First things first ... tarte tatin! Have you ever had a slice of this delicious, upside down, caramel and apple tart? If not, I suggest you run through this post and give it a try as soon as you have a moment in the kitchen! This dessert is a real staple of my Parisian upbringing. Growing up, we had this tart for many different occasions, usually enjoying it warm with a melting scoop (or two!) of vanilla ice cream. This is really one of the staples of French cuisine and one of my favourites. It's a simple concept (apples, flaky dough, caramel) and the end result is not only gorgeous but incredibly delicious as well.
Invented by the Tatin sisters in France, this tart came about when the sisters were flooded with clients at their restaurant and came up with a clever way to recover their damaged traditional 'tarte aux pommes' (apple tart). The solution was to bake the tart up-side down, with the crust on top of the filling, and to flip the tart over once it was nicely caramelized by the butter and caramel used in the filling. This photograph doesn't really do the tart justice - but to tell you the truth, I made the tart in the evening and by the time it was out of the oven it was begging to be sliced... right then and there. An instagramed picture will have to do the trick for this post then!
There are a few special dishes that really taste like home for me and this is definitely one of them. So if you're in the mood for a quintessentially French meal, I would suggest starting with a frisee salad with lardons and melted goat cheese on toast, followed by a sole meuniere (delicious, velvety fish fillets made with a brown butter sauce, herbs and lemon), a side of haricots verts and a slice of warm tarte tatin, with some ice cream or a generous dollop of creme fraiche to finish off.
Before, I share with you my personal recipe to make this tart, let me introduce this week's giveaway! I will be giving a copy of Jodi Rhoden's Cake Ladies to one lucky reader. This book is filled with southern cake recipes, from Fresh Coconut Cake, to Mississippi Mud Cake and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. If you've always wanted to learn more about Southern desserts, this is the cookbook for you! To win your very own copy of this cookbook, simply comment on this post and let me know what cake you enjoy making the most (or what cake you enjoy eating the most!). Leave a comment on this post or write a comment on Chocolate Shaving's Facebook page with your answer. You can write a comment on both sites and your name will be entered in the contest twice. The contest ends on November 18th, at midnight. The winner will be drawn at random and you must be a Canadian or American resident to enter. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you!
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
A few squirts of lemon juice
1 pinch of salt
4 small knobs of butter
4-5 small tart apples
1 sheet of thawed puff pastry
Peal and core the apples. Cut in quarters and leave to set in a bowl with a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
Preheat your oven to 400F. In a small pot on medium heat, add the sugar and water. Using a small pastry brush, carefully dab the sides of the pot with water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the sides of the pan. Let the sugar and water form a homogenous mixture and add a few squirts of lemon. You can gently swirl the pot, but dab the side of the pan to remove any sugar crystals after doing so. Wait until the sugar starts to caramelize and turns an amber colour. This takes a little time, but once it does, the caramel can quickly burn and become bitter so be vigilant!
Once the caramel has a nice, rich amber colour, add the pinch of salt, remove from the heat and pour into your pie plate. Add the knobs of butter, evenly distributing them. Add the prepared apples, core side up, carefully pressing them down against the caramel. Be extremely careful at this stage as the caramel is still very hot (this is not a step to have your children help with!). Arrange the apples snugly to form a circle inside the pie plate. The least space between the apples is best as it will make the tart look prettier as well as ensure that it holds together, so try to fit as many apples as you can in one, neat, even layer.
Roll out the puff pastry to form a disc just a little larger than your pie plate and about 1/8 inch thick. Carefully place the disc on top of the apples, and fold in the pastry into the pie plate to form the crust, making sure the pastry has contact with all of the apples. The key is to tuck in the pastry on following the inside rim of the pie plate. Gently press down on the pastry to make sure the caramel, apples and pastry are in contact. Gently prick the top of the pastry with a fork and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden brown. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Using your serving plate, carefully invert the tart onto the plate. Serve with immediately with some ice cream or creme fraiche. Enjoy!
Update: The lucky winner of this giveaway is Julie from Willow Bird Baking.