If you’ve ever had Tarte Tatin, you know it’s one of the best desserts you could ever possibly desire. It consists of caramelized apples baked with a circle of pastry dough placed on top and then flipped over to reveal tender fruit, great caramel and buttery pastry. It’s traditionally served with crème fraiche or a slice of Camembert. Super good.
For something slightly different but just as supremely delicious, strawberries are used in this recipe in place of the apples. Their tart acidity is a perfect foil for the caramel. I also add a splash of balsamic for some delicious complexity. The water content of the strawberries renders the juices into a luscious thinner sauce rather than a caramel per se and the flavor of the fruit combined with the buttery pastry is irresistible.
I use a simple butter pastry called Rough Puff. It’s a very streamlined version of puff pastry that isn’t difficult or complicated, it just takes a bit of time. You can of course substitute store bought puff if you prefer or make your own favorite butter pastry.
While strawberries are looking so beautiful and still in good supply, this is a great dessert to serve after a sumptuous summer dinner. It's a simple combination of ingredients that really delivers a good measure of pure pleasure. A dollop of whipped cream is a must.
- Donna Hay’s recipe is for 4 servings but I double it for 6 servings. I didn’t think there was enough caramel sauce in the original recipe and I used a bit more strawberries.
- The dough comes together very quickly in a food processor. It will not look like a dough but rather like a slightly moist cottage cheese. The important thing is to keep visible pieces of butter in tact and avoid blending it all into the flour.
- When shaping and folding the dough, do your best to keep the edges straight and aligned when folding. Lightly dust with flour as you go and then brush off any excess flour before folding.
- Use ramekins that are 4” x 1 3/4” because the fruit does bubble up quite a bit during the baking process.
- The caramel should only be a light golden brown, not dark as with Apple Tarte Tatin.
Strawberry Tarte Tatins
adapted from Donna Hay
Makes 6 servings
Rough Puff Pastry
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz (8 tablespoons) very cold butter
6 tablespoons (3 oz) very cold water
1 3/4 - 2 lbs fresh strawberries
2 oz (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) water
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
1/2 cup (4 oz) heavy cream
1 teaspoon (4 grams) sugar
For the pastry dough, place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and combine. Cut the cold butter into 1/2” cubes and add. Pulse just until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the cold water and pulse just until the mixture resembles something like a slightly moist cottage cheese. Gather the dough and place on a piece of plastic wrap. Form a disc, seal it tightly and chill for 1/2 hour.
Lightly flour a work surface. Roll the dough out to about an 8” x 4” rectangle, lightly flouring as needed. Fold the shorter sides of the dough in equal thirds like a letter, keeping the edges as evenly lined up as possible. With the open edges perpendicular to you and seam side down, roll it again into an 8” x 4” rectangle, lightly dusting with flour as needed and then using a pastry brush to remove any excess flour before folding. Turn it and fold the shorter sides of the dough again into thirds. Repeat this process one more time for a total of three times. If at any point the dough starts becoming too soft or elastic, let it rest in the refrigerator for a while before continuing. Lastly, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 1/4” thick. Take both shorter sides and fold toward the center like a book, keeping the edges as straight as possible. Then fold one side over the other so there are 4 equal layers on top of one another. Wrap the dough and rest in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8” thick. Brush off any excess flour. Cut out circles 4 1/4” in diameter and place on a baking sheet. Chill until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly butter six 4 ounce ramekins.
Hull and cut the strawberries in half. Distribute them among the ramekins, cut side up. Set aside.
Place the butter, sugar and water in a saucepan. Split and seed the vanilla bean and add. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring once to combine. Boil until it starts to take on a golden color, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Remove the vanilla bean.
Pour the caramel mixture over the strawberries. Top with the round pastry dough circles, pressing down slightly and tucking in.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling vigorously, about 25 – 30 minutes. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and let the tatins rest for about 10 minutes. Carefully turn out the tatins by placing a plate or shallow bowl on top of the ramekin and inverting quickly.
Whip the cream and sugar to soft peak. Serve the tatins warm with a dollop of cream.