Apple Rose Tartes Tatin

November 19, 2021
17 Ratings
Photo by Carolina Gelen
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

I can’t be the only one who sees a rose-shaped apple tart every time I log in to Pinterest, right? The presentation is cool, but the dessert never seemed super appealing to me. So I decided to play around with the concept—what could I add to make it better? Custard? Frangipane? Both seemed like too much work and waiting around.

And then the idea finally hit me: tarte tatin! This French dessert traditionally uses a skillet, but I’ve riffed on it to use a muffin pan instead.

These individual apple roses are as delicious as they are pretty. The glossy caramel preserves the beautiful floral shape, while the apple slices become jammy and custardy. And you only need a handful of ingredients, too: store-bought puff pastry, apples, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. If you’re feeling frisky, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a big pour of heavy cream.

Psst: If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight, then microwave for a quick, sweet treat in the morning.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Five Two Essential Kitchen Knives
- Nordic Ware Muffin Pan
- Airscape Glass Stackable Food Storage Containers

Carolina Gelen

What You'll Need
  • 2 large apples (such as Pink Lady, Fuji, or Honeycrisp)
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, beans scraped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line 6 cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin with circles of parchment paper.
  2. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, very thinly slice the apples around the core into half-moon slices 1 to 1½ millimeters thick. Soak them in just-boiled water for 3 to 5 minutes, until they become soft and bendable. Don’t worry about them oxidizing—they’ll brown anyway in the caramel.
  3. Roll out the pastry to 2 millimeters thick. Cut lengthwise into 6 strips. (Store-bought puff pastry usually comes folded into thirds, so you can use those creases as a guide.)
  4. Arrange one-sixth of the apple slices on the top half of each strip, then fold the pastry in half and press down, leaving the rounded, unpeeled edges of the apple slices exposed at the top.
  5. Roll up one apple-filled pastry strip to form a rose. Cut the excess dough off if necessary and pinch the end of the dough strip to seal. Repeat with the remaining strips.
  6. In a small pot over medium heat, gently stir the sugar with a splash of water (just enough to make the sugar look like wet sand), then use a wet brush to make sure there are no sugar granules on the side of the pan. Cook undisturbed for about 10 minutes, until the sugar caramelizes to a deep amber (you can tilt the pan if needed for even cooking, but avoid stirring). Mix in the vanilla and cinnamon.
  7. Pour 2 to 3 soup spoons of caramel into each muffin well. Arrange the apple roses upside down in each well.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the puff pastry is cooked through—it should feel firm to the touch, with a light golden color.
  9. Allow the roses to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Katie
  • JV
  • Chelle
  • Semisweet
Carolina is a resident at Food52. She's also one of the hosts of Choose Your Own Recipe Adventure, our YouTube show where our Food52 readers pick the ingredients and techniques for a brand new recipe. Carolina recently immigrated to the U.S. from Transylvania, a place she spent most of her life. She continues to get inspired by the classic Romanian and Hungarian foods she was raised on, creating approachable, colorful, and fun recipes. For more cooking ideas and candid moments, check out her Instagram @carolinagelen.

12 Reviews

Katie November 21, 2023
Here is the Instagram link to Carolina's video for this recipe:
JV December 31, 2022
I do agree with the comments, the caramel was a nightmare both to make and clean - recipe should’ve come with a warning, considering it’s for home cooks! My main issue though is that the pastry was raw on the inside. It seems the wetness from the apples and dense rolling prevented it from cooking and getting flaky - it was gooey. Next time I would make a softer caramel sauce that adds butter/cream (or buy some!), and a classic tarte tatin that just puts a thin layer of pastry on top. Not as pretty but at least it tastes better and fully cooks.

The method worked though in terms of looking just like the picture, and I’ve never baked before.
Chelle December 8, 2022
Delicious and beautiful!
Simple and easy the video on Instagram very helpful, maybe add it to this page!

