Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tomato Tarte Tartin

As I say in my profile, I love to challenge myself with new recipes especially for guests or at some other inopportune time.  This week, with my parents visiting and the recent loss of my 9 1/2 year old Doberman (a very dear friend), I decided to take on a Tarte Tartin head on.  I've never made Tarte Tartin although I have had my eye on one recipe for a while.  This particular recipe, Tomato Tarte Tartin, is a twist and was found in the current issue of Bon Appetit.  Opposite of the saliva-inducing photo is an amazing description - "This dessert is a revelation.  As tomatoes cook in the caramel, they become sweet and tender but retain their clean, fresh flavor.  Prepare to be blown away."

Ok, could anyone actually resist that?  I definitely could not.  And there's something about cooking in stressful times that soothes me, even if said cooking causes stress.  It's kind of like the Gate Control Theory of Pain.  A very rough synopsis of this theory:  If you overload your pain receptors with different types of sensations, it reduces the perception of pain.  So if I overload myself with stress but cooking stress instead of whatever else is bothering me, my overall perception of stress decreases.

So back to the recipe - it required an ovenproof pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, which I didn't have.  We quickly remedied that and I have my sights on many other interesting dishes for this skillet.
Actually this is a relatively easy recipe, although it looks intimidating at first.  I forgot, of course, to defrost the puff pastry ahead of time, so I ended up starting to make dessert after we were all done with dinner.  There is some great detail at the beginning of the recipe on peeling the tomatoes.  Being the recipe rebel that I am(read: lazy), I decided to skip this part.  Don't.  While it doesn't completely ruin the recipe, the tomato peels kind of get in the way with the rest of the dessert and remind you that you are eating tomatoes.  In a way it's better if you don't remember, because then you can just slip into the taste of the dessert rather than analyzing it.

Caramelizing the tomatoes went smoothly and then I added the puff pastry.  I would suggest cutting the round larger than you need it, so you will truly have enough pastry to tuck around the edges.  This will create a nice crust.  After the tart bakes and cools, comes the final challenge, flipping it.  In my experience, this is where things go wrong.  And I think everyone, including me but especially my dad, thought it would.  Happily, we were wrong.  It flipped out of the pan easily and no tomatoes were injured in the making of this story.

Until we ate them...

Tomato Tarte Tartin is a very different dessert - rich and impressive.  The caramelized tomato comes out with a smooth consistency that is pleasant.  I think I'd like to try this recipe with apricots or maybe pears. I preferred the tart at room temperature and will have to get some whipped cream to try with it.

I was very happy with how mine looked.
Find the recipe here at Bon Appetit.  And remember, don't be a rebel, peel the damn tomatoes.


  1. Sounds great! I love experimenting making things that should be savory sweet and vice versa. The Thais are old hats at and use things like corn and black beans in desserts. You can even get dried tomatoes that are sweet, like other dried fruits. Good for you for giving tomatoes the opportunity to be the fruits that they are!

  2. That looks really interesting! I would have never thought to use tomatoes in a tarte tatin, but I LOVE a traditional one with apples. I'll have to add this to my recipe files.

  3. I don't know that I was so much blown away, but very pleasantly surprised with this recipe.
    Manow - I can't wait to try some of those desserts while I'm there this fall, I don't think I had any last time!
    belalumo - I remember you telling me that you loved Tarte Tartin, do you use Orangette's recipe?

  4. Hmm, I think I usually just wing it. I've been inspired by several recipes over the past couple years though, Orangette's being one of them. Smitten Kitchen uses Orangette's recipe and there are great photos as well. Here's some more inspiration:
    On another subject, Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio is supposed to be a great book for learning to cook without recipes. I haven't read it yet, but I'd like to. All the food bloggers gave it a good review.

  5. I did see Ratio when I was looking for just that type of book. I was also thinking about Cooking and Baking (two separate books) by James Peterson. I'll definitely add Ratio to my wish list.
    Making the Tarte Tartin with the puff pastry made it super easy, but I will definitely make the dough myself next time, when I try it with apricots.