This tarte tatin was my way of using up a handful of grape tomatoes, and some goat cheese. I know, I got a bit carried away, but oh was it worth the amount of steps it took to make this!!! The good thing about it is that most of the steps can be done a day or two ahead, with assembly and baking taking only a short time.
As I said, definitely worth the time...crisp, flaky almond and fennel pastry; sweet, tender and juicy shallots; sweet, salty and chewy bacon bits; juicy tomatoes and creamy, tart goat cheese. My husband is still raving about it, and we had this last night.
That being said, let's make some pastry dough:
In a food processor, combine:
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup roughly chopped whole almonds
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground fennel seeds
Process until the nuts are finely ground.
3 ounces of cold butter, cubed
Process until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
With the processor running, add:
1 - 3 tablespoons of cold water
Add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the mixture resembles wet crumbs that will stick together when pressed between your fingers.
Dump the mixture onto the counter.
Gently knead or press the dough together to form a ball. Flatten it and wrap with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.
For the shallots, peel and quarter:
14 large shallots
In a heavy bottomed pan, large enough to hold the shallots in one layer, heat:
1 ounce butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
When the butter has melted, and it starts to bubble, add:
1/3 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
When the sugar has dissolved and combined with the oil and butter to form a bubbling caramel, add the shallots to the pan.
Keep them in one layer, and cook on a low heat, turning occasionally to coat all sides with the caramel during cooking.
Cook until the shallots are tender, about 20 - 25 minutes.
Remove the shallots from the pan, and reserve the caramel. I tried to keep as many shallots as I could together, so that I could arrange them nicely, but that is your choice. It takes a bit more time and care.
For the bacon, turn the oven on to 400F, and line a baking sheet with foil, and then place a rack on top of the foil.
Turn the reserved caramel back onto a low heat. Add:
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
Bring to a boil, and reduce until it starts to get syrupy. Remove from the heat.
Lay the bacon onto the rack, and brush the top side with half of the Balsamic caramel.
4 strips of bacon, cut in half
Bake the bacon until the caramel is bubbling, and the bacon is half cooked. Using tongs, turn the bacon strips over, and brush the second side with the remaining caramel. Continue to bake until the bacon is fully cooked and crispy, and the caramel is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow the bacon to cool completely. As it cools, it will harden slightly.
To assemble, lightly grease the bottom of a pie plate.
Arrange any 'kept together' shallots around the outside if you wish to go this route.
Fill the gaps with:
12 - 14 grape tomatoes, halved
the remaining shallots
Add the candied bacon, that has cooled and been diced.
Roll the pastry out so that it is slightly larger than the pie plate, to a thickness of about 1/8".
Carefully lift the pastry up and place it over the filling, tucking it down around the sides, and trimming the edges as shown.
Brush with egg wash.
Bake at 350F until the pastry is crisp and golden, and the filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave for a couple of minutes.
Put a plate or cutting board over the pie plate, and carefully invert it, so that the tarte tatin unmoulds with the pastry on the bottom and the filling on the top.
Crumble soft goat cheese over the top of the tart tatin.
To serve, cut the tarte tatin into 4 pieces, and serve with salad, or as a side for roast lamb or pork. I served it with an arugula and spinach salad.
- Yes, this recipe involves a lot of steps, but most can be done ahead. Making the pastry only takes a few minutes, as does the prep for getting the shallots into the pan. Cooking them takes a while, but only requires a bit of attention.
- For the pastry, any nuts can be used. I have made this with pecans, for the post Fig, Brie and Prosciutto Crostata with a Pecan Crust.
- The fennel seeds can be changed to a herb or spice that you prefer, or is more suited to the nut you have chosen.
- Double the recipe and freeze half of the pastry for next time.
- There is no need to be extra careful with the shallots, that was just me wanting the arranged effect. If you thinly slice the shallots they will cook faster.
- Onions can be used instead of shallots.
- Apple or pear wedges can be cooked in the caramel as well; this would be a nice addition if you are serving the tarte tatin alongside roast pork.
- Bacon can be diced and cooked in a pan instead of candied; cook extra next time you are cooking bacon, and dice and freeze it. One less step to making the tart.
- The cheese is optional; I felt that the tartness of it complimented the sweetness of the tart.