Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin
There’s something so deliciously festive about a tarte tatin with its caramelly goodness oozing out from between slices of apples and then a crunchy puff pastry base sopping up all of the piping hot juices. It’s also a bit of a challenging dessert as getting the apples soft, the caramel just dark enough, all the while not burning the puff pastry to a crisp, takes skills, patience, and also, I’m convinced, the cooking gods looking down on you kindly as you undertake the recipe.
For some reason, I was able to nail Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s beetroot tarte tatin recipe on the first try and have had success ever since. His savory version has all of the same elements as the traditional, but he just swaps in wedges of raw beetroot for the apples and once cooked tops it all with a herby, tart vinaigrette. And if you think of it, playing into the beetroots natural sweetness makes this upending of the apple recipe a complete no-brainer.
So along those same lines, what else is sweet but usually given a savory treatment? Tomatoes. With tomato season in full swing it’s time to resurrect my very popular cherry tomato and leek tart tatin that I decorate with some black olives and basil leaves. You can make it in the more traditional larger size according to Whittingstall’s recipe, or try my individual versions that I make using a muffin tin. Either way, it’s a delicious, summery recipe that’s sure to impress whoever is lucky enough to be served it. Note that I happily and only use store-bought puff pastry (the best quality I can find). While I did spend seemingly endless hours learning how to make puff and quick puff at culinary school, it’s one of those things that I think is better done by professionals and not necessary for this recipe at all.
Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin
inspired by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, finely chopped, mostly light green part
2 cups cherry tomatoes (assorted colors would be nice)
salt and pepper
frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
basil to garnish
chopped black olives to garnish (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and pull out you muffin tin. In a sauce pan place the sugar and water, don’t stir, instead swirl and let it melt together over medium high heat. Allow it to get darker than you feel comfortable with, a dark amber with a slightly burnt odor is what you want….trust me! Now remove it from the heat and swirl in the butter. Divide the caramel between 6 cups in the muffin tin and then nestle the cherry tomatoes in so they fit snugly in each hole. Sprinkle over the chopped leeks and season with salt and pepper. Now unroll your sheet of thawed puff pastry and using a round cutter cut out six circles that are just the slightest bit bigger than the holes in your muffin tin. Tuck the pastry around the mixture in each muffin hole.
Bake the tartes for 15-20 minutes (you might use a baking tray under the muffin tin as the caramel has a tendency to spill over and create a mess on the bottom of your oven) until they’re darkly colored and the pastry has a flaky, almost papery quality. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out on to individual plates. Garnish with the basil and black olive and serve.