toffee apple tart.

{This is what this post is about! The dulce de leche bubbled over, creating a delicious mess.}

One morning I was flipping through my cookbooks, as I do, when Christian pointed out how incredible Jamie Oliver’s Toffee Apple tart looks. Smooth caramel with baked apples, all encrusted with flaky buttery dough dusted with lemon zest? It looked like the grown-up version of a kid’s treat. Naturally, it was added to my mental “things to bake” list and quickly moved to the top of the queue, bypassing homemade oreos and buttermilk cake.

Granted, my tart doesn’t look as beautiful as Mr. Oliver’s. I don’t have a food stylist (excuses, excuses), and the dulce de leche bubbled over the tart pan (see safety measures below), which created equal parts lovely smell and disconcerting smoke coming out of the oven. While this tart isn’t perfect-looking, it tastes delicious-o and warm and comforting and will make your friends happy.

I feel like I’m one of those bakers who’s sneakily preparing someone’s favorite baked good only to surprise him/her with it. But this wouldn’t be an accurate description of my preparation of the tart, as A. I’m not capable of being sneaky (tangent: when I was little, my dad cautioned me against my dream of becoming a spy; he didn’t want my hopes to be crushed when the CIA realized I could not employ any degree of subtlety) and B. I’ve announced for the past 5 days that Wednesday would be the day that I would bake the Toffee Apple Tart. So the rouse is up. But still– who could complain? Here’s how you make it. Be prepared with some parchment paper on hand to avoid some mishaps. lv, molly

P.S. – Before you begin, read through the directions thoroughly. Am I scaring you yet? Excellent. While this recipe doesn’t require a lot of active work time, it does take a long time overall; the dulce de leche cooks for over an hour, and the dough needs to refrigerate for 2 hours total. So make this when you’ve got a big window of time to occasionally stir the dulce de leche, check the fridge, and then peel and core the apples and assemble the tart.

Toffee Apple Tart

For the shortcut pastry
5 Tbl unsalted butter
1 C powdered sugar
a pinch of salt
2 scant C all purpose flour (or half AP/ half whole wheat pastry flour)
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 egg yolks, room temp
3 Tbl cold milk

For the filling
2 14 oz cans condensed milk OR 2 jars of Dulce de Leche*
4 medium-sized cooking apples (I recommend Braeburn, Bramley, or Granny Smith)
2 heaping Tbl powdered sugar
* In Seattle, it’s available at Pasta & Co., but it’ll cost you a pretty penny– $10 per 16 oz. as opposed to about $3 for 28 oz. of condensed milk.

To make the dulce de leche

The safer Molly-recommended method
Using a double boiler will prevent any cans from exploding in your kitchen. [This is generally something I like to avoid when baking.] Open the cans of condensed milk, and pour into the top portion of the double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler, see here. Fill the bottom pot of the double boiler with enough water that the top pot is half way submerged. Cook over low-medium heat (you don’t want it to boil, just gently warm over a long period of time so the sugar caramelizes). Stir every 10-15 minutes, and remove from heat after 80-100 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

The less safe, Jamie Oliver-recommended method
Put your unopened cans of condensed milk in a large pan. Add enough water to cover the tops of the cans. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat, and simmer constantly for 3 hours with the lid on top. It’s important to check the pan to check the water levels– you’ll need to add more water every 30 mins. or so to avoid boiling dry. The cans can explode if you don’t top off the water! After 3 hours, puts the cans aside and allow to cool. You’ll have some amazing toffee.

To make the pastry

Cream the butter, sugar, and salt. Then add the flour, lemon zest, and egg yolks, and mix gently by hand or with a wooden spoon. (You may also use a food processor.) When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, add the cold milk. Gently work the mixture together until you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly, and roll it into a large log-shape. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove from the fridge; slice it up; and line an 11″ tart mold with the slices. Push them together and tidy up the sides by trimming off any excess dough. Place the tart mold in the freezer for an hour.

And now… the tart’s creation!

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Peel and quarter the apples. Remove the cores; then slice finely, and toss in the powdered sugar. Remove the pastry base from the freezer, and smear with the caramel. Place the apples on top, and pour any remaining juices in too. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This will prevent a messy cleanup if the caramel bubbles over the side! Cook at the bottom of the oven for 40 minutes; this will give you a crisp base and bubbling toffee over the apples. Let sit for 1-2 hours when done; this will allow the super hot dulce de leche to cool down and become thicker.

And the illustrated version…

{Step 1: Make the dulce de leche. I opted for the non-explosive method.}

{Step 2: Make the dough, and roll it tightly into a log. Refrigerate.  Side note: these look like mom jeans.}

{Step 3: Right before the dough’s ready to come out of the freezer, peel + slice apples + toss them with sugar.}

{Step 4.  Assemble tart. I no doubt added too much dolce de leche, so see my preventative tip above. If you have extra, store in the fridge in a tight container– it will keep for up to a month.}

And lastly, while this song didn’t accompany the creation of the tart, I think it perfectly embodies what an apple tart with toffee is all about.

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