Category Archives: Tarte Tatin

Tomato (Mini) Tarte Tatin

It may not be traditional, but I can tell you how it tastes: phenomenal. The assembly goes like this: roll out your puff pastry to about 1/4″ thickness and cut out your crusts. You want the circles to be as big around as the outside lip of the ramekin molds. Once they’re cut, store them in the refrigerator until needed.

Now for the caramel. Pour 4 tablespoons of sugar into a small saucepan, add a tablespoon of water and place it over high heat.

Swirl the pan gently until the mixture melts, bubbles and finally turns a medium-to-dark amber (for more detailed instructions on making caramel, see the tutorial under the Pastry Components menu to the right). Remove the pan from the heat and add a 1/4 teaspoon of sherry or red wine vinegar. It will bubble a little. Swirl to combine.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the caramel into each ramekin.

Add three olives and a roasted garlic clove to each.

Then insert a roasted tomato half, cut side up.

Next go the caramelized onions, about one and a half tablespoons.

Salt and fresh ground pepper.

Top it all off with a puff pastry round. Don’t worry if it sags in the middle.

Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes until nicely browned.

Let the tarts rest for about a minute before turning them out. Careful now, they’re hot. Turn them out by placing a small plate on the top of the ramekin (don’t worry if that crushes the pastry a little…you need a flat bottom anyway).

Using a towel, grasp the hot ramekin with one hand and the plate with the other and flip the whole thing over. Jiggle the mold a little to loosen the tart. If it doesn’t come out, try running a sharp knife around the edge of the tart and repeating the process.

Some caramel will run down the sides and pool on the plate. You can either serve the tarts as-is for a more rustic presentation, or re-plate them as I’ve done above. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Filed under:  Pastry, Tarte Tatin, Tomato Tarte Tatin | 2 Comments

Tomato Tarte Tatin Recipe

Look around a little and you can find recipes for full-sized tomato tartes tatin, however I think the original mini-tarts still work the best. The New York Times’ large version from 2008 calls for a pound of cherry or grape tomatoes, but I think that’s still too watery, and I don’t much care for the presentation. If you’re hell bent on making a single large tart, dry the slow-roasted tomatoes until they’re nearly caramelized in the oven, then do your best to arrange the pieces in an attractive pattern. The Colicchio version goes like this:

4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon sherry (or red wine) vinegar
4 roasted garlic cloves (see slow-roasted tomato tutorial)
1 cup caramelized onions (see caramelized onion tutorial)
12 Niçoise olives, pitted
4 roasted tomato halves (see slow-roasted tomato tutorial)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
8 ounces puff pastry, homemade preferred, store-bought is fine

Preheat oven to 425 (puff pastry needs big heat). Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and swirl over high heat until the sugar dissolves, then turns a dark amber. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar, swirl to combine.

Pour equal amounts of caramel into four 4-ounce ramekins. Let the caramel cool for about a minute, then drop a roasted garlic clove, 3 olives and a tomato half into each ramekin. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, then add a generous spoonful of caramelized onions.

Roll out the puff pastry to about a 1/4″ thickness. Using a round cutter, punch out holes the size of the ramekins and place the rounds on top. Put the ramekins on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden. Let the tarts cool for one minute, then — carefully — turn them out onto plates.

At the Grammercy Tavern, these are served as an accompaniment to steak, and that’s a really, really good idea.

Filed under:  Pastry, Tarte Tatin, Tomato Tarte Tatin | 2 Comments

How to Make Tarte Tatin

There are a few variations on this very simple recipe, most of which have to do with how you prepare your caramel, and what size pieces of apple you employ. I’m a member of the make-your-caramel-first-and-don’t-use-gigantic-apple-pieces contingent. We have strong representation in Washington and a muscular lobbying effort.

I like to make the caramel before I bake because I like darker caramels. So, I begin by putting about two-thirds of a cup of sugar into a 9-inch cast iron skillet (you can use a ten, or an eight…Tartes Tatins are casual affairs, just adjust your sugar quantity a bit to compensate for the size difference). I then moisten it with a couple of tablespoons of water (the quantity isn’t important, you just want the sugar to have a “wet sand” look to it).

Turn the heat up to high and start swirling the pan as best you can (cast iron can be a bit heavy for “swirling”).

After three or four minutes the sugar will begin to brown…

…then turn light amber, and shortly dark amber. Notice how the foam on top of the caramel is deceiving. It gives the appearance of a light amber when in fact the caramel underneath (as you can see over on the left there) is really a dark amber.

When the caramel is the color you like, turn off the heat and add 3-4 tablespoons of butter to the pan. It’ll foam up some and maybe splatter, so, be careful.

When the splattering has died down, stir the caramel until all the butter has been incorporated. Be prompt with this step, otherwise the caramel will firm up in the pan to the point you won’t be able to work with it. Should that happen, just return the pan to the heat for 30 seconds or so to loosen the caramel up.

What’s the alternative to this? Simply, to spread your sugar out in the pan and scatter the butter pieces over the top — then add the apples and bake it all together in the oven until the sugar and butter turn bubbly. That works, but in my experience doesn’t make a very flavorful caramel. Some people use brown sugar to give the caramel a little more character…I still don’t care for the method, personally.

Let the caramel cool, then lay on your apple pieces on top of it. Some people use thin slices, others use anything up to half an entire apple. I like slices, but chunky ones, so I cut my apples into six pieces and use those. This is about four baseball-sized apples, roughly 2 1/2 pounds before slicing.

The advantage here is that you still get nice big pieces of apple in the finished tart, but the chunks aren’t so large that you have to pre-bake them before putting your pastry layer on (should you decide you want to use quarters or halves, you’ll need to pre-bake the apples in the pan with the caramel – or sugar and butter – for between 20 and 30 minutes).

While the pan cools, roll out your pastry. Here I have about a 14-ounce piece of homemade puff pastry. A single sheet of store bought works just fine too. Roll it out to about the size of your pan, then trim it roughly round with a pizza cutter (save the pieces for the puff pastry scrap ball you have going in the freezer…you’ve got one going, don’t you?).

Then simply lay the pastry on the pan like so:

And bake in a 400 oven for about thirty minutes, or until it looks like this:

When the tart is done, remove it to a rack and let it cool for at least fifteen minutes before turning it out. To do that, just place a plate or platter over the pan, then, holding the platter on with one hand, flip both the skillet and the platter over. The tart will flop right out.

Here’s it important to note that you can leave your tart fully baked and in the pan all day if you need to. Just keep about a 375 oven going around dessert time, and warm the tart back up for 15 minutes or so. Let rest, turn out, and presto — nice warm Tarte Tatin.

Traditionally this type of pastry is served with a dollop of crème fraîche — which is excellent. Ice cream is a great way to go too. Last night Mrs. Pastry served me a slice with a small scoop of her homemade pumpkin caramel ice cream (remember that batch of deep, dark caramel I made two weeks ago? There you go). I’ll be biking and extra lap around the park this evening to compensate.

Filed under:  Apple Tarte Tatin, Pastry, Tarte Tatin | 17 Comments