Sweet cheats: Faux tarte tatin

Mar 7, 2014 at 7:47 p.m. ET

Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a sweet shortcut when you’re pressed for time.

faux tarte tatin

I’m all for authenticity, but sometimes there’s nothing quite like a shortcut when you’re pressed for time. One of my culinary heroes, Britain’s beloved Delia Smith, wrote a book called How To Cheat At Cooking which caused quite a stir, with half of England’s home cooks up in arms. I’m a firm believer in cheating, especially if it keeps you cooking rather than heating up microwave dinners.

My favorite cheats are sweet cheats. We all lead busy lives and the idea of baking a pie after a long day’s work can seem like a step too far. Years ago, one of my best friends whipped up this “faux” tarte tatin in minutes, and had I not seen her do it I would never have believed it was so easy. It’s now my go-to recipe for a dinner party dessert, and one that I rarely have to leave the house to make; it has just four ingredients, all of which I usually have on hand. So when you find yourself stuck with a last-minute guest coming to dinner, or you have been asked to bring a dessert to a potluck dinner, I’d highly recommend giving this a try.

The “faux” creme anglaise sauce that I serve alongside is the best cheat of all. It is melted vanilla ice cream! Could anything be simpler than that? I pour it over everything from brownies to mixed berries but it’s absolutely perfect with apple pie.

Faux tarte tatin


  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (thawed)


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar until you have a smooth liquid.
  3. Peel and slice the apples (I cheated and used an apple corer and divider!)
  4. Pour half the melted butter into a round cake pan (I used a 9-inch) and arrange the apple slices in a fan. Scatter what’s left over on top.
  5. Place the sheet of pastry over the apples; you may need to roll it a little to get it to be big enough.
  6. Trim the pastry to the edges of the tin.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pastry looks perfectly browned.
  8. Invert onto a plate and serve with melted vanilla ice cream or, as I like to call it, creme anglaise!

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