p2: French Strawberry Pie

Well it’s the end of strawberry season here, so I had to do this guy while I still had the chance.

The Sweet

855824Strawberry Pie isn’t exactly one of the desserts one might consider or recognize in French cuisine; for good reason, as the strawberry doesn’t seem to have much role or presence in the culinary history. Though they may have used it as trade routes and transportation abilities grew more and more, but never has it boosted itself to the oft-reached for French loved ingredients like apples and figs.

So then what’s it doing in this selection?

Truthfully, I don’t know ALL the details. People just don’t want to think too much about this dessert it seems, which I guess fits into one of the recent origins in a unique way. For in most of my delving into recipe and history, a commonality I keep seeing is this dessert being referred to as “1970’s French Strawberry Pie.” Interesting, as I don’t remember French cuisine making any decade declarations with its food, especially the more recent ones, followed by one of the strangest things I’d never thought I’d come across in this adventure: Cream Cheese. Yes, as I was to discover, this “classic” dessert is mainly known for covering the bottom with a thick layer of sugar and mass-packaged soft curd. I must of skipped over that page when we covered French Cuisine and History in class.

Or, more likely, this leads back to the American 70’s, and earlier periods, in the time of Jello molds and TV Dinners, when cream cheese was mixed with all manner of things to create “amazing” desserts and centerpieces for the very popular dinner parties. From my recollection, it was also a habit at the time to add various descriptors, often of ‘origin,’ to impress those consuming these… ‘foods.’ (Should look some of it up, it’s amazing the things they made… not always in a good way) Thus is was likely someone attached the name “French” in a recipe book, likely mass-produced, and the dessert spread through various US households at the time.

So then, is it really a French dessert? In this version, no. But that’s not to say it wasn’t at one point inspired by traditional French tarts. Only they’ve swapped the Pastry Cream for cream cheese, the delicate glaze on top with a thick pile of jelly (practically turns it into a filling), and used a fruit more popular in the US. Oh, and likely used a different pie dough. So I think it’s only right, as a couple other online enthusiasts have done, to honor the basis of this recipe with some of the original French flairs, but shaped into the standard American shell with generous servings (seriously, I may have loaded up on a bit too much pastry cream… not that there really is a thing like that). Viva la France.

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

Just to get it off the bat, dough-of-choice for this round of dessert I’ve decided is Pate Brisee. Its intrigue popped up in a search for a proper “French” pie dough, being somewhat similar except for the use of Milk. That and other slight differences results in a great pre-baked crust that many equate to as “sorta like a cookie.” Sounds yummy to me.

20140716_143325To fill this cookie, considering how absolutely simple and berry-forward this dish is (no fruit cooking required), one can really only use the BEST strawberries ever. That means either getting your hands on the highly rare and seasonal Wild strawberry pickers or, almost as good, getting the good stuff from local farmer’s market in Mid-Summer. They’ve always been the highlight of the year when our market comes out, I couldn’t think of a better time to use this product and make this pie.

Pastry Cream Schematics are interestingly complex, highly debatable, and just plain a chore for those trying to find the “perfect” recipe. As such, like my little endeavors in using different crusts, I like trying out different recipes every now and then just for the heck of it. For this one I played with the idea of flour vs starch, the concept that each has a positive and negative aspect and that an “ideal” result comes in using a combination of both. One recipe had a 2:1 ratio of starch to flour, which I applied to a tasty, creamy looking crème patissiere I found. If you have your own favorite pastry cream recipe, or just wanna try the first one that looks tasty, go ahead with that one.

20140718_095540As for the Vanilla, this is one of those cases where the dish is beautifully simple but delicious enough that I find using an actual vanilla bean, if you have some and are looking for GOOD dishes to use in (without being overshadowed), worth it. The ones I have, though, are either somewhat old or are just naturally quite firm and leathery; if you have similar, I find cutting it down the middle and leaving soak with your dairy overnight softens it up to make MUCH easier handling and scraping.

