Your life, as you know it, is about to change. Mission Possible: your mission, should you choose to accept it is to a) read this post, b) make this caramel apple tart and c) eat it…then repeat — as often as possible! I recommend just keeping the ingredients on hand at all times.
It started when we attended our daughter’s wedding reception hosted by her husband’s family in Chicago, Illinois. The next day, we headed out on the open road for a side-trip to the historic town of Nauvoo, Illinois. After a busy morning of touring, we hit the main part of town to find lunch and happened upon a little eatery called “The Apron Bake Shoppe & Café,” known for their ‘delicious made from scratch breakfast items, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts’.
A quaint, down home restaurant it was decorated with old fashioned, you guessed it, aprons, lace curtains, vintage photos, bird houses and painted signs. But the best part of the décor was the display case of tempting desserts!
After eating some tasty sandwiches, we sauntered over to the counter to get a closer look at the treats. And there it was…rising up on a cake pedestal…freshly baked and still warm: THE Caramel Apple Tart! My husband’s eyes widened as he exclaimed ‘I have to have this, it’s calling to me’ (the original is pictured below and on the left in the photo above).
Little did I know, I was about to taste the best dessert I’ve ever had! Think – apple pie meets apple crumble and yet, more scrumptious than either! As if the warm delicious tart wasn’t enough, they doused it with caramel sauce as a finishing touch. The crust contains not one, but two unexpected ingredients: parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper! Yes, you read that right. The cheese pairs well with the apples and makes the crust crispy and rich while the cayenne adds a slight kick!
In addition to soups, salads, sandwiches, breakfast items and sweet treats, ‘The Apron’ sells house-made jams and jellies, unique aprons hand-made in Nauvoo and a new cookbook featuring many of their popular recipes. Naturally, I had to buy one in order to make this amazing Caramel Apple Tart and thankfully the owner and chef, Ellen Hundt, gave me permission to feature the recipe here on my blog!
The owner and chef, Ellen Hundt, believes “there is no love sincerer than the love of food,” and it shows! She bought this business back in 2017 and has added her own twists to the recipes she inherited from the previous owners. Her love of baking came from her mom and neighbors. As she started having children, she took a Wilton cake decorating class so that she could make awesome cakes for her kids. She just kept baking over the years and got better and better. She enjoys listening to music while she bakes, a tradition started by her mother when Ellen was growing up. They always sang when they baked and in fact, couldn’t make Christmas cookies without carols. She continues this tradition today by cranking up the tunes and singing along! Ellen is on the left with her friend Julia, who designed the Welcome sign and bought the first cookbook, hot off the press!
This dessert has been so popular that die hard customers come in to eat it over and over and tell their friends and family. The advent of ‘The Apron’ going international came when one customer ordered two and had Ellen ship them to his wife in Trinidad!
I hope you enjoy this Caramel Apple Tart from ‘The Apron Bake Shop and Café’ in Nauvoo, Illinois as much as we did! If you’re ever out that way, tell Ellen that Liz sent you and check out The Apron Facebook page too!
Now this is important: when you make the tart, be sure you have plenty of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream (or both) and milk on hand before you dive in!
Caramel Apple Tart
In a mixing bowl, combine:
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 ½ T sugar
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 1/2 T water
Mix well so the cayenne pepper is well distributed. Cut in the butter. Sprinkle in the water. Mix just until combined, still crumbly but will hold together. Press into a sprayed 9 ½” spring form pan. Sprinkle 1/3 cup fine, dry bread crumbs or crushed saltines on bottom (or said another way, on the top of the bottom crust).
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup flour
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
In a mixer bowl, combine sugar and flour. Cut in butter, then add vanilla. Should be crumbly. Set aside.
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 5-6 peeled, cored, sliced Granny Smith Apples
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Spread apples into crust. Sprinkle topping. Bake 40-45 minutes at 325° in a convection oven. Or bake at 350° in a regular oven for 55-60 minutes or until apples are tender. Drizzle caramel ice-cream topping over top. Remove from spring form ring. To make your own caramel topping, microwave 13oz caramel with ¼ cup evaporated milk.
Liz Notes: I sprinkled some pre-mixed cinnamon sugar on top of the tart before baking, which was a nice addition. I took the crust up the sides of the spring-form pan about 2/3. Ellen takes hers up higher giving it that extra rustic-looking crust above the apples.