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Apple Custard Tartlets with Caramel Sauce

by Saara

Tartlets are one of my favorite desserts. Simple and beautiful. You don’t have to make six of them, you can only prepare one and treat yourself with afternoon tea. Depending on the molds & mood, one can hit the spoon into a full portioned tartlet or snack little mini tartlets.

Tartlets are flexible when it comes to seasoning. Moreover, they are extra convenient when the sweet dough is already available – do you also keep pâtee sucrée ready in the freezer?

While I’m waiting for the newly harvested local apples, I have my eyes set on these apple custard tartlets which I made last autumn when one of my father’s apple trees was at the peak of harvest. There was no almond flour around, so this sweet dough is based on finely milled cake flour.

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Apple Custard Tartlets_My Vintage Cooking

In this post, you’ll find the full recipe for the tartlet base, custard filling as well as apple toppings & caramel sauce. For me, the recipe yielded 6 tartlets with these big vintage tart molds (my Grandma’s heritage molds). Plus, keep eyes open to catch a few tartlet tricks from the end of the post!


Apple Custard Minitarts

Apple Tartlets with Custard Filling & Caramel Sauce

Print recipe
Makes/Serves: 6
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat



  • 2 ½ dl wheat flour (finely milled)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbs confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 120 g butter (unsalted, cut into cubes)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp cold water



  • 350 ml whole milk
  • 35 g butter
  • 2 eggs (or 4 egg yolks if you prefer a more yellowish color)
  • 65 g brown sugar
  • 28 g cornstarch
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • Pinch of salt



  • 4-6 apples sliced
  • 140 g caster sugar
  • 40 g butter



Mix flour, sugars, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter cubes and massage the butter in with your fingers until the mixture looks granulated. Whisk egg yolks and cold water together before adding them into the mixture. If the dough feels too dry, add more cold water. If it gets too fluid, add flour. The dough should just about hold together and it's important not to overwork it.

Flip the dough on a (beeswax) wrap in which the dough can rest in the fridge. Hold on tight on the wrap edge closest to you while smearing the dough across the wrap with your other hand. Repeat this until the dough feels smooth. Form the dough into a ball shape. Keep it in wrap in the fridge for 2 hours minimum (preferably overnight).

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F. Before baking, estimate the amount of dough you need and freeze the rest. Let the cold dough sit on the table for 5 or so minutes before rolling.  Lightly grease the tartlet molds if needed. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to an even thickness. Then roll the dough over the mold edges. Fill and shape each mold at the time.

When the whole set of tartlets ready, place them on a rack or a baking tray. Prick the bottoms all over with the fork so that the base won't buff. Lastly, add the baking weight into molds (I use beans or rice on top of a shaped parchment paper or foil).

Bake in the oven 160°C / 320°F for 10-15 minutes in the middle rack until dry. Carefully lift the weights from the molds and bake 5 more minutes without the cover until the crust looks golden. Let the tartlets cool before adding any fillings.



Add milk and butter into a saucepan. While observing the mix to gently come to boil on low heat, start working on the thickening. Mix eggs, sugar, and cornstarch together in a bowl. When you see the milk mix steaming and almost simmering in the saucepan, remove it from the heat and slowly pour it into the eggs and sugar mixture.

Transfer the mix back to the pan and add the scraped vanilla bean seeds. Test the taste and add sugar if you prefer it sweeter. Gently stir the mixture until you see it thickens (10 minutes). Pour the custard (through a sieve if necessary) into a glass bowl. Let it rest under a cover and stir it a couple of times when it cools.



In a pan on medium heat, warm up the caster sugar until it melts. Protect your pan & avoid stirring until the sugar has fully melted. Let the sugar get a brownish color before adding the butter. On low heat, sauté the apple slices in the caramel sauce until soft.

Let the apple slices chill on a plate before setting the tartlets ready. You can leave the caramel sauce in the pan for the time being or pour it into a smaller saucepan. You probably need to pre-heat the sauce before pouring it on top of the tartlets.

Did you make this recipe?
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Custard tartlets with caramelized apples

3 Tartlet Tricks to have in one’s Sleeve

  1. The nitty grittiness of the almond flour. The shortcrust used here is without almond flour. The ratio is based on a recipe I found & loved in my 90s French cookbook by Clements and Wolf-Cohen*.  Not very vintage in terms of history I know,  retro to say the least, but the recipe has proven its place when no almond flour is at hand.
  2. Play with color and tone. Custard is prepared with whole eggs and not yolks. This is because I anticipated that the only egg yolk based custard would match the crust. A boring tonal range is a risk when it comes to apple tartlets so whole eggs it was.
  3. Consistency. Thanks to sturdier consistency with the whole egg custard, the heavy caramelized apple toppings do not sink into the tartlet but stay on top of it (as you can see in the photos).

Luckily apples are available all year round

These are so relaxed and delicious desserts when everything is ready to be just combined together. The custard is not too sweet thanks to brown sugar and the caramel sauce brings deeper tones to every mouthful. My hubby is not a sweet tooth like me which is why I feel extra successful when he falls in love with new dessert combinations.

By the way, if you’re serving a bigger group, the tartlets can be filled a couple of hours in advance. And a filled tartlet survives in the fridge of course but the crust will moist.

How to build the tartlet is up to one’s own liking & molds used. Do you want more custard or more apples? Maybe you’re patient and free enough to shape an apple rose or other patterns with the slices.

Now that I’m writing this, I have completely forgotten the apple variety I used here. This is because this was only the second summer with Father’s new tree and actually the first proper harvest with it. The apples that I chose, though, were almost ripe. This year I will be using apple varieties from our own cottage garden, how fun!

I would love to hear what apples you prefer to use in baking! I’ve been told the russets are amazing in the UK but I have not found them here in Finland.

Love, Saara

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