20140718_214127Finally, to end this long-winded rant, we need to talk a bit about Glazing. As with practically any proper French Tart or similar dessert, to make it look pretty and taste not a bit sweeter, we usually have to brush on a thin coating of some sorta glaze over the fruit before serving. There are a couple kinds of glazes we can use, and I’ve found no real restriction on them for this dish, especially considering its high US twisting. Often it’ll be something where one cooks strawberries and sugar (maybe some liquid), mashes, strains them, and then thickens the resulting mix with cornstarch. But one could easily use syrups, other starch-thickened juice, or heat up your favorite jelly (which seems a very classically rustic method, even in France I believe).

20140718_115920For MY glaze, I decided to do something special and use one of my favorite techniques. Cut some strawberries in half, piling them in a heat-safe bowl (having a thicker, layered pile of them really helps) and let them sit on a very low-heated double-boiler for at least an hour. After some time, the berries will soften and gray but will release the most pure, simple, and fruity strawberry juice you’ll ever see. Strain this off, then reheat over the boiler with some sugar to turn into a syrup (it’s not that sweet as-is), and we’re ready to sauce, glaze, you name it. So nummy.

French Strawberry Pie20140719_120656
1 pint, or more, Awesome Strawberries
1 prepared Pate Brisee crust (recipe follows)
1-2 cups Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
Apricot/Fruit Jelly or Jam (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut steams from Strawberries and reserve some on the side, if desired, to make your preferred glaze.
  2. When ready, move to assemble pie. Cover bottom of the pre-baked Pate Brisee with Pastry Cream, about an inch thick or however much desired.
  3. Arrange whole berries, end up, on top, covering as much of the custard from sight as possible (best done with a second berry layer).
  4. Heat up glaze as needed and carefully brush over tops of the fruit. Move to fridge for everything to fully set, at least fifteen minutes.
  5. Remove, garnish with any desired meringue or whipped cream (great for filling in gaps), slice and serve.20140719_132442

Pastry Cream
1 Vanilla Bean
1 cup Cream
1 ½ cup Milk
1/3 cup Sugar
6 Egg Yolks
4 Tb Corn Starch
2 Tb Flour
Pinch Salt
2 oz/ ½ stick Cold Butter, chopped

Directions

  1. Slice Vanilla bean down the middle and scrape completely with back of knife to get as many seeds out as possible.20140718_095805
  2. Combine seeds, pod, Cream, and Milk in large sauce pan on stove, heating on Medium until Scalded, or about simmering (or hot to touch but not yet boiled).20140718_100250
  3. In bowl on side, thoroughly mix together the Yolks, Sugar, Corn Starch, Flour, and Salt, beating until pale yellow, smooth, and ribbony.20140718_100456
  4. Once hot, remove cream from stove, slowly pouring into the yolk mixture while whisking constantly to Temper. Remove leftover bean pods that have stayed on bottom of pan.20140718_101007
  5. Scrape custard back into pan and move to hot stove.20140718_102747
  6. Whisking constantly (or else it WILL burn and curdle), increasing speed the more it heats and thickens up, cook the custard until it has turned to a consistency somewhat softer than what you’re looking for.20140718_102815
  7. Take off heat, toss in Butter and continue whisking until melted.20140718_102852
  8. Quickly scrape custard into long and wide pan (loaf, brownie, etc). Cover with parchment paper and transfer to fridge to cool.20140718_103119
  9. Reserve for later use or spoon on top of fruit with whipped cream for simple and delicious instant dessert.

