Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin

Recipe: Tomato Tarte Tatin from Bon Appetit.

I really, strongly dislike tomatoes, but life gave me tomatoes. So I made a tomato tart.

In their August issue, Bon Appetit magazine has an unusual series of three desserts made with summer vegetables (tomatoes, corn, and zucchini) that I was fascinated by. The other night, I went out in my backyard and the tomato plant that sprouted up in my backyard (with no help from me, of course) had produced about 20 ripe cherry tomatoes. Not wanting my little volunteers to go to waste, I decided to try Bon Appetit’s  tomato tarte Tatin.

The topping for the tart seems pretty simple. Rub a huge chunk (3 tbsp, to be exact) of butter in a pan, sprinkle some sugar over top, spread the tomato halves in one layer, turn the stove on, and all but forget about it while the butter and sugar turn into golden caramel.

One lesson I learned when I made this beautiful golden caramel: if you let it sit too long, it will turn from syrup into hard candy. I made this just before I had to leave the house for a few hours, but I figured it would be okay if I just left it to sit. I got back and it was as hard as a rock. But I had a secret weapon – a water bath. I put the pan over a pot of simmering water, and softened the caramel to a syrup again. Nice trick, right?

Phyllo dough is the crust for this tart. I laid it over top the caramel and tomatoes and put the skillet in the oven. This is the part where I started to wonder if I was going to be able to unmold the tart from the pan easily, or if I would have to get a knife and pry it off in pieces.

After the phyllo dough finished browning, I inverted the skillet, and the tart loosened beautifully. Okay, it doesn’t look beautiful in the picture, but it was in one piece, which is better than I thought it would turn out.  Only a thin layer of caramel was left in the skillet, and I was able to get that off with a rubber spatula. Good thing this recipe had so much butter.

The final test was the taste test. Tomatoes have to be pretty well disguised (as in tomato sauce) before I can enjoy them, so I really didn’t expect to like this dessert.

I should have known that you can’t go wrong with caramel, though. By cooking the tomatoes long enough in it, they turned into moist little raisin-y things, but with more complexity than raisins. This tart was so good that I ate a second piece the next day, and it was even better then. The only real change I would make would be to make a pie dough crust instead of using phyllo dough, or brush the phyllo dough with butter before baking it.  The phyllo dough got so crisp that layers shattered all over the place when I cut the tart or bit into it.

So my mind has been changed about tomatoes in desserts, but I still won’t touch them in their raw form.

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Filed under Successes, Tomatoes

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