Monday, September 28, 2015

Apple Tart Tatin

To be quite honest, I never really learned very much about French cooking. Yes, there are TONS of French techniques and recipes into which I'm sure I could absolutely IMMERSE myself, but I guess I was always a little intimidated by it. But after I watched the film Julie and Julia, I thought, "wait, how hard could it be?", and that's when I decided that someday I would have a dinner with a French menu. So when my friend Dennis asked for a French dinner, I was all in. And do you wanna know something? It wasn't as difficult as one would think! I googled classic French recipes for appetizers, entrees, and desserts. I came up with a menu of classic French fare. I was pretty thrilled with how everything turned out, but the one thing that excited me the most was this fabulous apple tart. It looks SO impressive, but it's actually not very difficult to make. Actually, some say that this recipe was a a happy accident that was originally intended to be an apple pie. I figured if it happened by accident, then it's probably not very difficult to do! So I was pretty pleased when it came out exactly as it was supposed to on my very first try. And OMG it's SO delicious! I mean, seriously, how can you go wrong with apples and caramel?!
 So, if you're feeling a little adventurous and would like to give this a try, I say go for it! I think you just may surprise yourself! This is Martha Stewart's version, and from what I can tell, it's pretty true to the classic. Of course, you don't have to tell your friends and family how easy it was to make. It'll be our little secret!

6 to 8 large firm sweet apples, such as Northern Spy, Winesap, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or Mutsu, peeled and halved
1 to 2 lemons, halved
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a standard 17 1/4-ounce package), thawed
All-purpose flour, for dusting 
  Heat oven to 400 degrees. 
Core apples using a melon baller to retain the rounded shape of the apples. Rub apples with sliced lemons to prevent browning. Set aside.
 Over medium heat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, heat sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook until it turns a rich golden color; swirling occasionally, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, roll puff pastry in one direction out into a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8 inch thick. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush.
 Add butter to skillet. Once melted, add apples, rounded sides down, fitting as many into the skillet as possible. Remove from heat, and top apples with puff pastry. Fold edges under, and crimp slightly. Make two to three small cuts in puff pastry to allow the steam to escape. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. and bake until pastry is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
 Remove from oven, and let cool about 2 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife. Carefully place a plate over the skillet and flip, inverting the tarte tatin. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I quartered my apples instead of just leaving them in halves as the recipe directs, just because I think it looks nicer in the pan, and I used a regular apple corer instead of a melon baller. Just sayin!
I used a cast iron skillet, but any heavy nonstick pan will work. Just be sure it has an ovenproof handle. 
The key to this dish is not burning the sugar. You want it to caramelize, but things can go south very quickly. Whenever I have a recipe involving caramelized sugar, I like to have the rest of my ingredients already ready already so I'll be good to go when it's time to add them.

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