Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Swear I Was Sleepwalking (with Recipes for Pear and Apple Tarte Tatin and Salted Honey Caramels)

I rarely eat sweets. I don’t make them (except for Christmas presents, of course). I don’t buy them.

It’s not that I don’t want them; it’s that when they are in my house, they won’t shut up. They talk to me. They say, “Please eat me. Please, now. I want to be eaten now. Please don’t abandon me in the kitchen. Please eat me.”

So what can I do? Who wants to be cruel to a cookie? Or a tart? Not me, that’s for sure. So I do. Eat them, that is. Eat them until they are gone. I’m the ultimate can’t eat just one girl. My sister is the same way.

I can’t explain what happened today. One minute I was reading the Apples & Thyme round-ups here and here, and the next thing I knew there were honey caramels bubbling on the stove and a Pear and Apple Tarte Tatin in the oven. The power of the recipes that cooks had submitted to Apples & Thyme was too much for me.

I may have to extend the “don’t make them, don’t buy them” rule to include a new proviso: don’t read about them. I'm too suggestible.

As soon as they were done, I bundled up the Pear and Apple Tarte Tatin (minus one piece) and the Salted Honey Caramels (honest, I only had one) and delivered them to my husband's office. The cacophony of pleading coming from the kitchen overwhelmed me. The sweets had to get out of the house before I succumbed.

The worst part is, both items tasted absolutely delicious. But they had to go, so they did.

Pear and Apple Tarte TatinPear and Apple Tarte Tatin
Adapted from Riana Ligarde’s recipe for Tarte Tatin at Garlic Breath.
Tarte Tatin is a tart cooked upside down, usually made with apples. In this variation, I’ve combined apples with pears for a lovely fall dessert.

1 1/3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup dark brown sugar
4 Tbsp. butter
2 apples
3 pears

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Crust: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor (if doing by hand, whisk the dry ingredients together). Cut the butter into cubes, add the cubes to the dry ingredients, and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal (if doing by hand, cut the butter into the dry ingredients). Add the milk and pulse (or stir) just until the dough starts to come together. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Filling: Peel and core the apples and pears. Slice into eighths. Put the sugar in a dry cast iron frying pan, and cook over medium low to medium heat just until the sugar starts to melt. Quickly whisk in the butter. Evenly distribute the melted butter and sugar over the bottom of the cast iron pan. Arrange the apples and pears over the butter and sugar, alternating slices of apples and pears. (If you don't have a cast iron pan, you can make the Tarte Tatin in a 10-inch buttered cake pan, make the caramel in a saucepan, and pour the caramel into the bottom on the cake pan.)

Roll out the dough until it is slightly larger than the frying pan. Place the rolled-out dough over the apple and pear slices. Tuck the edges under. Place in the oven and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until the dough is nicely golden brown.

Take the pan out of the oven and run a knife or spatula around the edges of the Tarte Tatin to make sure the dough won’t stick to the pan when you turn it over. Place a serving plate over the frying pan, and flip the pan so the Tarte Tatin is fruit side up on the serving plate. If any fruit sticks to the bottom on the pan, return it to where it belongs on the Tarte. Serve warm.

Salted Honey CaramelsSalted Honey Caramels
Makes 18 1 1/2” square caramels
Adapted from Pille at Nami Nami’s version of Heidi’s Honey-Espresso Caramels. I wanted to emphasize the flavor of the excellent thyme honey I brought back from Greece, so made the caramels using only honey, cream, and coarse Greek sea salt. These are very easy and quite delicious, although it takes about an hour for them to reach the proper temperature.

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup thyme honey (or other strong-flavored honey)
1 tsp. coarse sea salt, plus extra to sprinkle over

Mix the cream, honey, and salt in a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat (or else the pan will boil over; trust me, I know what I'm talking about here), and cook at a low boil until the mixture reaches 245 - 250°F or the firm ball stage (firm ball is when a tiny bit of the caramel is dropped in cold water it will form a firm, but pliable, ball). Remove the pan of caramels from the heat.

Shaping CaramelsLightly butter a piece of parchment paper, and pour the caramels onto the paper. Lightly sprinkle with salt. I placed boxes of plastic wrap and waxed paper under the parchment paper, and against the edges of the candy, to square up the sides. When the caramels firm up, cut into squares and, if you desire, wrap them in parchment paper.


Peter M said...

Do Alaskans still eat ice cream or is it too cold?

I would need some ice cream for the tarte...nice dessert.

Laurie Constantino said...

Yes we do, and yes, I agree that it would go perfectly with ice cream. But then again, what doesn't?

Cakelaw said...

I know what you are saying about sweets never keeping quiet. I make sweets and take them into work to share - I am guaranteed to only get a small taster rather than being tempted to eat the lot!

Pille said...

So happy you liked the caramels! I quite liked the coffee flavour, so I'll keep adding coffee to these caramels myself, but it's nice to know they're good without, too!

african vanielje said...

Laurie, if that's your story you stick to it girl. And next time just send the caramels to me. I'm sure they'd post well.

Cheryl said...

You may have inspired me to make time to bake this week...

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about reading food blogs and acting on them. I haven't discerned the difference yet haha.

Laurie Constantino said...

Cakelaw, taking them to work is an excellent approach, if your sweets are as chatty as mine!

Pille, I don't doubt they are great with the espresso; thanks again for the inspiration.

Inge, excellent idea!

Cheryl, if you feel like baking, that Tarte Tatin is an excellent way to go -- very easy, and oh so good.

Maryanne, it would all be easier had I been born with a little self-control! Not one of my gifts tho.

Thistlemoon said...

Those both sound great! I don't make sweets that much either. I like to have one serving of something, but I try to limit myself. So if I make a whole big cake, or tart or candy , etc it has to be for a gathering of people so I don't have to be tempted to eatit all!

David T. Macknet said...

You should try making the caramels with coffee - really. They're something else!

Laurie Constantino said...

jenndz-Yep, that is the best way to prevent overindulgence, plus you get the joy of spending time with friends.

davimack-I believe you, I really do and someday will take your advice. But you should also try them with just honey and cream -- it's a great way to showcase deep-flavored honeys. Thanks for stopping by!

test it comm said...

Nice looking tatin! The salted honey caramels sound interesting.

Anonymous said...

We must be related - sweet things and chocolate talk to me to. Love your recipes; the photos look so scrumptious.

Laurie Constantino said...

Kevin, thanks, they were really really good -- I didn't want to give them away, but I had to!

vegeyum, I'm glad someone understands how loud those sugar-filled treats can be! Thank you for the kind words about the blog!

ThreeTastes said...

I believe you, Laurie — I do the same thing! My rule of thumb — never bake sweets on a Friday. : P
I'm going to have to try those caramels using manuka honey, though . . .