Wednesday, July 2, 2008
A classic Tarte Tatin is an upside-down apple tart in which the apples are caramelized in butter and sugar before being baked.
Tradition says that Tarte Tatin was first created by accident at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France, in 1889. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. Stéphanie, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie, but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the pie by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests complimented her on the dessert.
Tarte Tatin became a signature dish at the hotel, and the recipe spread through the Sologne region. Its lasting fame is probably due to the restaurateur Louis Vaudable, who tasted the tart on a visit to Sologne and made the dessert a permanent fixture on the menu at his restaurant, Maxim's of Paris.
Restaurant versions frequently include a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or warmed heavy cream as an accompaniment. Yum!
Note: Tarte Tatin can also be made with pears, peaches or even pineapple. Savory versions are often made with tomatoes or onions.