It was the summer of 2006. My sister Carola (aka Carru) and I went to a wedding in Paris and spent 10 days having entrecôte, des frites, lentil and onion soups, du fromage, crêpes and du vin.
We went to visit the Champagne region with our friend Cecile, who arranged private tastings for us at Maison Delamotte and Möet et Chandon, both in Épernay.
We were so lucky that we spent the night with friends in a little house located at Rue Dom Pérignon, a street named after the Benedictine monk who, more than three centuries ago, made major contributions to the champenoise method to make the finest sparkling wines.
That morning the bells from the abbey where Dom Pierre Pérignon is buried, woke us up.
Carru and I had a plan (we still have it but we put it on hold, since I moved to Southern California.)
We had decided to visit the world’s vineyards and, thinking big, La Champagne was our first stop.
Back in Paris, walking by Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Michelin guide in hand, it started to rain torrents and suddenly we found ourselves running for shelter.
We made it to café Les Deux Magaux, where Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir had their rendezvous, and Albert Camus and Pablo Picasso were habitués.
I ordered Tarte Tatin aux Pommes, a classic French dessert made out of caramelized apples.
That piece of pie was the most perfect upside down apple pie with crème fraîche that I ever had.
I treasured that flavor, texture and warm sensation in my heart and palate for the last six years. But it wasn’t until I mastered the art of making my worry free pie dough, a couple of months ago, that I decided to make my own apple tarte tatin.
Comparable in simplicity and elegance with crème brulé, this is one of the easiest desserts ever: besides de pie crust, it’s made out of three ingredients: apples, sugar and butter. Here is, to my loving sister Carru, my recipe!
Tarte Tatin aux Pommes | Ingredients for 8 portions
1 pie dough recipe (please substitute the sugar for ¼ tsp. of salt)
¾ cup of sugar
6-7 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered and cored,
2 Tbs. of lemon juice
4 Tbs. of butter
Whipping cream or crème fraîche
In a bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a 10-inch skillet over low heat, cook the sugar until it begins to melt. Stir until the sugar turns brown. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange the apples rounded side down in concentric circles. Fill the gaps with more pieces of apples. Place the butter over the apples. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes until the sugar turns into a dark caramel.
In a floured surface, with a roller, roll the dough into a circle ¼ inch thick. Carefully place the dough circle on top of the skillet with the apples. Trim the dough. Place the skillet on the bottom rack of the oven and bake it for 25 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes. With a knife, loosen the tart around the edges. Place a serving dish on top of the skillet. With the help of two kitchen towels, quickly and carefully, invert the tart into the dish. Serve warm with whipping cream or crème fraîche.
|Carru is not here because she was taking the picture. With Stan and Ceci.|