The secret to making this tart is to cook the apples patiently over low heat, letting them caramelize slowly; if you try to speed up the process you'll run the risk of burning them.
- 12 Tbsp. butter
- 1⁄2 cup dried, edible lavender buds, plus sprigs for garnish
- 8 firm apples such as golden delicious or northern spy, peeled, halved, and cored
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1 (10") circle frozen puff pastry, thawed and chilled
Melt butter in a small pot over medium-high heat. Remove pot from heat, add lavender, cover, and set aside to let infuse for 30 minutes. Warm butter again and strain through a fine sieve, pressing lavender with the back of a spoon to extract as much as possible; discard solids. Set lavender butter aside.
Arrange 14 of the apple halves vertically around the sides of a 9" cast-iron skillet, all facing in the same direction, nesting them as tightly as possible. Arrange remaining apples halves in center of skillet, rounded side down. Brush apples evenly with reserved lavender butter; sprinkle all over with sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, without stirring, until apples are deep brown on the bottom and softened about halfway up, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 425°. Prick puff pastry all over with a fork and arrange on top of apples, punctured side down; tuck edges in around apples. Bake until golden brown all over, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge. Place a large plate over the skillet; invert tart onto the plate. Garnish with lavender sprigs and serve with vanilla ice cream, if you like.