Pate Brisee
1 ¾ cup Flour
2/3 cup/5.3 oz/a bit over 1 1/8 stick Diced, Chilled Butter
Tsp Salt
2 tsp Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tb Cold Milk

Directions

  1. Combine Flour, Butter, Salt, Sugar, and Egg in bowl (or on countertop, however)
  2. Work butter into ingredients thoroughly with fingertips, pastry cutter, or done in a food processor, until ‘sandy’ in texture.20140718_215001
  3. Add Milk, mixing until everything comes together, adding more milk a tsp at a time if needed.
  4. Knead about 4-5 times, in hands or on surface. Flatten, wrap in plastic and chill in fridge until required.20140718_215501
  5. Turn oven to 400F.
  6. Cover counter and dough in flour, carefully rolling into a circle to fit the desired pie pan.20140718_223132
  7. Fold, transfer and tuck in. Cover with parchment and weigh down with beans or other pie weights.20140718_223919
  8. Move to oven and bake about 20 minutes, until edges are lightly golden (as they will likely cook and color faster than bottom, I suggest leaving the dough there thicker).20140718_230723
  9. Remove, let cool, and reserve for filling.

20140719_133244My Thoughts

Oh wow, the Pate Brisee actually does taste like a cookie! Sorta sugar-cookie-ish, with a nice butter richness. I’m so keeping the recipe for future pre-baked dough requirements (it doesn’t work so well when baking with fillings, apparently, unless it’s able to go for a long time without too much liquid insides).

I think the pastry cream recipe I had used a LOT more starch than was really needed, also I probably should have reduced the amount of flour in the conversion, if not nixed it altogether, since it tasted a touch starchy for my liking (still omnomnom pastry cream, as it always is, but school made me finicky about it, damn them!). All together though, it tasted absolutely delicious, with rich custard and crunchy crust supporting our favorite farmer’s market product. The only way it could have been more perfect is if I could have piled even more berries on top for generous servings.

fraise_bottlePossible Pairings

I might normally start off with Strawberry Wines and Liqueurs, but those are generally just so rich, dense, syrupy, fruit-forward, or otherwise overpowering for a dish which is actually very mellow, though fresh and bright, in flavors. If one had a strawberry Eau-de-Vie (distilled strawberries), on the other hand, that could work well; or any berry-based brandy. Then again, a young Apple Brandy (not Calvados, too barrel-y) could also serve quite well. Who doesn’t love apples and strawberries?

When I think berries nowadays, I think Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and I think we can find some super fun drinkables there for something like this. For wine there are Mosel Rieslings, super sharp but still sweet Spatlese and Auslese where the Botrytis hasn’t shown yet (have to pick carefully though). A super-chilled glass of crystalline Aquavit with its refreshing caraway aromas. Then again, following the apple logic as before, a good, bubbly glass of Cider could do wonders when enjoying on the deck.7817054786_d7273d24cd

p2: Damson Pie

The Sweet

timthumb“Quetcheflued,” the Luxembourg-ian term for a local dessert adored by those who visit this tiny country bordering the NE corner of France. At times it’s referred to as a Plum or Damson Plum Tart, an inaccurate statement for two reasons. Firstly, though certainly sharing a similar enough appearance, the Damson isn’t actually a plum, but a different variety of Stone Fruit (peaches, cherries, plum, etc) unto itself. It’s very well known for use in distilling, Slivovitz revels in the flavors it derives from the base fruit, and in making very flavorful jams and other desserts.

Secondly, I’m not quite sure if “tart” is the best word… at least as far as we’re concerned, one could argue it as a general term in Europe for many dishes with ingredients laid and cooked on top of a single dough base. But unlike many a tart base we’re used to; the buttery crunchy lemon and berry tarts, super flaky tarte tatin shortcrust, pates of brisee and sucree, or something wishing it could be pizza; the one consistently used recipe for these (as I’ve found in my research of the very limited recipes at my disposal) takes on a completely different aspect. Yeasted, but barely worked, with some sugar yet no eggs, our little stone fruits end up lying on a soft pillow of what can only be described an un-enriched (so the opposite of brioche) dessert bread.

