It started with Shepherd’s Pie. It continued with Avgolemono Soup and Moqueca. Clearly, I’ve been taking liberties with classics and not acting ashamed. Tighten your seatbelt and be prepared for another wild ride. I share with you a modernized version of Tarte Tatin. It has no flaky crust. It is not cooked on the stove top. It does not have a thick, gooey layer of caramelized apples on top. But the overall concept is similar enough. Or so I say. A cookie base replaces the flaky crust, and a layer of apples slowly cooked in caramel sits proudly on top of it. Don’t skimp on the whipped cream. It adds a creamy and refreshing counterpoint that goes perfectly with the other components.
A MODERN TARTE TATIN
(slightly modified from J’en reste Baba)
mold used: Silikomart Vague, but you can also use a 20cm ring or cake pan
for the caramel-apple:
5 Golden Delicious apples
65g of honey
40g of sweet butter
125g granulated sugar
60g of whipping cream
5g of gelatin in sheets (I used Platinum strength)
for the cookie base:
220g all-purpose flour
1 pinch of salt
40g ground hazelnuts (or hazelnut flour)
90g powdered sugar
130g softened butter
for the stabilized whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream (232 g)
14 g powdered sugar
1 tsp gelatin (powder)
1/2 tsp vanilla (I used clear extract)
golden sprinkles to decorate (optional)
Prepare the apple topping: Peel the apples, core them, and cut them in small pieces (as shown in the composite photo below).
Put the butter and honey in a pan and melt them together. Add the apple pieces to the pan and coat with honey and butter mixture. Cook the apple slices over low heat until soft and slightly translucent, then set aside. If they released any juices, drain the liquid.
Soften the gelatin sheets in cold water while you make the caramel. Heat the cream gently in a saucepan or in a Pyrex container using the microwave. Heat another small saucepan and pour the powdered sugar into it, one-third at a time, turning the pan after each addition so that the sugar mixes well and turns into caramel, slowly. Watch the sugar like a hawk, do not allow it to burn, keep moving the pan off the heat if necessary. Do not use a spoon, or you might set up a catastrophic crystallization reaction and will have to start all over.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the hot cream (beware of splashing), stirring with a spatula as you gently pour it on the caramel. Mix everything well, allow it to cool to about 80C and add the drained gelatin. Once the gelatin is well dissolved, pour the whole thing on the apples reserved. Gently combine caramel and apples, and add to your silicone mold, or to a ring (make sure you use some type of acetate or plastic wrap to facilitate un-molding later.
Pack the layer of apples well, because you want that component to lay fully flat on the cookie base. Freeze the apple-caramel overnight.
Make the cookie base: Sift together the flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and salt into the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer with the flat beater. Add the hazelnut powder, turn the mixer on and combine all ingredients lightly. Mix the egg gently with a fork inside a cup and add to the bowl. Give it a few turns in low-speed. Add the softened butter in pieces and mix gently until the dough starts to form a ball. At this point stop the mixer and turn the dough into a countertop, finish mixing by hand. You do not want to develop gluten.
You should refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out 4 or 5mm thick. Cut a circle 3 cm bigger than the diameter of your mold. Silikomart Vague is exactly 20cm in diameter, I cut my dough a bit larger than 23cm. Refrigerate the disc for 30 minutes or place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.
As the dough cools, turn the oven at 370 F. Once the pastry is cool, bake it for about 20 minutes, until the edges start to get golden, and the center is fully set. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool completely. Cookie base can be made a few days ahead.
Make the whipped cream. In a small saucepan, combine the powdered sugar and gelatin. Gradually stir in ¼ cup of the cream. Bring the mixture just to a boil, stirring constantly. It will thicken slightly. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and allow it to cool just to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla. In a chilled mixing bowl, whip the remaining cream just until traces of the beater marks begin to show. Add the cooled gelatin mixture in a steady stream, beating constantly. Whip just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.
Assembly: remove the frozen topping from the freezer and carefully un-mold it. Place the cookie base on the serving platter, set the frozen apple insert centered on top. Spoon the whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip or any other star tip of your choice. Decorate the sides and the center of the tart with the cream. You will have whipped cream leftover. If you like, decorate with golden sprinkles.
Keep 1 to 2 hours in the fridge to defrost before serving.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: I wish I could take credit for this interpretation of The Tatin, but all credit must to go to the food blog that originally featured it over a year ago: J’en reste Baba. I followed her recipe to a T, except for the whipped cream, which I opted to stabilize with gelatin. As I’ve mentioned before, my desserts are all made the day before they are enjoyed, as I take them to the department on Mondays. That “Mondays with Sweetness” thing. I am normally out of the house by 7:15am, so the idea of fiddling with whipping cream and piping bags earlier than that would be a bit too crazy. Stabilizing the whipped cream works well, and this method my favorite by far. The taste is unchanged and the texture perfect.
The tart can be served straight from the fridge once it de-frosts, but keeping it at room temperature for a while makes the texture of the topping even better, so consider that option if you make it.
This preparation could be used in different types of presentation, don’t let the lack of a Silikomart mold stop you. You can do a simple round insert, or even make individual portions, cutting circles of cookies and using a dome or flat circle for the apple. Just make sure to cut the cookie base with enough space around to allow for the whipped cream piping.
I had a bit of trouble using the 5 apples. At first it seemed to me there was too much fruit for not enough caramel. I might have left 3/4 of the last apple out of the mixture. After having made it, I’d say it would probably have been ok to add them all, but I was afraid that too much fruit would interfere with un-molding the topping. Kind of a tough call. Weighing the fruit could be a better way to go. But if you start with 5 medium apples and use your best judgment, I anticipate no problems.
The dry caramel is the trickiest component. I had never made dry caramel before and things can degenerate quite quickly once it gets going. It does give it a stronger taste and if you go overboard, it could end up bitter. If I make this dessert again (so hard to repeat things when I have that mile long list of things to try), I might try a “regular” caramel made from sugar-water as a starting point.
I really loved the combination of the cookie, the apples and the whipped cream, and the tart was gone by 10am, which I suppose is a good endorsement of this modernized Tatin…
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