Caramel Apple Cider Tart / by Chelsea Zwieg

Have you ever had one of those days? The ones where you come home from work and the mouse you barricaded in your closet the night before is still there. And then 5 minutes later you cut your finger open (basically off) on a box and realize that all the bandaids are in the closet with the mouse. And then the beautiful tart you made for your blog got messed up in the refrigerator overnight and you have to make a new one. So you suck it up, pull out the ingredients, turn on your space heater (because you can't feel your feet) and put some water in the microwave for tea. But then the space heater and the microwave is too much to ask of one power strip and you blow a fuse. And then when you come back upstairs after visiting the fusebox in the creepy basement, you take your tea out of the microwave to see if it is warm enough and it spills all over your counter, floor and entire right hand thereby affirming that a) it is definitely still boiling and b) you are dumber than you thought.

I hope for your sake that the specifics are a little different, but we've all been there. The days where there is no other explanation but that the the entire universe has chosen this day to conspire against you all for the sake of a good laugh. At least that's how it looks when I'm in the basement flipping breakers while holding a wadded up paper towel to my bloody hand. But then I calm down. Take a breath, eat some tart and start to see things a little differently. 

When I'm in the moment, I seem to forget how lucky I really am. Like the fact that the box that cut my finger was a surprise package from my mom with a brand new air popper for popcorn (aka my favorite thing to eat ever). And the water that actually made it into my tea maker made a cup of my favorite cinnamon tea. And the fact that I'm cold can be solved so quickly by plugging in my space heater. And the mouse in my closet is barricaded there and not running around my kitchen because my landlord is nice enough to come over within 20 minutes of said mouse sighting, set traps and reestablish my ridiculous, over the top barricade system. And messing up the ganache of one tart leaves me with TWO tarts, which is something I am in no position to complain about. 

So the moral of the story is, my life is not nearly as bad as I would be led to believe in the heat of the finger bleeding, fuse blowing, hand burning moment. I just need to work on realizing it a little sooner to the actual moment, you know? 

But about this tart, MAKE IT. Make it tonight, and then again this weekend, and then three-peat that thing for Thanksgiving. It starts with a buttery, crumbly shortbread crust. This is my go to crust for all tarts and I went through a serious tart making phase for a few years there. It comes together in the food processor in two minutes, it doesn't require any fancy pie weights and yet it doesn't shrink up in the oven, thanks to some time in the freezer before baking.

The crust is then filled with gooey, apple cider caramel. The apple cider takes all the good things about caramel (buttery, brown sugary goodness) and adds the spices and slight tanginess of cider. It just IS fall. This is then topped with a layer of creamy, bittersweet chocolate ganache and finished with a sprinkle of really salty peanuts (because no caramel apple is complete without peanuts, in my opinion). 

So let's eat some tart and remember that life really is so so good. The joke is on you, universe, because I've got mouse traps, bandaids and two whole tarts. 

Caramel Apple Cider Tart

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 1 14"x4" rectangular tart

Ingredients |

For the crust: 

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 tbsp. (or more) cold water

For the caramel: 

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

For the ganache:

  • 4 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60%), chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salted peanuts, for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375. Grease and flour a 14x4 rectangular tart pan and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, powdered sugar and salt. Add butter chunks and pulse until the mixture resembles a very coarse meal, with very few chunks of butter. Slowly add water and pulse until the dough just begins to clump together. Squeeze a bit of dough between your fingers. If it is too dry to stay together, add more water by teaspoons until it sticks together. Press dough into prepared tart pan. Freeze crust for 20-30 minutes. This will prevent it from shrinking in the oven. Remove from freezer, pierce all over with a fork and bake 30 minutes until golden brown. If crust puffs up while baking, pierce additional holes with a fork. Cool crust in pan. 
  • Meanwhile, boil apple cider in a saucepan over high heat until it reduces to a dark thick syrup, about 1/2 cup. Once cider is reduced, adjust heat to medium and add both sugars and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high and boil, without stirring, for 8 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to prevent sticking and boiling over. Remove pan from heat and stir in cream, whisking to remove any clumps. Return pan to heat and stir in butter, apple cider vinegar and salt. Stir until butter is melted and the caramel thickens slightly. It should be a little thinner than caramel sauce. Pour finished caramel into the cooled tart shell. Refrigerate until completely cooled, about 1 hour. 
  • After the caramel has cooled and set, make the ganache. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Place cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes, without stirring. Stir together with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth. Pour over tart, smoothing with a spatula. Sprinkle with peanuts. Cool completely, allowing the ganache to set, before serving. Store in refrigerator.