Toffee Apple Tart

toffeeappletartthumb.jpgThis is a recipe for a biscuit based tart topped with a fresh toffee-flavoured apple compote

The Recipe

toffeeappletart20.jpg

Ingredients:

  • For The Base
  • 180g Sweet biscuits (digestive, ginger snaps, etc)
  • 70g Unsalted butter
  • For The Filling
  • 700g Peeled and cored apples (700g after peeling - about 8 or 9 medium apples)
  • 175g White sugar
  • 75ml Water
  • 2 Tablespoons custard powder (or 2 tablespoons of cornflour/cornstarch plus a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
  • To Serve (Optional)
  • Fresh cream, or ice cream, or creme fraiche

Method:

toffeeappletart1.jpgPut the biscuits (I used a mixture of Digestives, ginger snaps and malted milk) in a large non-fragile bowl.

Crush them with the end of a rolling pin, or the base of a mug, or any flat, sturdy object.

Keep going until the biscuits are all reduced to crumbs (shake the bowl every now and again and the large unbroken pieces will emerge at the top). 

toffeeappletart2.jpgPrepare a suitable tin - the best sort for a tart with this kind of base is the kind with a bottom that lifts out.

Use a 20cm (8 inch) tin - it's also useful to line it with parchment paper or (as here) a circle of reusable nonstick liner.

toffeeappletart3.jpgGently melt the butter (don't let it sizzle or boil) in a pan.

Pour it into the bowl with the crumbs and mix thoroughly.

toffeeappletart4.jpgTransfer the buttery biscuit base mixture into the tin.

Press it down firmly all around with a flat object - I find the base of a drinking glass ideal for this.

Put the tin in the fridge for at least half an hour to set the butter and create a firm base.

toffeeappletart5.jpgPeel and core the apples.

If you want to prevent them browning, put the cut pieces straight into a bowl of water which has a little lemon juice or wine vinegar added - but this is not essential, as the caramel in the pie will make the tart golden brown in colour anyway.

Beware - Hot Sugar!

The next steps involve melting sugar to make caramel - this gets considerably hotter than boiling water (although it may not look it).

Be very careful - hot molten sugar sticks to skin and will burn badly. It's not a bad idea to fill a sink with cold water before starting, so you can plunge your hand straight into it in the case of an accident.

toffeeappletart6.jpgPut the sugar into a large saucepan and melt it over a medium heat.

Don't stir the sugar until at least the point where there is a molten layer on the bottom.

If the contents start to sizzle or smoke, turn the heat down.

toffeeappletart7.jpgKeep going until the sugar is completely molten and has turned a rich golden brown colour.

toffeeappletart8.jpgSpoon a little of the molten caramel onto a metal tray - a few tablespoonsful should do.

Remember that this will be very hot.

toffeeappletart9.jpgReturn the pan to the heat and make sure the molten sugar is quite liquid.

Then, exercising great caution, add the water into the pan. It will boil and sizzle quite furiously - stand back until this subsides, then stir with a long handled spoon until the water and molten sugar have mixed to form a caramel syrup.

Turn off the heat for a moment.

If the caramel doesn't dissolve into the water properly, don't worry...

Caramel Problems

Caramel syrup can be a bit scary to make, and sometimes it can go a bit wrong - the key thing is to make sure it doesn't go wrong dangerously - so stand back when you add the water to the molten sugar.

Unfortunately, this sometimes means there can be a lump of toffee-like caramel that won't dissolve easily.

toffeeappletart18.jpgIf this happens, just remove the chunk of caramel from the pan and add in an equivalent weight of sugar, then reheat and stir to dissolve it.

toffeeappletart10.jpgShred the apples into small pieces (but don't completely pulp them).

I used the pulse setting on a food processor for this, but it could just be done by hand with a large knife and a chopping board, or you could grate them coarsely using a box grater.

toffeeappletart11.jpgPut the shredded apple in a clean bowl and add the custard powder.

Stir with a spoon to mix the powder in as evenly as possible.

Add this mixture to the large pan containing the caramel syrup.

toffeeappletart12.jpgTurn on the heat and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon.

Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes - juice will come out of the apples, making the mixture quite wet and runny, but then the cornflour in the custard powder will start to thicken it.

Simmer until the apple is softened, but still slightly crisp, and the mixture has thickened to the point that it will heap up on the spoon.

Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool for at least ten minutes.

toffeeappletart13.jpgTransfer the mixture into the tin on top of the biscuit base.

It shouldn't be boiling hot when you do this, or it will melt the butter and the base may break up or become saturated by the apple juice.

Smooth the apple layer out with a spatula so that it is even and level.

toffeeappletart15.jpgBy this point, the caramel spooned onto the metal tray should be cool and solid.

There are two options here - either put the caramel in an airtight container, then chop it and sprinkle it over the top of the tart immediately before serving - in which case, it will add a delicious toffee apple-style crunch.

toffeeappletart16.jpgOr alternatively, - chop it up and add it on top of the apple layer while it is warm - and it will dissolve to form a delicious syrupy caramel glaze.

Either way, put the tin back in the fridge and chill it for at least 4 hours - this will allow the topping to set into a very delicate gel, with delicious semi-crisp apple pieces suspended in it.

To remove the tart from the tin, run a knife around the inside edge, then rest the base on something tall with a flat top - I used a pint glass.

The side of the tin should push down to reveal the tart - which can then be transferred carefully to a plate.

toffeeappletart19.jpg

 

Serve wedges of the tart with ice cream, fresh cream or tangy creme fraiche.

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