I actually found quite some joy into trying out this dough; one of the things I’ve decided to do with these various desserts I plan on making, especially considering how many of them are some form or tart or pie, is to try out various different recipes and styles for tart crusts. So this one fell right into play with that. Mainly, this is due to the reason that, unlike most yeast-base dough, the dried little organisms aren’t bloomed in water but instead mixed with all the dry ingredients first. It still rose surprisingly well, and the end results spoke for itself.

Wish there was some other interesting facts that I could say about the intriguingly named dessert, but really that’s about it. Bread base, damson plums, Luxembourg, yeah… there are likely different versions of Damson or Plum Tarts in France that use different configurations, but recipe wise this just seems the most interesting (and ‘the article’ named it for the Luxembourg style so that’s where we’re going! Wooo!).

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

20140710_155940I really want to try a Damson, or at least some jam made from it… but since it’s yet another European product that’s almost impossible to find in anything but the most specialist shops in the US, that will have to wait. I do hear it’s sometimes available as “Italian Plums,” but chances are we’re going to have to use another product for our filling. Lucky for us, the best substitutes, as other experimenters have also found, are a simple combination of the oft-available Red and Black/Purple Plums, due to their mixed combo of tart, sweet, and ease of cooking. Don’t try using any of those Apricot-Plum and other hybrid fruit, apparently they develop some odd or bitter flavors after baking.

Oh, interestingly enough, quite a few recipes included warming up the flour in a microwave before adding in other ingredients. Which isn’t as odd as it seems, the warmth assisting with the yeast’s development and digestion, just so long as it’s not so hot as to kill it. For those trying, about 10-15 seconds of cooking should do it; it heats up fast!

A final note that, unlike other yeasted bread recipes I’ve come across, this one doesn’t seem to require being kneaded. One can if desired, but the ideal consistency actually comes from a thorough spoon-beating in the bowl. Enough mixing that lots of tough, sticky strands form, but we don’t need to search and pray that our little white lump will turn into that perfectly smooth, shiny ball of perfection they always preach on tv and recipes (seriously, make it look so easy…). Of course, it will turn out quite sticky and be very hard to work with unless using a VERY well floured surface (and hands), but we don’t need to be perfect. It is a rustic dish after all.

Quetcheflued
250g Flour
40g Sugar
Pinch Salt
½-1 packet (4.8-7g) Instant/Active Dry Yeast
125ml (Bit over ½ cup) Warmed Milk
1 Egg plus Extra for Wash
4-6 (Minimum, or as desired) Damsons or Substitute Red and Black Plums
Powdered Sugar

Directions

  1. Heat flour in microwave, 10-15 seconds, until somewhat warm.20140710_155422
  2. Mix in Sugar, Salt, and Yeast; make a well in center and add the Milk and Eggs.20140710_160506
  3. Stir hard and thoroughly with utensil until a somewhat smooth, sticky dough forms.20140710_160554
  4. Cover, leave to rest until about doubled in size, 40 minutes ish.20140710_170346
  5. While waiting, cut Plums into thin slices or small wedges (6-8 pieces each fruit depending on size and preference).
  6. Turn oven to 350F and thoroughly butter a pie pan.20140710_170402
  7. Punch down dough and very carefully uncover. Working with VERY well floured hands, utensils, and prep surface (if not moving directly to pan), remove as much dough as needed from bowl. Press into pan or roll on work surface to desired shape, size, and thickness (Note: does not have to be extremely thin. Though it will rise while baking it shall shrink back down once cool).20140710_171332
  8. Lightly brush top with Egg Wash and sprinkle with more sugar.
  9. Arrange plums on top as desired, making sure to get as thorough a covering as possible.20140710_174931
  10. Transfer to oven and back 25-30 minutes, until edge of the bread has turned golden brown.
  11. Slide tart onto cooling rack or other surface to bring to desired temperature.20140710_180329
  12. Generously sift top with Powdered Sugar.
  13. Slice and serve, perhaps with ice cream and plum sauce.

