Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not the prettiest girl on the block, but she puts out: Tarte Tatin Part II

Tarte Tatin is what dessert should be: carefree, without pretension, and shockingly more than the sum of its parts.

Carefree because the crust is on top and then the bottom so the pastry never needs to look good, never gets soggy, and doesn't have any structural obligations. Without Pretension because the tarte is nothing more than a pan full of butter, sugar, and apples with a crust (an obscenely easy crust if you own a food processor and know how to turn it on). More than the Sum of its Parts because the time the apples spend on the the range, browning in butter and sugar and their own juices, coaxes the fruit into a complex jam bliss.

The tarte popped out of the cast iron pan beautifully. I used JP's technique of heating it up on a hot burner for a little less than a minute, palming the crust, and rotating the tarte so all the pieces were ready and in agreement to come out of the skillet together. The apples browned and held their shape. The crust was texturally Utopian.

Thank you James Peterson.

But the tarte wasn't without drama: Mark and I are in domestic discord over tarte tatin.

Mark would prefer the tarte scented with apple pie spices. (Expected. Pedestrian.) He would prefer a bruléed top. (Hmmm.)

I'm game to try a sugary crispy crust next time around because it might be a thing. But apple pie spices? Can he not taste the complexity of the carmelized apples? The brown butter caramel? And if he can, why is it not enough?

I was incredulous and he wanted to drive his point home. He announced—some might say proclaimed—that the tarte was so lacking it tasted ... English.

To hell with him; I'm in love.

It's true the tarte is a little homely. Her looks aren't what I fantasized about when I was rolling the dough. But she smells like heaven and  feels sensual in my mouth—and if that's not enough to earn a repeat performance, I don't know what is.

The recipe was fantastic and I'll make it again (always in the cast iron skillet).

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