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.
here at Bon Appetit. And remember, don't be a rebel, peel the damn tomatoes.