20140710_180509My Thoughts

As I was making this, and putting the plums on the clunky looking circle of dough in a not-so-pretty and symmetrical way, all I kept thinking to myself was “God I’m going to need to make another one this weekend so I can actually get decent pictures.” Especially considering how the bread looked rising around what seemed a highly meager amount of plum topping in the oven, but after a bit of cooling it fell and the shapes conformed to eachother. Low and behold, the little guy actually ended up surprisingly nice; good browning, decent rise, and the plums ended up not looking as bad as imagined, especially with the powdered sugar on top (don’t you love it when that sort of situation happens?). Obviously still not as good as others, next time I gotta learn to either lay them all on the side to fan out or tuck their corners underneath each other, but pretty enough to eat. And it still tasted good; the “bread” ended up like a barely sweet, softer focaccia, a great support for the mildly flavored cooked plums. Though I don’t have the experience to compare them to an actual damson, sticking with the basic red and black nonetheless yielded an acceptable dessert (and I turned the leftover dough and plums into a streudel! Yum!); especially with fruit sauce.

Possible Pairings

slivovitz1What better drink to consume with Damson (or other) plums than the traditional distilled spirit made from the fruit itself, Slivovitz? Or really any other Plum Brandy one can find (they go by many names). Of course it doesn’t have to be the same stone fruit; a chilled glass of any stone fruit liqueur, such as Apricot or Peach, would harmonize beautifully. In fact, the perfumed notes of roasted almonds and nuts in Amarretto complement the flesh of any stone fruit in a delicious fashion, especially when also bringing in the toasted aromas of the bread. Disaronno’s a great choice, as (for those unaware) it’s not actually made from almonds, but apricot pits, thus if one tasted it pure and as-is they can detect hints from both worlds, ripe fruity flesh and nougat-y marzipan.

stambroiseapricotGoing on this tangent of stone fruit more, I’ve found plenty of nicely sweet, yummy beers flavored with apricots and peaches; so far they haven’t been the “oh my god best refined and depth of quality” high priced beers that are amazing to contemplate over, but to drink alongside a bowl of simple bready plum tart-thingy and ice cream? Not too damn bad.

And I should finish with at least one wine suggestion. Currently I’m feeling a German Riesling, something of the Auslese, Beerenauslese, or Eiswein category (not the really cheap or heavy ones though). They can bring in a nice sweetness, still great acid for cutting through any creamy accompaniment, and the flavors of white peaches and similar stone fruit are common detected along their tasting notes. A bit of botrytis in the palette, too, could bring a fun wildness to the party, remind us of the fruit still growing on the trees, surrounded by earth, leaves and the floating yeasts in the air.

20100217-aquavitOh! And Acquavit! I’m suddenly craving a super cold tulip glass of the Caraway Seed flavored grain spirit! Delicious with plums.

p2: Tarte Tatin

msb_05_tarttatine_xlThe Sweet

The idea of making an Apple Tart in a caramelized, upside-down fashion isn’t new, featuring in various instances in Northern France recipes. Careme himself mentions “gâteaux renversés” in his 1841 “Patissier Royal Parisien,” glazed and using apples from Rouen. It’s said the actual dish and technique itself is named “Tarte Solognotte,” named after the Sologne region in which it became a specialty.

But its fame never stood out until the late, late 1800’s, when two sisters within that Sologne region opened up a hotel. They may not have officially invented it, but Stephanie and Caroline Tatin’s famous dessert brought the “Tarte Tatin” to the forefront of popularity, even though they never advertised nor released a recipe; the name itself was written by the famous French epicure and auther Curnonsky.

And their “happening” upon the dish is a funny story, depending on who you choose to believe, if anybody. For of course many claim an “accidental creation” by the sisters, and in more ways than one. There have been those who state one of the sisters accidentally put a regular tart in the oven upside-down. While others say that the apples for a pie filling started to burn one day, so they quickly covered in dough and moved to an oven to try and salvage. Whatever the story, and whether any of it is actually true, the fact remains that the sumptuously caramelized dessert vaulted to the forefront of epicurean popularity, especially after the owner of Maxim’s in Paris decided to place it on their menu.

