Now that the holiday food frenzy has wound down, it might be a good idea to (at least) think about lightening things up a bit. Nothing fits that bill more than a perky dose of bright fresh citrus. During the grey drab winter months, varieties of citrus offer bursts of sunshine. ‘Tis the season for everyday citrus to step into the light. Sweetened up a bit, or a lot, their bright acidic undertones still poke through the fray and take center stage.
“Anything, and I mean anything, that has to be assembled, cooked, and inverted is risky business. There’s always that moment of truth that comes with the big reveal.”
I held to that notion with a riff on tarte tatin. Oh sure, while an orange tarte tatin teeters on the edge of sweet, it still brings a bright acidity to the party for an interesting take on the traditional. Typically filled with apples, pears, or other kinds of stone fruit, they can really be filled with just about anything. That said, they can also be very tricky.
Anything, and I mean anything, that has to be assembled, cooked, and inverted is risky business. There’s always that moment of truth that comes with the big reveal. The big flip and turnout. Will it slip right out? Will it Stick? Will it half stick, half slip? Will it be burned? Will it be cooked? Ultimately, will it fail? More times than not, tarte tatins behave beautifully. Go for it. No risk, no reward. Either it’ll flip out beautifully or it’ll flop out and make a great topping for ice cream Sundays. Either way, it’s a total win. Go big and let the tarte tatin fall where it may.
Orange Tarte Tatin
Tart tatins are simple little things. That said, their simplicity belies their wow factor.
After melting 2/3 cups of light brown sugar and 6 tablespoons salted butter in a cast iron skillet, I overlapped thinly sliced oranges concentrically around the skillet until they covered the bottom before returning the skillet to the flame. When the sugar started bubbling under and around the oranges, I pulled the skillet from the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes before covering the oranges with a sheet of thawed puff pastry and tightly tucking the overhanging pastry around the edges of the oranges, allowing the pastry to come in contact with the bottom of the skillet.
To give it a little extra richness and crunch, I buttered the puff pastry with salted butter, letting the extra butter drip down the edges and pool around the pastry before sliding the tarte tatin into a preheated 400 degree oven. At the 40 minute mark, the pastry was beautifully browned and crisp, so I pulled it from the oven to bubble down and cool for just a bit, about 5 minutes. Being mindful to catch it before the sugared oranges hardened and set up completely, I carefully inverted the tarte tatin onto a plate before drizzling the aromatic sticky syrup over the top to literally seal the deal.
It slipped right out. No drama. No half in, half out. Glistening from the caramelized syrup, the glazed oranges seemed to melt into the shatteringly crisp pastry. Sticky and soft, the sweetened pulp countered the flaky crunch of the crust and the firm bite of the candied peels in a way that was reminiscent of freshly-made fancy orange marmalade slathered over simple buttered toast.
No risk, no reward.
This article also appears on page 16 of the January 2022 print edition of Ace.
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