Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cherry Tarte Tatin Recipe: A Taste of France in New York

July is cherry season in New York and Tarte Tatin, which is a classic French upside down fruit tart made with crispy puff pastry and fruit, is a great way to show off ripe, sweet, and in-season cherries. It's a super easy dessert that will impress your guests.
Piping Hot Cherry Tarte Tatin (photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
Armed with a cherry pitter, which is an essential kitchen tool in our house, and a couple of pounds of Oxheart sweet red cherries from Red Orchards farm, I stemmed and pitted the cherries, being careful to save all the juices, in less than 15 minutes, and had a ready to bake tarte tatin 15 minutes later.

Several hours before my guests arrived, I cooked the pitted cherries for a few minutes in a saucepan, which is just long enough to soften the fruit and release the juices, then transferred the cooked fruit to my gorgeous copper tarte tatin pan (one of my fave wedding gifts). After rolling out the puff pastry and topping the pan with a slightly larger circle of dough, I stored the tart in the refrigerator to ensure the puffed pastry stayed cool which is essential to achieve a proper "puff".

The guests devoured the grilled porterhouse steak and pesto smothered corn that I made in the smoker, and while we were cleaning up I preheated my Breviille countertop oven, which proved to be super reliable way to bake a tarte tatin (and the preferred method in a heatwave), and moved the oven-ready tarte from the fridge to the hot oven. 

Just Out of the Oven Cherry Tarte Tatin (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
I presented the finished tart to my guests in the copper pan before flipping it over onto a deep serving platter so that the the crispy puffed pastry crust was on the bottom and the juicy hot cherries were on the top . A dollop of gently whipped heavy cream made for a truly elegant, yet simple presentation (vanilla ice cream would be delicious too).

Cherry Tarte Tatin Recipe 
1 10-12" tarte tatin pan or small oven-proof skillet

cherry pitter

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 1/4 pound sweet red cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon of flour
1-2 tablespoons of sugar, optional
1 pint of whipping cream or vanilla Ice Cream

Wash cherries and removed stems and pit with a cherry pitter being sure to save the juice. Taste the cherries to decide how much, if any, sugar to use. Add cherries and one tablespoon each of water and flour to a saucepan (and 1-2 tablespoons of sugar if desired). Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes until the fruit softens. Transfer the fruit to a 10" tarte tatin pan or similar size oven-proof skillet. Removed the puff pastry from the refrigerator and lightly flour a surface. Using a rolling pin, roll a sheet of the pastry to the size you want and cut a circle shape slightly larger than the pan size with a knife. Being careful not to tear the pastry round, transfer from your work area and drape the puff pastry over the top of the copper pan (or skillet). Refrigerate tarte until you are ready to bake. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is a dark golden color for maximum crispiness. Watch carefully so it does not burn. Let cool for 5 minutes before flipping over onto a deep round serving platter (use a deep platter so the juices don't run off the sides). Cut and serve, topping with homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

For an interesting story of how TARTE TATIN, which is from France circa 1880's, was discovered read this article or check out this blog post from 2008. Like many famous desserts, it was the result of a mistake.

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