The minute I felt a little bit better this past weekend, I decided my first cooking project in days was going to be one I've never made before, but always wanted to. Tarte Tatin.
Tarte Tatin is the French cousin of an apple pie. Whereas an apple pie is plump, rustic and homely albeit delicious, a Tarte Tatin, equally delicious, is skinnier, more glamorous, somehow, and more pared-down when it comes to the ingredients. In fact, all that goes into this fabulous dessert is apples, flour, sugar and fat. No cinnamon, no nutmeg, nothing.
Mind you, though, that this doesn't mean it is necessarily low calorie or low fat, although the fact that it has a single crust does mean it has fewer calories than a slice of apple pie which typically has a top and bottom crust. I also cut down on the saturated fat by using trans-fat-free shortening and soy "butter" which is actually heart-healthy.
And heck, we all need some indulgence some of the time, and what can be more wickedly good than apples baked in bubbling caramel sitting atop a crumbly, delicate crust? Just remember to limit yourself to a slice, although let me tell you, it can be a little hard to stop eating this one.
The Tarte is also easier to bake than apple pie, and because some of the cooking happens on a stovetop, it takes less time in the oven. And, cherry on the pie, the end result is a treat for the eyes. The apples, caramelized to perfect tenderness, look like glistening slivers of amber. This would be a perfect one for company you want to impress.
My Tarte Tatin, heavily adapted from a Joy of Cooking recipe, goes to Sunshinemom Harini's Food in Colors: Brown event, and to Sweet Vegan, which I'm hosting through Oct. 31.
5 medium golden delicious apples, cored and then cut into eight slices, lengthwise. I do this by cutting the apple in half, then quarters and then eighths.
1 cup vegan "butter" like Smart Balance
1 cup sugar (I use turbinado for all my baking, but you can use regular)
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
8 tbsp transfat-free shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2-4 tbsp ice-cold water
To make the crust, cut the shortening into the flour with a fork until the shortening is in small, pea-sized pieces. You can also do this in a food processor as I did, but be careful to run the motor in a few, short pulses.
Add the salt and sugar and mix with the fork.
Then drizzle in the water a few drops at a time, mixing with the fork or in the food processor until the dough starts to stick together.
Form the dough into a disc and put it in the refrigerator while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, met the vegan butter.
Remove from heat and sprinkle the sugar evenly around the skillet.
Arrange the apple slices in a ring around the edge of the skillet, filling the hole in the center with more as needed.
Return to heat and cook on high heat about 10-12 minutes until the sugar and butter form a rich amber sauce. Remove from heat and with a fork or a spatula, carefully turn the apple slices over.
Return to heat for another 5 minutes.
Take the refrigerated crust and on a floured surface, roll it into a crust slightly larger than 10 inches in diameter.
Put the crust on top of the cooked apples, and, very carefully so as to not burn yourself, tuck in the edges along the edge of the skillet.
Bake in a 375-degree oven between 25 and 35 minutes. Remove to a rack and allow it to cool at least half an hour.
To unmold, run a knife along the edges of the tart. Place a dish on top of the skillet and, with a quick motion, invert the skillet.
Et voila! I served this with a dollop of vanilla soy ice cream and it was a dessert to relish and cherish.
I can't wait to make this again!