Dominique Ansel Bakery
For a quintessential textbook Apple Tarte Tatin, look no further than Soho's new Dominique Ansel Bakery. Classic and proper, each individual tarte tatin ($5) features one entire Gala apple atop a buttery, almost cookielike crust. Use a fork and knife if you desire, but if no one's looking, I pick it up with both hands and devour.
At O Cafe in the West Village, look out for Apple Tarts, each one just four or five bites, a buttery thin shell with a flaky crunch. With edges dusted in sugar, and slices of tender, skin-on apples tucked in with no particular order, it's more homey than professional; but there's nothing wrong with that.
Tate's Bake Shop
Tate's Bake Shop is best known for thin chocolate chip cookies, but their Apple Crumb deserves some credit. Offered at Butterfield Market on the Upper East Side, they're sold by the whole pie ($18) and best served warm from the oven. A crisp crust meets a layer of golden crumble, and underneath, apple is packed tight and thankfully not very sweet at all.
Big Gay Ice Cream
I've given up on trying to pick just one favorite sundae at the Big Gay Ice Cream, but the Gobbler ($6) remains forever high on my list. Vanilla ice cream with crushed graham crackers and whipped cream. A handful of Craisins and your pick of apple or pumpkin butter. It's best with apples, and never hurts to ask for a little extra of it, mix in with a spoon and get a bit of everything in that first bite.
At Murray's Cheese they offer pre-packed boxes of Apple Crisp ($4.99) for you to serve at home. Warm up in the oven till the tops get all golden and top off with a spoonful or two of crème fraîche. The "crisp" element is composted of brown sugar and plenty of oatmeal and butter. The textural contrast of the crisp and then meltingly tender apples makes for easy satisfaction.
Union Square Cafe
Union Square Cafe also does an excellent Apple Tarte Tatin ($9.50); the caramelized apples come to the table hot on a flaky puff pastry disk. Buttery and intense, the flavor is purely apple through and through. There's candied walnuts on the side (also warm!) and a silky scoop of crème fraîche ice cream. A luxury tarte tatin if there ever was one.
Wolfgang's Apple Strudel ($8) is served piping hot, with shakes of powdered sugar. Apples are in large chunks, soft and saucy with hints of cinnamon, plus a handful of plump golden raisins. Tucked between the layers of phyllo dough are nutty crumbs of graham crackers tossed with sugar. A little crunch, for textural contrast. The final finish of schlag is not just whipped cream, but cream, sweetened a tad, and whipped until it's about one more whisk away from butter.
You won't find apple chunks inside these cinnamon-sugar dusted cake doughnuts ($2.75) from Flex Donuts, but you will find a puree of apples rolled into the dough. Most of it seamlessly melds into the dough but the occasional swirl stands out, a sweet and faintly spiced puree. Not too greasy and always with that slight crunch at the surface.