Friday, March 19, 2010

Tart Tatin

While most of the time I eat low carb, there are those occasions that just call for something a special.   I'm also the designated family baker.  The fiance and I are having my folks over to dinner tomorrow night for the first time, so I'm making coq au vin and a tart tatin with creme anglaise. 

A tart tatin is just a simple apple tart.  Traditionally it's made in a cast iron pan but if you don't have one, it's still doable.  The creme anglaise is a custard sauce, so basically this is a dressed up version of apple pie with ice cream.

Creme Anglaise

1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 split vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar

Fill a large bowl halfway with ice cubes and a little water (not much!!); set aside. 

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk, sugar and vanilla bean to a simmer over a medium low heat.  Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl until they lighten in color, 2-3 minutes.  Once the milk comes to a simmer, take off the stove. 

Here's the fun part - you have to incorporate the hot milk/sugar/vanilla mix into the egg yolks without scrambling them.  While whisking the yolks, drizzle a little of the milk in at a time until it's all incorporated.  Pour the mix back into the saucepan and add the remainder of the cream.   Put the medium size bowl into the ice bath and put a fine sieve into it.  Continue to stir the custard over the stove until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.   Pour through the sieve back into the medium bowl on top of the ice bath, making sure there's no water from the ice bath slopping over into the top bowl.  Remove the seive (which should have caught any lumps that might be in the custard).   Let the custard cool over the ice bath, stirring occasionally.   When cool, pour into a container and cover; refrigerate for several hours. 

If you wanted to, you could also serve this custard warm.  Skip the ice bath, but make sure you seive.

You can also flavor the custard with a couple of tablespoons of liquor, cinnamon, other flavors of extract - it's a really versatile sauce that's great with any kind of fruit pie, crumble, betty, cobbler, or just over fresh fruit.

Tart Tatin

4-5 apples that cook well, such as golden delicious, peeled, cored, and sliced
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 - 1 cup of sugar (how much sugar depends on how tart/sweet the apples are)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons brandy or rum
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator

Set a 9 inch glass pie pan out and spray with cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over a medium heat.   Add the apples and stir occasionally until the apples start releasing their juices.  Add the brandy, sugar and cinnamon and continue to stir occasionally until apples are cooked but not mushy.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the apples to the pie pan and spread into an even layer, leaving as much cooking liquid in the pan as possible.  Continue cooking the pan liquid until reduced to a thick syrup.   Pour the syrup evenly over the apples. 

Unfold the puff pastry and push down on top of the apples.  Trim excess off with a knife.   Bake at 400 F for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. 

Let the tart cool for about 10-15 minutes.   Run a sharp knife around the top of the puff pastry to make sure it's not sticking to the pie plan.  Place a large plate with has a little of a lip around it (to catch the juices) on top of the pie pan and carefully flip the pan over so the tart comes out on the plate.  If any of the apples stick to the pan, just replace them on top of the tart.  

Cut into wedges and serve with a spoonful of creme anglaise on top. 

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