And the rest is history. We now see the Tarte Tatin lauded in various blogs, randomly discussed in Pastry classes, used in classic and modern interpretations throughout wherever, featured in an episode of the Simpsons Ratatouille-Anton-Ego-remeniscent-even-though-the-damn-“flashback where he enjoyed “Tarte Tatin a-la-mode”-was-using-a-slice-of-regular-apple-pie-instead-of-proper-tarte-tatin-the-lazy-and-insulting-bastards… etc.

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

How I see it, there are two main ways to make one of these well. The first, and most easily controlled, method is to simply make a caramel in the saucepan, then arrange the apples (cooking a bit more if desired) on top and baking. The second is cooking the sugar, butter, and apples all together until it caramelizes completely. I personally prefer the latter, since it feels a bit more classic, plus I love the idea of all the flavors mingling and developing together at the same time. Though the first method is great for trying out OTHER kinds of tart tatins (pear, peach, mango, etc).

One main note; when cooking the mixture, which will boil quite vigorously (no need to worry, it settles down a lot once taken off the stove), one needs to make sure it’s at a nicely medium-high to high temperature. If it’s too low, the apples will soften to almost mush before it caramelizes (in fact the apple half I was gonna use as my “centerpiece,” which I had put in first, split in half just as I was about finished). Too high isn’t much of an issue though; other recipes say “too low is mush, and too high the apples won’t cook enough,” which is complete bull. I actually replaced my ruined center with two RAW quarters, and those were completely cooked after I took it out of the oven.

Though one should take care to keep the apples moving around when cooking it hot; as you’ll see a couple of mine started to get some burns. Though on the other hand I think that actually stayed stuck to the pan after flipping, leaving just the beautifully smooth and caramelly apple top.

ApplesAs for the apples themselves, the truly French classics are made using a couple varieties called “Reine des Reinettes” (King of the Pippins) and “Calville.” Good luck, if you can find them in the US then a miracle has taken place (and please tell me where and how you did it!). Otherwise, basic baking/pie apples work as a good substitution, such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Gala, and Jonathan; I went with Braeburn myself.

In the matter of dough, though quite a few recipes call for and some other pages say you “can use” Puff Pastry, in theoretics it should always be made by some kind of Shortcrust or other flaky Pie dough; if you wanted to stay traditional that is.

Tarte Tatin
5-6 Braeburn, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Gala or similar apples
4 oz (1 stick) Butter
1 cup Sugar
Tsp Salt
Basic Pie Dough (recipe follows)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.SAMSUNG
  2. In a wide-bottomed pan set to Medium-High, melt the Butter.SAMSUNG
  3. Once melted (or close to), sprinkle in your Sugar, stirring to incorporate until the grains dissolve somewhat.SAMSUNG
  4. While waiting for that to happen, quickly peel, quarter, and cut the cores out of your first 3-4 apples.SAMSUNG
  5. Toss them into the pan, turning to coat in the sugary fat.SAMSUNG
  6. As space opens up through cooking, peel and quarter the remaining apples (as needed) to fill the pan in as complete a single layer as possible.SAMSUNG
  7. Let cook for about 20 minutes, or until the bubbling sugar gets well caramelized. Stir every so often to ensure apples don’t burn and caramel is evenly distributed.SAMSUNG
  8. Remove, letting the caramel settle and arranging the apples, cut side up (so the uncut side will be up once flipped), in the pattern desired.SAMSUNG
  9. Prepare the Crust. Flour and roll out the dough in a large enough circle to cover the pan, trimming and cutting around a lid or similarly sized item.SAMSUNG
  10. Fold (or roll over pin, your preference) and move it over the apples to cover completely. Poke a few small holes around the dough to ensure venting.
  11. Place in oven, baking 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.SAMSUNG
  12. Remove, letting cool at least 10 minutes for the caramel to set somewhat.SAMSUNG
  13. Place serving plate or other pan over top, quickly and carefully flipping. Fix any apples that may have stuck, slice into wedges, and serve however desired (ice cream with cookies and meringue is good…).SAMSUNG

