Pear-Cranberry Tarte Tatin
Trisha ThompsonTrisha Thompson makes a Pear-Cranberry Tarte Tatin recipe in this installment of KitchenDaily's Family Chef series, in which home cooks make recipes from our database and tell you how it went -- what they changed, what they kept and who was in the kitchen helping.
I'd been trying to get over my fear of ever making tarte tatin again. I'd made it for a family celebration, and it had taken the last month for the post-traumatic tarte tatin stress (PTTTS) to subside. No one died eating it, in fact the flavor was fine, but what a freaking terrifying mess it was to flip over...and then attempt to put back together again. If I hadn't stumbled upon this vintage Julia Child video, wherein the famous French Chef's tarte tatin also falls apart when flipped, I'm not sure I would have ever laughed in the kitchen again, or at least not that same day.
When I saw this Pear-Cranberry Tarte Tatin recipe, I felt encouraged, like maybe I was ready to get back on the tatin horse and try again. This was, in part, because the recipe looked so un-intimidating -- it has just four ingredients and five instructions. It was also because of the photo -- in it the fruit is cut into nice, big quarters, rather than in thin slices, as I had been instructed to do in the previous, flawed recipe. This, I thought, was key to the structural integrity of an upside-down tart, keeping the fruit whole enough that it doesn't have a chance to cook into mush, which, I have learned, cannot be flipped.
I wanted to compare apples to apples, not apples to pears, so I used apples in this recipe again, as I had in my earlier attempt. I added a stick of butter to the cup of sugar, to make it more of a caramel flavor, and I cooked the peeled apple quarters right in the same pan on the stove for about the amount of time suggested (30-35 minutes), until the sugar-butter-fruit mixture was a delicious, bubbling amber color. I took the pan off the stove and laid the pastry crust over the fruit, carefully tucking it into the inner edge of the pan (for easier flipping, I hoped). My crust was ready-to-use, but that's because my teenage daughter had made a double-crust recipe and frozen this one (we use basically the same homemade pie crust recipe that my fellow Family Chef blogger Naomi Shulman uses). Baked all together this way, it took more like half an hour for my crust to get golden-brown.
The result? Well, look at the picture. Nothing has ever looked so appealing on that silver tray. In fact, now when I see the silver tray, my mouth begins to water and I seem to detect the intoxicating scent of dark-cooked sugar and butter and fruit and pastry. After 20 minutes of cooling (I think this is important too), the tart flipped right out of the pan with only a minor adjustment for looks, thanks to those quartered (not thinly sliced!) pieces of fruit. Wish I could share that tip with Julia.
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Trisha Thompson is co-owner of Small Batch Books, a private publisher of memoirs, commemorative books, and other works. She also blogs about teens at The Faster Times. She lives and cooks (in small batches) with her husband, Fred, and her daughters Madeline (17) and Eleanor (14).
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