Friday, January 4, 2013

The Saga of the Tarte Tatin

Santa brought Thomas 8 shiny new ramekins for Christmas which has led to much discussion of what we should bake in them. Our first project was pumpkin creme brulee. Our second, Deep Dish Apple Tarte Tatin. The recipe, which we had seen on Tyler's Ultimate, looked deceptively simple - make caramel, layer it with apples, then pastry; bake and enjoy.

The finished product!
Honestly, there must be a typo in the original recipe because a cup of water plus a cup of sugar will make simple syrup, not caramel! At least not within 10 minutes... but my first rule of any new recipe is to follow the directions. So we did. Once the sugar dissolved in the water in the saucepan on the stove, it became clear that caramel was a long way off so we dumped it out and started over, this time with sugar and just a couple tablespoons of water. The mixture completely crystallized. I read a couple other recipes for tarte tatin and saw that they started with butter and sugar, so we reduced the recipe a bit, maintaining the proportions, and this time made hard candy instead of soft caramel. We have made caramel before so I decided the way to success was to use that recipe. Fortunately this process worked (fourth time is the charm?). My hypothesis is that the key to perfect caramel is no stirring. Once the sugar dissolves, don't touch it until it's that dark amber color. Whew!

Our next problem was that I had bought fillo dough instead of puff pastry. They are right next to each other in the freezer case... but not interchangeable. I didn't realize until I had it out of the package that it was the wrong thing! Luckily a friend came to our rescue and made the trip to Publix that saved the day. In the end, the tartes were delicious and hopefully if we decide to make them again they won't be as much of a struggle!

1 1/2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved and cored
1 sheet puff pastry, store bought, thawed
sugar for sprinkling
vanilla ice cream to serve with tartes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 6 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Remove from heat and pour into the ramekins, dividing evenly among all 6.

Arrange 1 apple half, cut side down on top of the caramel in the bottom of each ramekin. Take the remaining halves and cut them into wedges so you can fill the gaps in the top of each ramekin to create a level surface on which the pastry will lie across. Sprinkle apples with some sugar. 

Roll the pastry out use a cookie-cutter to cut out circles the size of the ramekins and place over the apples folding it in at the edges. Make 3 or 4 holes with a knife to let steam out when baking. Bake for 20 minutes and then let it rest for 15 minutes.

It's important to let the tartes rest because if you turn them out too soon, they won't hold their shape.

Put a plate on top of the cooled ramekin and flip both over. Lift the ramekin up slowly. Add a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!

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