MAKE THE TARTE
• Preheat oven to 400°
• On a lightly floured table, roll the puff pastry out into a 10" round with a 10" thickness. Return the pastry to the refrigerator to rest.
• Slit and scrape the vanilla bean into the granulated sugar and whisk until incorporated. Remove the bean pod.
• Slice the quarter pound block of butter into 1/8" slabs and line them in the bottom of 9" cast iron skillet. Pour all 1 1/2 cups of sugar over the butter-lined skillet, allowing the sugar to fall in between crevasses.
• Place the apple halves in the skillet, with the flat side facing up. After you have
completed a single layer of apple halves, cut and quarter remaining apples to fit into crevasses and make a tight pack.
• Using high heat on the stove top burner, heat the skillet until the sugar begins to caramelize, continually moving the pan to achieve even caramelization. A very dark colored caramel will give the desired deep flavor.
• Do the following steps quickly to achieve a flaky crust. Once the sugar has fully caramelized, remove the skillet from the heat and quickly place the chilled puff pastry over the top of the caramelized apples. Very quickly, roll edges inward to create a finished crust. Brush the crust with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place in a pre-heated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is a deep, golden brown.
The puff pastry must be fully baked to avoid making a soggy crust.
• Remove the tarte from the oven and allow it to cool for at least a half hour before serving. When cool, invert the skillet onto a large plate or platter. Cut the tarte and serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche and a drizzle of warm Burnt Caramel Sauce.