This vegan apple tarte Tatin is a dairy-free version of the beloved French dessert. Caramelized sugar, flaky puff pastry and sweet juicy apples are the main components of this traditional tarte. And, while it may appear complex, I can assure you this classic recipe is anything but.
This post is sponsored by Cosmic Crisp® Washington state apples however all thoughts and opinions are my own.
What is a Tarte Tatin?
Tarte Tatin or the “tarte des demoiselles Tatin” is a classic French dessert with a curious backstory. The Tatin sisters, who ran a French inn, neglected to add a bottom crust to their apple tart.
Instead of start over, they placed the crust on the top and served the tart upside-down. This fortunate mishap naturally became the famed French dessert we know today.
Variations of the apple tarte Tatin exist, however, there are only 4 main components in every version: apples, caramelized sugar, butter and puff pastry. While its assembly is a tad peculiar, once inverted, this dessert reveals luminous rings of caramel glazed apples atop a flaky puff pastry crust.
Why you will love this version
This vegan apple tarte Tatin recipe is:
- Made from 5 basic ingredients
- Elegant yet surprisingly easy to make
- Perfect for a celebration or everyday dessert
- Diary-free and vegan friendly
- Filled with tart and sweet apples, cinnamon and buttery pastry
- A cozy and inviting dessert for autumn or winter time
What you will need
The ingredient list for this recipe consists of the following five items:
- Fresh, ripe apples (a baking variety is key)
- Granulated sugar
- Butter (dairy-free is my preference)
- Shortening based puff pastry (store bought is perfectly acceptable)
- Ground cinnamon
How to make this recipe
While this vegan tarte Tatin may look laborious, it's rather simple to make. The most time consuming step is preparing the apples and caramelizing the sugar. Once the apples are prepped, you can begin making the caramel which takes roughly 6 minutes.
Next, roll out the puff pastry then cut it into a circle about 1” larger than the cake tin. The caramel is added to a cake pan and the apple halves are arranged on top.
The puff pastry is placed over top of the apples and the tarte is baked for 45-55 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown. The tarte needs up to an hour to cool in the pan to allow the caramel to thicken.
Once the caramel has thickened, the tarte is inverted and left to cool until warm. Then, it can be portioned and served with dairy-free whipped cream or ice cream.
Choose the right apple variety
The right apple variety is very important. Not all apples are equal when it comes to baking and, more specifically, for making tarte Tatin. Mushy grainy apples are not a pleasant mouthfeel and will make your tarte Tatin somewhat unappealing (no pun intended).
In order for an apple variety to be suitable for this recipe, it should be:
- Firm so it holds its shape during baking
- Sweet and tart so it add additional flavour and helps balance the sweet caramel and buttery pastry
And while there are currently several apple varieties on the market that work for baking, I am really fond of Cosmic Crisp® apples for this recipe; they embody all the above qualities, and then some.
My family and I fell in love with Cosmic Crisps last year and am happy to bring this recipe to you in partnership with them again.
Cosmic Crisp Washington state apples
Cosmic Crisp® Washington state apples are a non-GMO, classically bred apple grown in the Pacific Northwest. They are a cross between Enterprise and Honeycrisp apples which makes them sweet, large and juicy with a remarkably firm and crisp texture.
Moreover, Cosmic Crisp® apples are crispier and sweeter than other varieties, and they are naturally slow to brown. As a result, they are a favourite of both consumers and chefs for their perfectly balanced flavor, texture, juiciness and striking color.
Lastly, not only are they perfect baking apples, Cosmic Crisps are excellent for snacking due to their sweetness and crispy texture. They offer exceptional eating quality, a large fruit size, attractiveness and versatility- all things to look for in the perfect apple!
In a nutshell, Cosmic Crisp apples are a flawless combination of taste, texture, and usability- they are certainly my new favourite apple!
Cosmic Crisps– The Perfect Tarte Tatin apple
I have been making tarte Tatin for many years and know the importance of a good apple for this recipe. Today, Cosmic Crisps are my favourite apple for this recipe for the following reasons.
Primarily, they withstand the heat of the oven and maintain their shape remarkably well. No one wants to turn out a tarte Tatin to have mealy, mushy apples- fruit structure is integral to a good tarte Tatin.
Secondly, I would often use a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning while I make the caramel. However, because Cosmic Crisps are naturally slow to brown, this step and ingredient can be eliminated.
Moreover, along with being sweet, Cosmic Crisp apples were carefully cultivated to contain higher levels of tartness (acidity) which makes for a flavorful and balanced apple that rounds out the sweet caramel and buttery puff pastry.
Important tips to help you perfect this recipe
Use the best quality baking apples- they should be blemish free, firm and an appropriate variety for baking. Again, I love Cosmic Crisps here.
Keep apples at peak freshness - apples are best when you keep them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator before baking. Store apples at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) in a breathable produce bag to help keep them at peak freshness before using them in this recipe. Your refrigerator’s crisper is the best place to store Cosmic Crisp® apples.
Keep puff pastry chilled until ready to use it– this will help it puff beautifully in the oven and keep it easy to work with.
Use a solid cake pan, not a spring-form pan–the caramel needs to remain inside the pan; a spring-form will leak.
Do not stir the sugar–add the sugar to the pan and let it liquefy partially without stirring. Stirring too early can cause the sugar to crystalize. Gently whisk it once it starts liquefying to incorporate all the sugar.
Use cold butter-this will help stop the caramel from over-browning.
Overlap the apples in the pan– they will soften when baked so it’s important to overlap them rather tightly.
