- 1-10 inch circle of Puff Pastry, about 1/8 inch thick, or 1-10 inch round pie dough, about 1/8 inch thick
- 1/4 cup best quality cider vinegar or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup real maple syrup
- 10 firm apples (about 3 lbs.), such as Empire or Granny Smith
- 1 stick of unsalted butter (4 ounces), cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- whipped cream, ice cream or crème fraîche for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 ℉.
Combine the vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup of the maple syrup in a large bowl. Peel an apple, cut it in half from core to stem end, scoop out the core with a spoon or melon baller, then submerge it in the maple-vinegar mixture. Repeat with the remaining apples, working one at a time (this ensures the apples don’t oxidize and turn brown).
￼Put a heavy 8-9 inch oven-safe skillet (cast iron works well) on medium heat to warm up, then add the butter and turn down the heat to medium-low. Add the sugar and the remaining maple syrup, stir for a moment and then cook for a minute or two until the sugar melts. Arrange the apples concentrically stem-side down, packing them in tightly so they stand up – they will shrink as they cook. Pour the remaining vinegar-syrup mixture over them.
Turn the heat back to medium-high so the liquid bubbles a bit, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface and shaking the pan occasionally so the apples don’t stick. Cook, monitoring the pan carefully so the apples don’t scorch, until the liquid has reduced and become thickened and darker brown, about 1/2 hour – 45 minutes. Remove from heat.
Prick the puff pastry or pie dough all over with a fork, then place it on top of the apples in the pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 1/2 hour until the pastry is golden and cooked through.
Remove the tart from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool off a little. Run a knife around the edge of the tart to loosen it from the pan. Place a serving plate over the top of the pan. Using pot holders and being very careful not to splatter yourself as you do so, flip the pan over so the tart falls out on to the platter. If any apples stick to the bottom of the pan, carefully remove them from the pan with a spatula and place it on the tart. Serve immediately with whipped cream, ice cream or crème fraîche, if desired.