Bon Appétit (August2010)
We can debate for days about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. But at least we can all agree it's not a dessert.
Or can we?
When we first spied this recipe in Bon Appétit, we were expecting it to be a savory dish for brunch, like something you would serve in lieu of quiche.
But while digging through our magazines looking for dessert ideas for a small dinner party we were throwing last night, we took another look. It's a dessert! Once we realized that, we knew we had to try it for ourselves!
We get our CSA vegetables on Tuesdays. This week, some friends (who were out of town on vacation) offered to give us their share as well. Since we were going to have a ton of fresh produce -- huge tomatoes, a mountain of squash, and more eggplant than we can handle -- we decided to throw a last-minute dinner party.
This recipe is what we selected to help us use a good bit of the tomatoes. The only problem is that this recipe calls for plum tomatoes, but we only had larger, heirloom tomatoes from the farm. Of course, we opted to use the large tomatoes we already had. But that may have led to a few little problems.
Though it takes
time, the process of making this Tarte Tatin is quite easy. We first
skinned, cored and quartered the tomatoes, and then placed them in a
cast iron skillet along with butter and sugar.
This was the first point at which we realized our tomatoes might
not be the best for this recipe. While the recipe calls for 25 minutes
of medium heat cooking until the sugar and butter form a "thickly
bubbling, deep amber syrup", our syrup was still thin at this point.
Perhaps our tomatoes have much more juice than plum tomatoes? We
continued cooking, adding an additional 10 minutes, until our syrup
matched the desired description.
Once our syrup formed, we laid a piece of thawed puff pastry over the top and transferred the pan to the oven to bake.
Our tarte came out of the oven well before we were ready to serve it.
At this point, we were tempted to go ahead and invert the tarte onto a
serving dish (as directed), but then we decided to let it sit and cool a
bit longer while we finished our entrees.
This turned out to be the right call, because when we flipped the pan over, releasing the tarte onto the serving dish, we discovered that our tarte still had a significant amount of liquid on the bottom. So, as you can see, our dessert wasn't very pretty.
It was, however, delicious. Everyone at our table raved, saying that they couldn't believe how much it tasted like we had used a sweet fruit, and that they just couldn't believe it was tomatoes. We thought the tarte was great, reminding us a lot of a peach pie. Sweet and summery and tasty!
But still, we just couldn't make ourselves serve the tarte with whipped cream, as the recipe suggests.
Tomatoes for dessert? Great!
Tomatoes and whipped cream? That just seems ... wrong.
- 1 3/4 pounds plum tomatoes (8 large)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed, corners cut off to make very rough 9- to 10-inch round
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream
Preheat oven to 425°F. Bring large saucepan of water to boil. Cut shallow X in bottom of each tomato. Add 4 tomatoes to boiling water. Blanch tomatoes just until skins at X begin to peel back, 15 to 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer blanched tomatoes to bowl of ice water to cool quickly. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Peel tomatoes. Cut out cores, halve lengthwise, and remove seeds.
Spread butter over bottom of 91/2-inch-diameter, 2- to 3-inch-deep ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron). Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar over butter. Arrange tomato halves, rounded side down and close together, in concentric circles in skillet to fill completely.
Place skillet over medium heat. Cook until sugar and butter are reduced to thickly bubbling, deep amber syrup (about 1/4 inch deep in bottom of skillet), moving tomatoes occasionally to prevent burning, about 25 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Immediately drizzle vanilla over tomatoes. Top with pastry round. Using knife, tuck in edges of pastry. Cut 2 or 3 small slits in pastry. Place skillet in oven and bake tart until pastry is deep golden brown, about 24 minutes.
Cool tart in skillet 10 minutes. Cut around sides of skillet to loosen pastry. Place large platter over skillet. Using oven mitts as aid, hold skillet and platter firmly together and invert, allowing tart to settle onto platter. Carefully lift off skillet. Rearrange any tomato halves that may have become dislodged.
Serve tart warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.