Father’s Day: tarte tatin and éclairs redux

With frozen éclair shells still quite fresh in the freezer, what better to do than give them a little warmth and crisping for Father’s Day? My first adventure (last week) wasn’t bad, but I stuffed up the glaze a bit. This time round, all went wonderfully and lo! éclairs filled with mandarin whipped cream (lightly sweetened) and topped with a smooth, easy chocolate glaze.

A little fearful of the egginess of these shells (a very eggy choux pastry recipe), I made a backup dish as well. Now, when I say backup, what I really mean is to-be-eaten-sequentially, cos no backup dish ever gets left standing in my family. Éclairs well digested (or at least ingested), it was time to whip a tarte tatin out of the oven!

My first full-sized tarte tatin (I’ve made individual ones before which were ok, but not perfect). For those unfamiliar with it, tarte tatin is a simple upside-down apple tart, for want of a better definition. You line a tin with apple pieces, sugar and butter. This is covered with a shortcrust pastry (or in some recipes, puff pastry), and baked until the apples have softened and the sugar has become a delicious caramel, seemingly absorbed into the apple and the pastry.

Using the simplest method, described above, many people find they have too much liquid or thin caramel in the pan as the apples soften. To avoid this, many recipes make the caramel in advance, sauté the apple in advance, and then combine everything for the final spell in the oven… but that somewhat spoils the simplicity of this dish. If you cook in a hot oven, make sure there’s a small vent cut in the pastry, and if possible use a heavy pan, the tarte should come out beautifully after 30-45 mins. I took mine out of the oven after 35 mins and it could have done with perhaps another 10 mins just to reduce the caramel a teency bit more. But it was delicious just as it was!