Sweet, Savory & Strange: Eggplant Tarte Tatin w/ Black Pepper Caramel
The Tuesday Tart is back!
How could I NOT make this recipe? I love eggplant and puff pastry, so it was a done deal.
This is a bit weird, I have to admit, especially with the black pepper caramel sauce, but I haven't steered you wrong yet.
I served it as a first course with a salad, not as a dessert with ice cream, as the recipe suggests. I am just not ready for eggplant w/ ice cream, but it's your choice.
When you caramelize the eggplants in the butter sugar mixture, they become sweet and gooey, like apples, hence the name "tarte tatin".
Some of the eggplants stuck to the bottom of the pan, as is common when making a tatin, but don't stress, just place them back on top of the puff and let it sit a few minutes, it will firm up and be perfect.
Loved this strange recipe.
A few tips:
I decreased the oven temp to 400F and the cooking times to 15 minutes on the stove, and 15 minutes in the oven for baking and for puffing up the pastry. My caramel was burning too fast.
I also did not use the bambino eggplant as the recipe suggests, but a regular, small size Italian eggplant. It was all good.
I also used a cast iron skillet, which is just too heavy to flip, so I think next time I might try a commercial non-stick pan and see what happens.
This was worth the effort.
Eggplant Tarte Tatin (adapted from Gourmet):
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 14-oz package), thawed
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 baby bell little eggplants (about 6" long), or 1 medium size Italian eggplant, peeled
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle (I turned the temp down to 400F).
Roll out pastry sheet into a 12-inch square on a floured work surface with a rolling pin. Brush off excess flour. Cut out a 10-inch round with a sharp knife, using a plate as a guide. Transfer pastry round to a baking sheet and chill.
Peel and slice your eggplant. Cut eggplant in half, then into thick pieces.
Spread butter thickly on bottom and sides of a 10-inch heavy skillet. Sprinkle sugar, salt, and pepper evenly over bottom. Arrange as many pieces of eggplant as will fit vertically in skillet, packing them tightly in concentric circles.
Cook eggplant over medium heat, undisturbed, until sugar melts and caramel is deep golden, about 15-20 minutes (caramel may not color evenly).
Place skillet in oven and bake 15-20 minutes (you will add the pastry later and bake again).
Remove from oven and lay pastry round over eggplant inside skillet. Bake until pastry is browned and puffed, about 20 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rack and cool 5 to 10 minutes.
Here's the tricky part.
Invert a plate over skillet and invert tart onto plate. Replace any pieces of eggplant that stick to skillet and brush any excess caramel from skillet over eggplant.