Cut the puff pastry 1” larger than the baking pan–this will allow you to tuck the pastry around the apple slices in the baking pan.
Tuck the puff pastry in fairly neatly– this will help contain the caramel to the tart once inverted rather than it pooling onto the serving plate.
Don’t leave the tart in the pan too long- once baked, the caramel will cool and make it harder to remove the tart Tatin from the pan. Leave it for anywhere between 30-60 minutes (possibly longer) and then invert it onto your serving plate. See below for more information on this step.
Watch out for hot caramel – caramel glaze can be piping hot so please use care when making, plating and serving this recipe.
How long should I wait before inverting?
It’s hard to give an exact time frame for this step. Basically, you want the caramel to set up so it has thickened, but not so much so that the cake sticks to the pan. This could take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes or longer depending on your ambient room temperature.
To test whether the caramel has thickened enough, I like to carefully and gently tilt the baking pan about 15-20 degrees until I see the caramel come up the side. From there, I can then get an idea of how thick the caramel is getting. I invert this recipe once the caramel starts to slowly creep up the side when gently titled as per above.
You can hasten the thickening time by placing the tarte on top of a cold surface. Be sure to check it every 5-10 minutes to make sure the caramel doesn't become to sticky.
This vegan tarte tatin is best served within a few hours of inverting, however, be very careful not to serve it right out of the oven; the caramel will be extremely hot and can very easily cause a burn to you or your guests. Invert the tarte after the suggested resting time, then let it sit until it is only warm and not hot.
Unsweetened crème fraiche is the most traditional accompaniment, however, in this case you could offer a slice with dairy-free whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Storing & make ahead notes
You can prepare the puff pastry round several hours before you plan to bake the tarte tatin, however, be sure to keep it refrigerated on a lightly floured baking tray.
You can also prepare the apples up to an hour before baking. However, if you’re not using Cosmic Crisp apples, you will need to squeeze lemon juice over the apples to ensure they don’t brown.
This vegan apple tarte Tatin is best served the same day and preferably within an hour of inverting.
Where to Find Cosmic Crisp® apples
Cosmic Crisp® apples are available across Canada at most major grocery stores. Ask for them at your local grocer or look for the Cosmic Crisp stand in the fresh produce section. You can also follow along on Facebook @CosmicCrisp or Instagram @thecosmiccrisp or hashtag #AppleOfBigDreams #CosmicCrisp. As always, many thanks for supporting brands that help make The Simple Green possible.
Looking for More Apple Recipes?
If you enjoy this vegan apple tarte Tatin, you may also enjoy some of these reader favorites:
Vegan Apple Tarte Tatin
This vegan apple tarte Tatin is a dairy-free version of the classic French dessert. Caramelized sugar, flaky puff pastry, butter and apples make this a simple yet elegant dessert. This recipe comes together fairly quickly and makes for a perfect celebration or everyday dessert. Serve with dairy-free whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- 5-6 (700g) large apples (a variety suitable for baking) peeled, halved and cored
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon plant-based butter of choice + more for pan
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and chilled (shortening based)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9” round high-sided cake pan with dairy-free butter and set aside.
Prepare the Caramel
To a large skillet or saucepan, add the granulated sugar. Heat the sugar over medium until the sugar starts to partially liquefy and turn amber (about 3-4 minutes). During this time, try not to stir the sugar otherwise it can re-crystalize. Once the sugar is partially liquefied, whisk it until all the sugar granules are fully liquefied and the sugar is a medium amber colour (see photo).
Whisk the cold butter and cinnamon into the caramel until fully incorporated (watch out for splatter). Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully pour it into the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Watch out because the caramel is extremely hot and the cake pan will become very hot as well (use oven mitts when handling). Set the cake pan on a trivet and set aside for 10 minutes while your prepare the pastry.
Prepare the Puff Pastry & Arrange the Apples
On lightly floured surface, roll the cold puff pastry until it is ⅛” thick. Then trim the puff pastry so that it is approximately ¾-1" larger than the cake pan. Set aside.
Arrange the apple halves on top of the caramel in a tightly overlapping ring around the outside edge, then add one in the centre (see photo). Place the puff pastry over top of the apples and carefully tuck the overhang around the apples (again, watch out because the pan will be hot). Next add 4 small slits in the puff pastry to allow for steam to escape.
Bake, Cool and Invert
Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes. The pastry should be golden brown, the apples soft and the caramel should be bubbling (the pastry will shrink a bit so you should be able to see some of the apples and caramel).
Remove the tarte Tatin from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack for 30-60 minutes, or until the caramel has thickened a good amount (see notes below for reference on when the caramel has thickened enough).
Carefully place a large serving plate on top of the cake pan. Next, grab both the cake pan and serving plate together (use oven mitts if the pan is still hot) and swiftly invert the pan and plate in one move so that the cake tin is sitting on top of the plate (you should hear the tart fall onto the plate). Carefully lift off the cake pan to reveal the finished tarte Tatin.
Allow the tarte to cool until it is just warm. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
On when to invert: It’s hard to give an exact time frame for this step. Basically, you want the caramel to set up so it has thickened, but not so much so that the cake sticks to the pan. This could take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes or longer depending on your ambient room temperature. If you invert too soon, the caramel will still be quite liquefied and pool onto the serving plate.
To test whether the caramel has thickened enough, I like to carefully and gently tilt the baking pan about 15-20 degrees until I see the caramel come up the side. From there, I can then get an idea of how thick it is. I invert this recipe once the caramel starts to slowly creep up the side when gently titled as per above so it remains mostly on the tart.