Semisweet February 18, 2022
This recipe was delicious! I was looking for another great Carolina recipe and forgot that I never left a review for this one. Easy to make and I loved how the apples were caramelized, because the sweeter the better, for my taste. Quite lovely presentation too! I warmed these up the next day in the oven and they were great!
[email protected] January 30, 2022
Worse recipe I’ve ever attempted. Total failure at every step. Poorly written and it simply does not work.
Vic January 23, 2022
Delicious. Easy and straight forward. Not sure what all the fuss was about on the caramel. I’m sure my caramel didn’t come out perfectly as it was a disc in the bottom of the muffin cup. However, the tatin itself was wonderful and looked beautiful, with a sweet cinnamon caramel flavor. We served the caramel discs on the side and all was a hit!
Laura S. December 4, 2021
I was apprehensive about making the caramel, due to the notes others have left. I used a NYT caramel recipe, which called for cream, but having only whole milk, I used it. Meanwhile, thinking it was a recipe for 12 pieces, I rolled and cut pastry dough into 12 stripes. Best I can tell now, it's a recipe for 6 tartes. I would do this again, make 12 'units'. It allowed room for 'blooming' as a couple of people mentioned. Anyhow, I experimented, placing six pieces upside down, as instructed, and six upright. Long story short: the NYT caramel recipe was quite easy, (added a bit of butter and salt which I would do again--which came from a Flay recipe I had also found), and the flavors were excellent--- I used a bit more than half the total yield of caramel, putting it beneath and on top of each piece. I found pulling away the parchment 'damaged' the look of the rose, post cooking. Will coat the parchment with melted butter next time--- I'd like to get a bit better looking result, just to see if I can do it. I'm not put off of that my dessert did not look as lovely as what is pictured -- the flavor, the texture is 100. I used Honeycrisp apples, Dufour brand pastry, as well as added the 1 tsp of cinnamon and vanilla extract (not bean) to the caramel -- which is more or less in keeping with Gelen's recipe.
bunniya November 28, 2021
I would counter other reviews--I made these and they were a lovely success.
The caramel is challenging. Yes, it becomes hard candy when it cools; You just need to work quickly while it's hot. You can't wait around. (I feel it may have been written with the expectation that people generally know what happens when you make a caramel out of pure sugar.) Once it bakes, the moisture of the apples should help keep it more sticky instead of turning hard. Wash the pan quickly to clean any excess caramel. It may take a fair amount of hot water and soak time but even hardened parts will melt off.
I worked with muffin tins that were narrower at the bottom; The apples do not need to "bloom." What happens is that the parts of the apple face down in the caramel seem to cook even more and lose more moisture, so they become a bit thinner. When I flipped the roses out, the appearance came out naturally. If they didn't, I simply had to arrange the petals a bit to make it appear more open. They should be soft enough to do so. I think thinner apple slices are better.
My puff pastry was probably also not rolled thin enough, so my bases were actually a bit wide, but it wasn't too hard to make small adjustments (again, working quickly because the caramel was forming hard candy strings).
You can do it!
ST November 28, 2021
I’ve made plenty of caramel in my life, but I’ve never had so much trouble. This style of caramel is very tricky to pull off - the recipe really should offer more guidance and measurements to prevent crystallization. I wound up starting over with a Cooks Illustrated recipe. Be careful spooning the hot caramel into the muffin tin, especially if you’re wrangling floppy pieces of parchment. Messy and dangerous!
Karl R. November 27, 2021
I was excited to try this recipe but it was a disappointment.
1) The caramel cooks much more when the tarts are put into the oven so you have to stop your caramel early on the stovetop or else you end up with burnt caramel tarts.
2) Muffin tins are narrower on the bottom so inverting the tarts into the muffin cups will NOT result in a bloomed rose tart. It's not possible. How can a dish expand and bloom when it's constrained by the vessel. It's science folks.

I used to love Food 52 recipes but it seems that more and more these are not tested at all.
Isabel P. November 26, 2021
Very nice and easy!
jordan November 26, 2021
Making the caramel for this recipe was an absolute disaster, I almost ruined multiple bowls and a nice pan. It literally turned into hard candy. I did it exactly the way the recipe described, it either needs more thorough directions or some serious tweaking. I ended up making a quick 2:1 simple syrup with cinnamon and vanilla and using that instead to salvage.