Natasha Pickowicz Apple and Miso Tart Tatin
Natasha Pickowicz Apple and Miso Tart Tatin
Is there anything more classically wintry and cozy than a tarte tatin, decked with orbs of glowing apples as pretty as a string of ornaments? Like so many classic desserts, it's all about technique — getting a handful of simple steps correct so that the end result is dazzling and delicious. Crisp, firm apples — look for honeycrisp or snapdragons — are peeled, cored, and quartered, before a long simmer in a pan of bubbling caramel. For added depth and brightness, we've added a spoonful of white miso paste (for sneaky umami savoriness), pure vanilla extract (for cozy warmth), and a glug of your favorite winter spirit (we love pairing Italian amaros with strong, buttery caramels). Once the apples are cooked through and translucent, it gets a snug lid of puff pastry, then a long roast in the oven. It's a showstopping dessert — and a fitting alternative to American-style fruit, custard, or nut pies, which you may want a break from this holiday season — and even better with a massive dollop of creme fraiche, vanilla ice cream, or plain whipped cream.
- 6-8 medium-sized, firm apples (like Honeycrisp or Snapdragon)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Amaro (optional; brandy, apple cider vinegar, sherry would work as well)
- 1 pound puff pastry, frozen
- flaky sea salt, to finish
- ice cream or creme fraiche, for serving
- Peel the apples and slice in half lengthwise. Slice each half in half lengthwise again, so you have quarters, and then carefully slice out the core of the apples at a slight bias. Cut each quarter in half lengthwise, so you have 8 pieces of apple total. Repeat with all the apples, and set them aside in a mixing bowl while you prepare the caramel sauce.
- Add the granulated sugar to a dry D3 Stainless Steel 4 Qt. Weeknight Pan. Over medium-high heat, melt the sugar out, tilting the pan occasionally to melt the sugar evenly. (No need to use a spoon or spatula, which would encourage crystallization). After about 5-6 minutes, the sugar should be mostly melted and caramelized—about the color of pale amber.
- Add the butter (stand back in case the sugar sputters and spits) and tilt and swirl the pan as the butter melts into the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the vanilla extract, miso paste, and Amaro. Use a wooden spoon to stir to emulsify the mixture; it should be a smooth, thick caramel sauce (and not broken or greasy looking). If the caramel looks broken, you can use a whisk to vigorously bring the mixture into a thick, opaque sauce.
- Add the apples into the pan, spreading them out into a single layer, so they are immersed in the caramel. After five minutes, flip them over with tongs or a spatula so the other side of the apples are coated in the caramel. As the apples begin to cook through, they will release their juices and the caramel will thin into a runny, glossy, deeply amber liquid. Maintain a strong simmer and continue to poach the apples in the caramel syrup until they are beginning to look transculent around the edges and are tender to the touch. Rotate the pieces occasionally so they cook evenly. After about 25-30 minutes, the apples should be tender and glossy and the caramel will reduce significantly.
- Remove the weeknight pan from the heat and allow the fruit to cool for 1 hour before adding the puff pastry lid.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F. Use the lid of the weeknight pan to trace a circle of puff pastry, then use the All-Clad Forged 3.5" Paring Knife to cut a series of small one-inch darts in the puff pastry, which will allow the steam from the apples to escape. Transfer this chilled puff pastry round to the pan, covering the apples. Tuck the edges of the puff pastry around the apples, so it fits snugly, like a tight hat.
- Transfer the weeknight pan to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until the caramel is bubbling around the edges of the pan and the puff pastry is deeply browned and crisp looking. Let the pan rest for 20 minutes before inverting; to invert, cover the pan with a large platter, and then swiftly turn the pan over, releasing the tart onto the platter. While the tart is still hot, you can rearrange the apple slices into a pattern that pleases you, before the caramel sets.
- Let cool 10 minutes before eating; add a big pinch of flaky sea salt and serve with creme fraiche or ice cream, if desired. Slice into 6 to 8 pie-shaped pieces, using a big knife like the All-Clad Forged 7" Santoku Knife and a swift cleaving motion.
Making your own puff pastry is a worthwhile task, but sometimes store bought really is fine. Look for all-butter puff pastry brands (like Dufour), which come in a 14oz box. If the puff pastry sheet is slightly smaller than your weeknight pan lid, you can roll it out a little thinner with a rolling pin dusted in flour, or you can trim the rectangular sheet and use the scraps to pinch into place to make a patchworked circle. Don't go too thin with the puff pastry; it has to be thick enough to support the soft fruit and dripping caramel sauce.
For fruit substitutions, try pears, peeled and cored, a firm-yet-juicy variety, like Bosc or Bartlett. In the summer, stone fruit like yellow peaches and nectarines are a delicious complement to burnt sugar and white miso.
Pro tip: Sometimes the bottom of the tarte tatin, once inverted, can get soggy from exposure to the fruit caramel juices. To keep it crispy, invert the tart tatin onto a platter, then slide the tart onto a drying rack until ready to serve, thus keeping air circulating underneath and the delicate puff pastry crisp and dry.
Chef Natasha Pickowicz
Natasha Pickowicz is a New York City–based chef and writer. She is a three-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist. Much of her pastry work explores the relationship between baking and social justice, including ongoing collaborations with seminal New York City institutions like Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, God’s Love We Deliver, the Brigid Alliance, and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, for whom she produced a massive city-wide bake sale, raising more than $150,000 between 2017 and 2019. Currently, Pickowicz runs the pastry pop-up called Never Ending Taste, which has been held at NYC’s Superiority Burger, Brooklyn’s the Four Horsemen, the American-Vietnamese bakery Ba. n B., the Taiwanese tearoom T. Company, Los Angeles’s Kismet, and the legendary Chino Farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Pickowicz’s recipes and writing have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bon App.tit, Saveur, Food & Wine, New York magazine, Cherry Bombe, and many other publications. Follow her on Instagram at @natashapickowicz.