Tarte Tatin was first served in the early part of the 19th century at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France. Owned by the Tatin sisters, Stéphane and Caroline, the Hotel was a favorite stop for sportsmen in the area during the busy hunting season. Legend has it that the upside down tarte came to be one day when the flirtatious Stéphane became distracted and waylaid by a handsome hunter in the restaurant. Rushing back to her work in the kitchen, she tossed some apples, butter and sugar in a pan. She then hurried back out to help her sister in the dining room, forgetting the pan atop the hot stove. After a while, the aroma of caramel drifted from the kitchen and Stéphane ran to find her mistake bubbling on the stove. In an attempt to salvage dessert, she placed a layer of pàte brisée (today, we use puff pastry) over the caramelized apples, browned the crust in the oven and then turned it upside down to serve. The Hotel patrons loved it. The recipe eventually made it’s way to Paris, and in honor of Michael and Jacky’s recent trip to the City of Lights, we offer you Michael’s version of Tarte Tatin. We suggest you serve it with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of our warm Burnt Caramel Sauce. Bon Appétit!
Yields: 8-10 Servings Time: About 1 Hour
8 Granny Smith Apples (peeled, cored, and halved)
1/4 lb Unsalted Butter, cold & quartered (taken from a 1lb block)
1-1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1 whole Vanilla Bean
1/4 lb Frozen Puff Pastry (store-bought Dufour is preferred, but Pepperidge Farms will work). Thaw in the refrigerator and keep until needed.
2 T Unsalted Butter, melted
3 T Granulated Sugar
On a lightly floured table, roll the puff pastry out into a 10” round with a 1/8” thickness. Return the pastry to the refrigerator to rest.
Slice the quarter pound block of butter into 1/8” slabs and line them in the bottom of cast iron skillet. Slit and scrape the vanilla bean into the granulated sugar and whisk until incorporated. Remove the bean pod and pour all 1-1/2 cups of sugar over the butter-lined skillet, allowing the sugar to fall in between crevasses.
Place the apples halves in the skillet, with the flat side facing up. After you have completed a single layer of apples halves, cut and quarter remaining apples to fit into crevasses and make a tight pack.
Using high heat on the stove top burner, heat the skillet until the sugar begins to caramelize, continually moving the pan to achieve even caramelization. A very dark colored caramel will give the desired deep flavor.
Do the following steps quickly to achieve a flaky crust. Once the sugar has fully caramelized, remove the skillet from the heat and quickly place the chilled puff pastry over the top of the caramelized apples. Very quickly, roll edges inward to create a finished crust. Brush the crust with the melted butter and sprinkle 3T sugar. Place in a pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the crust is a deep, golden brown. The puff pastry must be fully baked to avoid making a soggy crust.
Remove the tarte from the oven and allow it to cool for at least a half hour before serving.
When cool, invert the skillet onto a large plate or platter. Cut the tarte and serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm Burnt Caramel Sauce.