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Apple Tarte Tatin with Cranberry Caramel

Alex Guarnaschelli's Apple Tarte Tatin on Today Show, November 23, 2016
Alex Guarnaschelli's Apple Tarte TatinNathan R Congleton / TODAY

Chef notes

This is one of the simplest and tastiest desserts on the planet and the cranberry caramel makes it unique and dramatically beautiful. You will certainly “wow” when you bring this to the table. Don’t worry about the imperfections! In fact, the original story for this dessert tells a tale of two sisters who dropped the tart on the floor and served it, in essence, upside down. Enjoy the great flavors and is certainly a great show piece in a sea of classic pies.

Use a firm apple. Any one you like. I like Granny Smith or Rome apples the most.

For the puff pastry, also perfectly fine to buy a square sheet larger than the pan and drape it over the apples.

Equipment Needed: 1 8-inch cast iron (or thick-bottomed, ovenproof skillet


  • 12 Granny Smith or Rome apples, peeled, halved and cored
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • One 10-11-inch store-bought puff pastry “round”
Cranberry caramel
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 heaping cups cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


For the apple tarte tatin: 

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Make the caramel (see below). Remove the skillet from the heat and begin arranging the apple halves in a circular shape around the borders of the pan. Fill the center part of the skillet with a smaller circle of the apples. Fill in any gaps with the smaller top and bottom pieces. Because the fruit will shrink considerably as it cooks, it is better to crowd the pan with fruit.

Cook the fruit: Place the skillet on the heat again and, with the heat fairly high, cook until the fruit starts to become tender on the bottom and soak up the caramel at the bottom, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat again and turn each apple piece halfway so the top parts of the fruit are now soaking in the caramel on the bottom. Return the skillet to the heat and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Roll the dough up in the rolling pin like a parchment scroll and roll it over the skillet. Tuck the dough edges inside the skillet so it covers the fruit. It is as if you are tucking the fruit into a pastry bed.

Bake and unmold: Place the skillet in the center of the oven and bake until the pastry browns, 15-20 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and allow cooling for only 5-10 minutes as it unmolds more easily when hot. Pour the excess caramel into a bowl by tilting the skillet and reserve it. Place a platter over the pastry topping and flip the tart on to the plate. You can do it! Pour the reserved caramel back over the tart. If any fruit remains in the bottom of the skillet, simply dislodge it and insert it any fruit gaps before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

For the cranberry caramel: 

In a large skillet, simmer the sugar, water, cranberries and vinegar over high heat for 4-5 minutes or until the cranberries burst and the liquid thickens. Cool 5-10 minutes. Pour over the apple tart warm, just before serving.