Tarte Tatin is an upside-down tart of apples or other fruit. According to the website WhatsCookingAmerica, legend has it that Tarte Tartin originated in France:
Two French sisters, Carolina (1847-1911) and Stephine Tatin (1838-1917), created the tart. The sisters lived in Lamotte-Beuvron, a small rural town in the Loire Valley of France, owned and ran the hotel called l’Hotel Tatin in 1888. The elder sister, Stéphanie, dealt with the kitchen. She was a particularly fine cook but was not the brightest of people. Her specialty was an apple tart, served perfectly crusty, caramelized and which melted in the mouth. One day during the hunting season, during the midday scramble, Stephanie placed her tart in the oven the wrong way round. The pastry and apples were upside-down but, nevertheless, she served this strange dessert without giving it time to cool. The French call this dessert tarte des demoiselles Tatin (the tart of two unmarried women named Tatin).
My recipe uses vine-ripe tomatoes and sweet onions. It was suggested by our son, Robert, who sent three articles on Tomato Tarte Tatin to get me motivated. Here’s what I came up with:
Tomato Layer Ingredients:
3 pounds plum tomatoes
4 garlic cloves (sliced thin)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Onion Layer Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large sweet onions (halved and sliced thin)
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 basil leaves (chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional Ingredients for Assembly:
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (thawed)
honey (about ¼ cup)1 egg plus ¼ teaspoon water (beaten together)
Fresh Mascarpone (for garnish)
Basil Leaves (for garnish)
Tomato Layer Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Slice tomatoes into quarters (lengthwise), then seed and core them. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the garlic equally between the two sheets. Do the same for the tomatoes. Sprinkle with sugar, salt, and ground pepper. Drizzle oil over both sheets coating tomatoes and garlic. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
Onion Layer Directions:
While tomatoes are roasting, heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and immediately decrease the heat to medium-low and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. When the onions are lightly browned, remove them from the stove and stir in the mustard and chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray two round 9-inch baking pans with cooking spray. Slightly heat honey and brush a light coating on bottoms of pans. Cover the bottom of the pans with tomatoes, skin side down. Try to make this layer pretty. It is the first thing folks see because you will turn the finished tarte over to unmold it. Layer the onions on top of the tomatoes.
Cut each sheet of pastry to fit baking pans. Place one sheet on top of each of the tomato/onion layers (not across the top of the pans but laying on top of the tomato/onion layers). Brush the tops of pastry with the egg-wash and sprinkle a little salt on top of that. Bake until brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
To serve, run a knife around the inside of the pans. Put a plate on top of one pan, and using a hot pad, hold the pan against the plate and flip them over together. Do the same for the second pan. Garnish each tarte with a small scoop of mascarpone and a basil leaf. Before bringing the Tatin tartes to the table, say a silent blessing that sister Stéphanie was not the sharpest knife in the drawer!
Note: My friend, Candace, made this with a polenta base instead of the puff pastry. It looked wonderful. Next time I’m gonna spread a ½-inch layer of polenta on top of the tomato/onion layers instead of using puff pastry. Can’t wait!