There’s good reason that the classic Tarte Tatin is one of the most popular desserts in France, a country that is known for its great desserts: it’s really, really good. And it also happens to be pretty
easy to prepare, as long as you’re not queasy about intimate action with a little hot caramel. Created by Stephanie Tatin, one of the sisters who operated the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France,
in the 1880s, Tarte Tatin is an upside down tart that is made by cooking apples in a buttery caramel, topping it with a round of puff pastry and baking until it’s golden-brown, sweet and juicy. Then
the whole deal is flipped over onto a plate and served warm, au natural, or with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My preference is for a quenelle of rum raisin ice cream, which has a
sweet, musky flavor that works so well apples and caramel. I like to use slightly tart Granny Smiths in my Tatin, but feel free to use any firm apple, such as Gala, Fuji or Honey Crisp.
Classic Tarte Tatin
Makes 8 servings
1 lb/454 g puff pastry (homemade or store bought)
½ cup (113 g/1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
3 1/2 large apples (about 1 ¾ lbs), peeled, cored and quartered lengthwise*
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
Rum Raisin ice cream, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/16 inch. Using a plate as a guide, cut a 10-inch circle out from the dough with a wheel cutter. Transfer the round to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. In a 9 1/2-inch Tarte Tatin pan or ovenproof skillet (I used a Le Creuset Tarte Tatin Pan, which I love), melt the butter with the sugar over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to boil, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar caramelizes and turn amber, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the apple quarters, arranging them in concentric circles in the pan, cut side up. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, spooning the caramel mixture over the apples frequently so that they turn a nice golden-brown color and slightly tender. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the apples and place the dough circle on top, tucking the edges down onto the sides of the fruit, so that it is encased. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the dough has risen and is golden brown. Let the tart cool for 5 minutes.
4. Put on potholders and place a large cake plate (or any plate this is larger than the Tatin pan) upside-down on top of the pan. Holding the pan and plate tightly together, quickly invert both, so that the plate is now on the bottom. Carefully remove the pan. Serve slices of the tart warm, topped with Rum Raisin ice cream.