Sunday, 6 November 2011

Spicy Red Wine Apple Tarte Tatin

There will be no anecdotes to accompany this recipe not just because I'm feeling lazy but I don't want anything to steal the spotlight from this truly heavenly dessert.  This post should only be about this apple tarte tatin, nothing more.  I will not mention the conditions in which I made this in (after failing a test and being on the verge of tears), because it doesn't matter.  All that matters is that this was beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.  A sweet and spicy tart reminiscent of Christmas and everything that's good in life.  It's time consuming but your house will be filled with the aroma of mulled wine making the whole process quite therapeutic -- a cure to all stress and worries.
This should be done in a fairly large pan (mine was about 25cm in diameter) that can be put into the oven, ie. with a metal handle.

Prep time: 1.5 hrs  Cook time: 1.25 hrs  Serves: 10 people   Suitable for:  relieving stress 

7 apples (give or take) (peeled, cored and sliced into quarters)
2 cup red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
4 cracked cardamom pods
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cherry liqueur (whatever fruity liqueur you have will do)
400g puff pastry

Heat the wine with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom over medium high heat until it's reduced to about 1/4 cup (about 20 min).  Strain and put aside.
Making the caramel
This can be tricky but the key is just patience and knowing that caramel is not your friend. Do not be tempted to play with it, you may think it's your friend because you love it but it does not love you back. Spread the sugar on an even layer on the pan over medium high heat and just watch it like a hawk. You can shake the pan about to make sure it's heating the sugar evenly but don't stir it.  It will be done once it's all melted to an amber glow.
Take it off the heat and add the wine, butter, vanilla and liqueur.  Put it back on the heat and stir until everything unifies.
Put in the apples and coat them in the caramel before reducing the heat to a simmer, letting everything rest for about 20 minutes until the apples have softened.
Preheat the oven to 180C.  Unroll the puff pastry to abou 5mm thick and cut out a circle that's about the size of your pan.  Once your apples have softened and left to cool for 10 minutes, drape the pastry over everything and tuck in the ends to the apples on the edges of the pan.  Like tugging in a baby to sleep, with care and love.
Put the pan into the oven and bake for 1 hours and 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes and carefully invert it onto a plate.

-Have fun with the caramel. And by this I mean try adding different flavors, not just mulled wine.
-Change the fruit if you like pears or bananas better than apples.

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