steamy, swirling the pan occasionally. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep.
Pour 1⁄4 cup water into a heavy- bottomed saucepan. Add the corn syrup, then carefully pour the sugar into the center of the pan. If any sugar crystals stick to the sides of the pan, brush them down into the water with moistened fingers. Cover and cook, without stirring, over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Uncover and continue to gently boil, without stirring, until the mixture turns a deep amber, gently tilting the pan to encourage even caramelization. This will take only a few minutes; watch the pan carefully toward the end and reduce the heat to low if needed.
When the mixture turns a dark amber, remove the pan from the heat, immediately swirl in the butter, then gently and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Return the pan to low heat and whisk gently to dissolve any hardened caramel. Strain into a heatproof bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cooled. Stir in 1⁄2 teaspoon flaky salt, crushing any extra-large bits between your fingers, and season to taste with more salt.
Recipe and photo: Alanna Taylor-Tobin