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Preheat the oven to 400F.
Place the sugar, apple cider, and vanilla bean pod AND seeds in a 10 inch stainless steel skillet.* Turn the heat to low and let it sit while you prepare the apples.
Peel and core the apples to remove all the skin, seeds, and stems. Slice each apple in half, then each half into quarters. You should have eight pieces per apple.
Return to the caramel. At this point the sugar should be dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium, and watch as the mixture begins to turn light brown, which should take about 5 minutes. Do not stir at any point. Cook the mixture for another minute or two until it become a deep amber color, making sure to use your eyes and nose to check for any signs of potential burning. Once the caramel is a deep amber, turn the heat to low and add the butter, two tablespoons at a time. Use a spatula to stir the butter in until incorporated.
Add the apple slices carefully to the caramel, making sure not to burn your fingers. Keep in mind that it will look like too many apples at first, but they will cook down. Turn the heat back to medium and cook for 15 minutes, until the apples have cooked down and softened slightly.
Lightly flour a work surface and roll the pie crust big enough that you can cut a 10 inch circle. I lay another 10" skillet on top and trace around it using a paring knife to get a perfectly circular piece. If you don't get a nice circle, don't worry, you can just tuck the excess pastry inside the frying pan.
Place the pie crust on top of the apples, then bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Let the tart cool for 20 minutes, then place your serving platter on top of the pan, and invert using oven mitts. If the tart doesn’t seem to want to come out, let it cool for 10 more minutes and try again. Serve** and enjoy!