Basic Pie Dough
2 ½ cup Flour
Tsp Salt
8 oz (2 sticks) Butter, cold
¼-½ cup Iced Water

Directions

  1. Combine Flour and SaltSAMSUNG
  2. Chop the cold Butter into small pieces, adding them in. With your fingertips or in a food processor, start working the butter into the dough, pulsing or kneading it until the flour has a cornmeal-ish AND a good amount of pea-sized butter pieces.SAMSUNG
  3. Slowly drizzle in ¼ cup of Water, mixing it into the dough quickly until it comes together/pulls from the side, adding more water as necessary.SAMSUNG
  4. Divide in half, press into a flat round and wrap in plastic. Move into the fridge for at least an hour before use.SAMSUNG

My Thoughts

What is it about cooked apples and pie crust that makes us so damn insatiable, craving bite after bite until the whole damn baking dish is gone? I blame the butter, mainly in the crust but especially in the caramel for this old dessert. The whole thing was gone before the end of the night.

Really rich, sticky, toffee-like caramel, muSAMSUNGch of which was leftover in the cooking pan to spoon up and chow down as is (look at it hang off that spoon!). The apples were just so soft and sweet and yum, contrast this with the perfectly crispy crunchy crust and this just makes a craveable after-dinner treat. I was actually worried about the crust, too, since as you can see in the pics some caramel had sorta “soaked through” part of it during cooking, but even that was still crispy. Oh, and that was after the raw dough just sat on top of the wet caramel for like half an hour or more (we were supposed to be at a certain point in dinner prep, but certain people were just sloooowwww and didn’t inform me until AFTER getting the pie dough on); so suffice it to say it’s a pretty durable recipe.

End of the day, I liked it and really wanna make it again, maybe with some different fruit.

23Possible Pairings

Deep, richly flavored caramelized apples? Sounds like a job for Calvados to me, the signature apple brandy of Northern France. If you can find an amazingly old, smoothly aged XO or similar quality bottle, that would make for quite the divine experience.

Though a deliciously syrupy glass of dessert wine wouldn’t be too bad either. Despite the regional closeness though, I don’t think any of the Loire dessert wines would work so well, at least not with THIS version of Tarte Tatin. They’re usually of the lighter, medium sweet variety, great with cheeses and lighter desserts. So unless one found a REALLY old, concentrated Quarts de Chaume (like a grand cru of the dessert region) or have a tarte tatin that’s not so deep with caramel, then I say go with another region.

Good quality, deeply colored old Saut24ernes; Selection des Grains Nobles from Alsace; Tokaji Aszu from Hungary, preferably of the higher puttonyo range; the Brown Stickies (Muscats, Tawnies, whatever they call them) from Australia, and, oh, a PX (pedro ximenez) from Sherry. All rich, syrupy, delectably sticky drinks influenced by botrytis, barrel ageing, oxidation, or a combination of all three. There are so many more similar fortified and dessert wines which jump up (god I want a Marsala right now), but this is a good starter list.

Truthfully, those are all probably TOO sweet and heavy for the actual dish, but I just can’t help but craaavveeee them whenever I think of this caramelly caramelly pie. Guess I’ve got a sweet tooth.

Actually, thinking about what would make a more “proper” and technical pairing, a dry Oloroso Sherry. It has those deep and complex flavors, matching oxidized caramelization, and I think the salty levels would juxtapose the sweetness in a fun way. Or maybe an Amontillado, which would still have some yeasty characters, which would pair nicely with the pie crust.25

Huh, a little more chatter with my dessert pairings than I usually try for. Oh well, pie and super-sweet wines gets me excited. Don’t forget to look into beers as well!