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Apple Cranberry Caramel Tarts

November 10, 2010

Apple Cranberry Caramel Tarts

Fact: I do not like pie crust.

Shocking, I know, but if there is one thing you will never see on this site, it’s a perfect pie crust. Or any traditional pie crust, really. I just don’t like the stuff. Oh sure, I will eat pie if you put it in front of me, but I will most likely just eat the filling and skip everything else. It’s nothing personal. Unless you are pie crust, then it’s totally personal.

Fact: I love cranberries.

I eat them all the time and I can’t get enough of them. Apples are pretty tasty too, and the combination of apples and cranberries? Wow.

Fact: Caramel is delicious.

Right? It’s hard to go wrong with sugar, butter and heavy cream.

Apple Cranberry Caramel Tarts

These Apple Cranberry Caramel Tarts have been floating around in my head for weeks now. I was craving something like apple pie, but not actually apple pie because of my previously mentioned pie crust issues. Once I got my hands on some apples at a local orchard and found a non-traditional pie crust recipe I thought would taste good, I got to work. Only I had no idea what I was actually making until I was done. I just kept adding flavors and things I liked until I felt like it was done.

Lucky for me, it worked. These tarts are everything I hoped they would be! First of all, they smell heavenly while baking, a warm apple cinnamon and nutty aroma that I wish I could bottle and sell. I’d be a millionaire. Second, they taste fantastic. The crust is crisp and salty sweet, which pairs so well with the softened fruit and sweet caramel. It’s a bit like eating an upsidedown fruit cobbler, in a way. I can’t wait to make this recipe again to share with my family for Thanksgiving!

Apple Cranberry Caramel Tarts

Apple Cranberry Caramel Tarts

Crust adapted from Shiny Cooking
Makes four 4-inch tarts OR one 9-inch tart

This recipe will also make one 9-inch tart, but you may want to add an extra apple to the filling. I’ve used local Fuji apples and Honeycrisp apples, but any other firm cooking apple should work too. I don’t recommend Granny Smith – they get mushy. You can substitute walnuts for the pecans in the crust, if you prefer.

Crust Ingredients

1 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling Ingredients

1 lb apples, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
pinch of salt

Caramel Sauce (recipe below, optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread chopped pecans and oats evenly on an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and just lightly browned. (Don’t over brown!) Cool at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Combine oats and nuts with brown sugar, salt and melted butter in food processor and pulse until dough is finely ground and sticks together. Divide equally among four 4-inch tart pans, pressing firmly into bottoms and up sides of pans. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook apples, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, stirring occasionally, until butter has melted and a sauce forms, about 5 minutes. Stir in cranberries. Cook another 5-10 minutes, until apples are softened and cranberries are just starting to pop. Remove from heat. Stir in heavy cream. (Be careful – it may splatter!) Divide filling equally among prepared tart pans.

Set tart pans on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, until apples are soft and cranberries have burst. Serve warm drizzled with caramel sauce (recipe below), or cool to room temperature, cover lightly with plastic wrap and store in fridge. (Reheat when ready to serve.)

Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes about 1 cup

Be sure you have all ingredients ready to go before you begin – making caramel happens very quickly! Also make sure you use a saucepan with deep sides (at least 2-3 quarts) and wear long sleeves in case of spattering. Whatever you do, resist tasting the caramel until it has cooled to room temperature. Boiling sugar is much, MUCH hotter than boiling water so be cautious.


1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)


In a 2 or 3- quart heavy bottomed saucepan, heat sugar over moderately high heat. Stir regularly with a whisk or wooden spoon as the sugar melts to promote even browning, but once the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring.

Once the sugar is boiling and has turned a rich amber color, remove from heat and add the butter. (Warning: the sugar will bubble up – be careful!) Stir until butter is melted. Add heavy cream and stir until smooth. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then pour into a glass jar (jar will be hot!) and cool to room temperature.

Once the caramel has cooled, if you find it has a burnt or bitter taste, the sugar was overcooked. Don’t worry – it can be salvaged! Rewarm caramel until it’s stir-able, then add vanilla extract and cocoa powder, stirring to incorporate.

Cover and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks. Warm before serving.

