For some reason, I didn’t like cooked fruit when I was little. I liked it fine raw, just not cooked. I especially hated cooked apples. Not a single bite of cooked apple would pass these lips. I thought apple pie wasn’t worth eating, baked apples were yucky, apple sauce was gross, and stewed apples would just about make me cry. But my first bite of tarte tatin changed all of that.
8 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, and cored
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup water
1 8 to 9-ounce sheet puff pastry dough
Toss together the apples and lemon juice in a large bowl. Combine the sugar, butter, and water in a tarte tatin pan or a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 10 to 12 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Immediately add the apples cut side up, arranging them in neat overlapping circles.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the apples are tender.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to an 11-inch square and cut out an 11-inch circle. Transfer the circle to a plate, reserving the scraps for another use, and refrigerate.
Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Top the apples with the pastry circle, tucking it in around the edges, and cut a 1-inch X in the center. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes and, using pot holders, carefully invert onto a serving platter. Let cool slightly, cut into portions, and serve.
Makes 1 10-inch tart, serving 8. Spectacular in the fall, when apples are at their best. And, of course, caramel is good in any season. Frozen puff pastry works perfectly, just thaw it in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Golden Delicious apples are my favorite for this recipe, they keep their shape once cooked, and they taste silky and buttery. Be very careful when adding the apples to the caramel in the pan—caramel is extremely hot, and it will bubble up on contact with the apples. I like to cook the apples on the stovetop for quite a bit longer than usual, so that the all of the juices the apples exude have enough time to cook down. This method ensures that the crust does not become soggy once the tart is inverted.