I don’t suffer from emotional eating. It’s rather the other way around, some dishes make me emotional. Take this simple French apple pie, for example: it served the high purpose to make my day caramel-ish, apple-ish and puff-ish. To cry for, in other words. It also came to remind me that my glucose levels can be challenged, sometimes. All this sugar… in the end nothing more than a form of exercise for my metabolism. Or something like that, hopefully.
I’ve been meaning to make a Tarte Tatin by the letter of the book for quite some time. My last two free-style tarte Tatins were “flawed” because of my candid belief that it is possible to make sweets without sugar (and I’m still slightly in denial). Inspired by the story of this classic French dessert and my big love for baked apples I decided to give it another try, with all the ingredients in place this time.
By the way, do you know the story of the Tarte Tatin? Once upon a time there were two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin, owners of the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte -Beuvron, France. Stéphanie knew how to prepare a great apple pie for her clients but one day, perhaps a busy day with too many guests, she missed an ingredient. She just sprinkled apples with sugar and baked the mixture without the crust.
Later on she realized the mistake and tried to make it up by placing over the apples a thin layer of pastry crust. After a few minutes in the oven, she did nothing but flip over the cake on a dish and served the pie still warm.
This tart is simply delicious, trust me. It comes with a perfect contrast between the soft and juicy caramelized apples and the base, a not too buttery but perfectly soft layer from a ready made puff pastry (I always use Jus Rol for this type of jobs). When served, warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or unsweetened crème fraiche it just reaches perfection.
Final Confession: I haven’t planned to make this classic dessert so dark from the start. It happened to be “noir” because of my reluctance to white caster sugar (and more in general to all foods that are chemically whitened). What I found out: molasses and coconut sugar do not turn into a blonde caramel but in a pitchy caramel sauce with fantastic nutty notes and beautiful depth of flavor. I’ll keep making my caramel this way.
p.s. I always thought that the story of the Tarte Tatin was a good example of how French, as Italians, can master the art of doing the best that they can in difficult moments (we Italians have one single word to say “to do the best that you can in difficult moments”…”arrangiarsi”).
Dark Tarte Tatin
- 400 g puff pastry thawed
- 100 g molasses sugar I mixed 50g molasses with 50 g coconut sugar
- 75 ml water
- 6 medium dessert apples
- 50 g butter
- a pinch of cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 220ºC (200ºC fan assisted)/425ºF/Gas 7.
- Have ready a 20 cm/8” dish.
- Roll out the pastry large enough to cut out a disc as large as the tin you will be using, place on a sheet of baking paper and put to chill.
- Gently heat together the sugar and water in a heavy pan until the sugar is dissolved, meanwhile grease the tin well with some of the butter and peel, core and cut the apples in half. Add the apples and cinnamon to the sugar mixture and cook for 6-8 minutes.
- Then arrange the apples (with the rounds size on top) with the caramel sauce on the baking tin, dot with remaining butter.
- Slide pastry disc over apples, tucking in excess all round, prick top of pastry and bake for about 25 minutes until pastry is risen and golden brown.
- Remove from oven and immediately, but carefully invert onto a larger plate. Serve warm or cold with a dollop of ice cream on top.