I love the rustic presentation of Tarte Tatins. When I think of rustic desserts I think of cobblers and crisps, trifles and crostatas. I think of families and recipes passed down through the generations, and I think of the countryside, whether it's in Europe or the U.S. Comforting and inviting, rustic desserts are like the favorite pullover you reach for on a cold afternoon: warm, cozy, tried and true.
Rustic baking is beautiful to behold in its own imperfect way. It isn't fussy and and is forgiving in its portions. The food begs to be shared - plunked in the middle of a farmhouse table and served to a crowd of family and friends. And it also tastes good - really good. Caramelized and squidgy, buttery and crunchy are all adjectives that leap to mind. It's the stuff that childhood memories are made of - comfort food at its best.
Apricot Tarte Tatin is a twist on the rustic French dessert that features apples. Apples are not required, however, for a delicious Tarte Tatin. Any fruit that can be slow cooked in butter and sugar without dissolving will work: pears, plums, peaches and apricots.
Apricot Tarte Tatin
This pastry is very easy to prepare. The finished result is crumbly and buttery, a perfect complement to the caramelized apricots. Sour cream may be substituted for the cream cheese.
For the cream cheese pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/3 cup cream cheese
For the apricot filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
12 apricots, about 3 pounds, halved and pitted
1 egg, lightly beaten
Blend flour, sugar and salt in bowl of electric mixer. Add butter and beat at medium-low speed until butter is pea-sized, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and beat until moist clumps form, 1 minute. Gather dough in ball, flatten and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. (Dough may be made one day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
Spread butter over bottom of large oven-proof skillet (preferably cast iron) with sloping sides. Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar over butter. Heat over medium heat until butter melts, sugar begins to dissolve and mixture begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Arrange apricots, skin-side down, in a circular pattern in the skillet. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Return skillet to stovetop. Cook over medium heat until a thick amber colored syrup forms, repositioning skillet to ensure even cooking, 25-30 minutes.
While the apricots are cooking, preheat oven to 425 F. Roll out pastry on floured surface or parchment paper to a round shape to fit size of skillet. When the apricots are sufficiently caramelized remove skillet from heat and lay pastry over apricots. Cut 4 slits in top of pastry. Press pastry down around edge of skillet and apricots. Brush with egg.
Bake in oven until pastry is deep golden brown, 25 minutes. Remove and let rest one minute. Run knife around edge of tart. Place a large platter over skillet. Using oven mitts, hold skillet and platter together and invert tart onto platter. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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