  1. November 10, 2010 8:35 pm

    Mmm, looks delicious!

  2. November 10, 2010 8:53 pm

    Oh dang, those tarts look good. And boy do I recognize that crust on sight! Glad you like it, and the change to pecans must be to die for. Thanks so much for the mention and I like that it led me to your site!

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      November 12, 2010 4:41 pm

      Thanks for sharing the recipe, Amy! It tasted even better than I though it would. I’m sure I’ll be using it again and again :)

  3. November 10, 2010 9:16 pm

    i’m not really a big pie crust fan either unless it’s graham cracker. Or oreo. Or sweet. The hard buttery almost savory stuff just doesn’t do it for me. These however? Totally doing it. I love cranberry and apple together and the caramel definitely seals the deal.

  4. Jennifer A (Bread and Putter) permalink
    November 11, 2010 9:19 am

    Oh, wow! These look fantastic, and even though I like regular pie crust, this looks way better.

  5. November 11, 2010 10:54 am

    They look beautiful and delicious!

  6. crustabakes permalink
    November 11, 2010 11:49 pm

    That’s a very good pie crust substitute. I love cranberry too. and that final drizzle of caramel just seals everything perfectly. YUM!

  7. November 11, 2010 11:53 pm

    I just flew on in from Tastespotting-these tarts look amazing!! And that crust needs to be tried asap!

  8. November 12, 2010 8:27 am

    These look incredible! I do like traditional pastry crust, but I also love nut crusts. I think the combo of flavours in this has to be a winner.

  9. November 12, 2010 4:13 pm

    my stomach is rumbling looking at this recipe. I’m probably not going to make it anytime soon, b/c I’m lazy like that. But then I also might stock up on all these recipes and wait for the first winter storm to make these. hmm. or you could just mail me some, with an extra jar of caramel. becaue I think caramel is awesome.

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      November 12, 2010 4:40 pm

      I wouldn’t mind mailing you some, except I already ate them all. Sorry ;)

  10. November 12, 2010 11:00 pm

    Theresa, These look fantastic! The recipe sounds wonderful; I really love the non-traditional pie crust recipe. I love cranberries as well. Your pictures, as always, are lovely! Thank you for sharing such a great recipe!

  11. November 13, 2010 9:08 pm

    These look delicious! I just made my Cranberry and Caramel Walnut Tart. Caramel, fruits, crust…yum!

  12. November 18, 2010 11:29 am

    These are so beautiful!! I love the caramel in there too.

  13. November 18, 2010 11:29 am

    How would this taste if one skipped the caramel sauce, for dietary reasons?

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      November 18, 2010 11:33 am

      They’re pretty good without the caramel too! I think you’d still like them :) These tarts would also be good topped with something like vanilla ice cream or whipped cream instead.

  14. November 18, 2010 11:33 am

    Great photos, and I love the idea of using oats in the crust. It must give it a good texture. I’m gonna have to try that!

  15. Vino Luci Style permalink
    November 18, 2010 11:57 am

    I’ve worked hard and practiced a lot to make a perfect homemade crust and I do believe the all butter crust is very good now that I get it done correctly. But no matter; I still prefer the crunch of nuts or cookies in my crust so this is right up my alley.

    Love cranberries too; for decoration, for cookies, for liqueur even…so again…hits the spot. And then you add caramel. Perfect.

  16. janemaynard permalink
    November 18, 2010 7:18 pm

    hi there! just wanted to let you know we featured one of your photos in this post as the “Favorite Food Photo” for today on – lovely photos and these little tarts look divine! thanks so much! jane

  17. November 18, 2010 7:50 pm

    Those tart are beautiful, pictures are perfect. It looks like it came from a cusine magazine.
    Your crust is unique as well, better try this lovely recipe.


  18. sandition permalink
    November 23, 2010 6:43 pm

    I have to admit the last photo makes me want to be there at the table!

  19. November 23, 2010 9:33 pm

    These tarts look fantastic, and there is nothing better than a kitchen filled with the delicious aromas of autumn baking. Mmmm.

  20. Laura permalink
    November 24, 2010 12:32 am

    will be making these for t-day! :)

  21. December 8, 2010 11:21 am

    Absolutely divine! I ♥ these!!

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