Tarte tartin (as far as I am able to discern, its pronounced ‘tartan’ like in scottish kilts ) is a perrenial favourite for home dining parties. This is a way of making an open fruit tart where miraculously the fruit doesn’t get dried out in the baking process. It stays moist and juicy from the market, to the kitchen, to the dining table.
- Pears (3)
- Puff Pastry Sheet (1)
- Sugar (3/4 cup)
You can make your tarts in individual portions or in one large pyrex but the first step is always to assemble ovenware of the right surface area to match the puff pastry sheet.
- Put 3/4 cup of plain sugar in a pan and under slow heat, stir until the sugar caramelizes. At first, the sugar will yellow a bit and start clumping together, and after about fifteen minutes, you’ll get a deep golden brown molasses. I wouldn’t use a non-stick pan as the sugar gets really hot.
- At the point where most of the sugar has turned into molasses (the remainder will caramelize by itself), drizzle it with a large spoon to layer the bottom of your baking container(s). You have to work fast as a bitter taste will set in if you continue to heat the molasses too long but if you turn off the fire, the molasses will quickly thicken to the point where you won’t be able to work it. The molasses will harden immediately as it touches your cold bakeware so don’t harbour any thoughts about adjusting it later. Control the distribution as the caramel leaves the spoon.
- Allow the caramel to cool. Take out the puff pastry pack for defrosting and preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF).
- Peel your pears and cut each into symmerical halves. Decore and then proceed to cut the pear into 1/5 inch slices. The slices will seem thick, but they will flatten out when the fruit is cooked. Arrange these over the caramel with about 50% ovelap, like fallen dominoes. Dust with cinamon powder.
- Cut your puff pastry such that it is slightly oversized compared to your baking container(s) as there is a bit of shrinkage after baking. Position the puff pastry over the pear and poke a hole in the pastry with a toothpick every 3 square inches so steam can escape.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry has risen and begins to brown. The caramel will also be bubbling at this time, this is normal. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Next you need to flip your tartes onto the serving dish(es). First, using a butter knife, make sure the edges are not sticking to the container. Then cover the container(s) with a plate(s) and flip both together.
- If you wish, you can serve you tarte flambe style. Place the finished tarte on the dinning table first. Then heat 1/4 cup of rum in a metal ladel and when the rum is hot tilt the ladle such that a drop spills over the open flame (use a lighter for electric stoves). The entire ladle of rum should come alight. Quickly pour the flaming mixture over the tarte where it will continue to burn for a bit. Voila, you got flambe.
- The TT was invented by the Tartin sisters of France when one of them dropped an unbaked pie. They decided to bake the broken pie anyway. It had no crust left so it had to be baked upside down but it turned out better than the other whole pies. And the TT was born…
- The puff pastry sheet in this recipe is square with each side measuring 9.5 inch (24cm). Remember to adjust accordingly if the sheets you buy are of a different size.
- You can use apples or bananas instead of pears without any change to the recipe. For bananas, if you want you can cut them a bit thicker and skip the overlap since banana pieces are smaller.
- There will be some caramel left in the pan at the end and you might wonder how you are going to clean it. Don’t worry, its basically still sugar and melts in plain water after cooling.