This Dulce de Leche Apple Tart has a sweet shortbread crust, a hidden layer of creamy dulce de leche and fresh, sliced apples. An easy fall baking dessert, mix up your apple dessert routine with this beautiful tart!
I love apple desserts, in every shape and form! There’s nothing like a crisp apple to welcome the fall season. I feel like apple season gets a bit overlooked as most people head straight toward the pumpkin after Labor Day hits. Hey, don’t get me wrong- I’m always down for pumpkin anything, but we should take some time to bask in the moment of the apple, first!This beautiful tart needs only with a few simple ingredients and gives you the perfect ‘almost fall’ feels. Creamy, smooth dulce de leche shares the stage with fresh, crisp apples on this tart. I opted to make my own DDL but you could absolutely use store bought.
The crust for this tart is very buttery and has just the right amount of crumble. I love using this tart crust for all kinds of recipes.
Quick moment of truth- I actually had made a really great video for you guys on how I made the DDL and this recipe, but… I accidentally deleted it. Total rookie mistake, I know! I’ll try to make it up to you with a thorough description! I’ll be putting a video back on my to-do list to add later. 🙂
How to make homemade Dulce de Leche, not in a can
This is my preferred method for making dulce de leche at home. Upon doing research for this, I found that most recipes called for something like this: open a can of sweetened condensed milk, place the can in boiling water either on the stove, the oven or in an Instant Pot. Cook until the milk until dark in color.
Couldn’t be easier right? My issue with the above method is the fact that the DDL is cooked directly in the can. From what I learned growing up, it is potentially unsafe to do this as chemicals could leech out from the can or can lining and into your food. Here’s a short article explaining the risks.
It took some time of digging on the Internet to find a method that did not involve using the can or stirring the milk in a pot on a stove (cause I didn’t want to do that either!). I landed on a REALLY easy method that I wanted to share so you could give it a try.
This method uses your oven and a glass pie dish. Simply pour the sweetened condensed milk into the dish, cover with foil, place it in a water bath and bake for about 70-80 minutes. It’s almost as easy as boiling the can method, but totally safe from leeched can-chemicals. If you make DDL often, I would advise to invest in a glass pie dish to do it in.
One word of caution- I ended up over-baking my dulce de leche a little bit, which caused the edges to harden slightly. Once you hit the 1 hour mark, be sure to check on it in the oven to see if it is done baking (if it’s brown all the way through). Otherwise, it could overcook.
I wasn’t about to waste perfectly good dulce de leche, so I mixed it up and added a bit of cream to bring it back to life. It worked just fine for this recipe!
How to make this tart
Back to making this lovely Dulce de Leche Apple Tart! It is such an easy fall dessert recipe. The crust is basically a shortbread cookie dough, but its a little bit on the sweeter side. You don’t even need to crack an egg! Simply mix the butter, sugar, flour and salt until a dough forms. Gently press it into your tart pan.
Next, spread on the dulce de leche and topped with sliced apples.
To prep the apples, I sliced them at slightly less than 1/8 of an inch on a mandolin (my favorite kitchen tool). The goal was not to make the top of this tart gooey, like an apple pie. At 1/8″, the apple slices are so thin that they dried out a bit in the oven while the tart crust baked. I wanted to add a contrasting texture to offset the smooth and soft and creamy dulce de leche. Since the juices mostly evaporate, this tart slices very cleanly, making for a beautiful presentation. If you think you’d rather have the apples a bit softer to still retain some of that juiciness, I would slice them thicker, maybe 1/4″ or so.
There’s not a lot of spices in this recipe; just some good ol’ cinnamon (I prefer Ceylon Cinnamon or “True Cinnamon) which pairs so nicely with the dulce de leche.
My husband and I couldn’t get enough of this simple apple tart. It has all the flavors of “almost fall” and the dulce de leche adds so much richness. So good!!
Dulce de Leche Apple Tart
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened at room temp
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Dulce de Leche
- ⅓ c dulce de leche if making your own, you'll need one 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
- 2 medium baking apples honeycrisp, braeburn, winesap are all good choices!
- 1 tsp cinnamon preferably ceylon cinnamon
How to Make Dulce de Leche
- Preheat the oven to 425° and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Pour the sweetened condesned milk into an ungreased glass pie dish (9" deep dish if available, regular depth can work).
- Cover the pie dish tightly with foil and place in a deep roasting pan.
- Create a water bath by pouring hot water into the roasting pan, filling it up so it reaches halfway up the pie dish.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- After time is up, check on the water level. Add more hot water if necessary to keep the water level halfway up the dish. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until the milk is thick and brown.
- Remove pie dish from the water bath and cool on a wire rack. This recipe makes about 1 ¼ cups of dulce de leche and the tart only need ⅓ cup, so be sure to enjoy those leftovers!!
To Make the Tart
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Wash and core your apples. Slice into ⅛-¼" slices depending on how thick you want them. ⅛" will produce a drier apple after baking while ¼" will retain a little more juice.
- Put the apple slices in a medium bowl; toss with the cinnamon and set aside.
- Set aside a tart shell pan and place on top of a sheet pan (this will make it easier to handle). No need to prep or grease the pan.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and the salt. Mix just until combined.
- At a low mixing speed, gradually add the flour, mixing just until combined. The dough should form large crumbles.
- Transfer the dough to the tart pan and press the dough firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan.
- Spread the dulce de leche over the dough, but not all the way to the edge. Leave some room!
- Arrange the sliced apples, covering the entire top of the tart.
- Bake tart for 45-50 minutes or until light golden brown.
- After baking, allow to cool. Remove from the pan and cut into wedges or bars.