Sticky balsamic glazed tomatoes are a stunning replacement to the traditional apples in a tarte tatin.
Tarte tatin is a traditional French dessert, an upside down pastry usually made with apples caramelised in butter and sugar. It’s actually very simple to make (though, like sushi, probably one of those things that could take a lifetime to perfect).
I’ve made the apple version dozens of times, and often thought about doing it with something else. Tomatoes work perfectly. Balsamic and fresh thyme are a natural match and really make the tomatoes sing. This dish is all about the tomatoes, so it’s well worth buying some extra lovely, perfectly ripe ones – or making this when your own tomatoes are ripe for picking from the vegetable garden.
I begin with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar which are bubbled together to become a little thicker and stickier. Then tomatoes are added to the pan, cut side down. Lots of fresh thyme, salt and pepper go in. A round of flaky pastry goes on top, a few pricks and it’s into the oven for 12 minutes.
Once it’s a deep golden brown (you *do not* want soggy pastry here), it gets inverted onto a plate or board to serve. That’s actually the only scary part and requires a bit of a leap of faith! One of those ‘close your eyes and just go for it’ sort of moments.
My best advice is to make sure you’re using a decent non stick frypan (that can go in the oven too), and don’t muck around once it’s out of the oven, because if it sits for even a few minutes too long it could glue itself to the inside of the frypan. Burning hot tomato juice running down your arm is something you really want to avoid. The tarte pictured below was pretty well perfectly cooked. Don’t worry about the dark edges, they’re not burned – it’s just caramelised balsamic vinegar (delicious, delicious, caramelised balsamic vinegar!). Trust me.
It’s far too soon to call it, but I’m seriously considering including this tarte on my Christmas day menu. It’s somehow both rustic and quite elegant, simple, and will pair well with lots of other things.
I let the tarte cool to room temperature to serve, as it helps everything firm up a little and slice easily without the tomatoes sliding off the pastry. The tarte is best cut into 4-6 slices. One slice is lovely as a side dish as part of a bigger meal, though I could happily eat more!
- 1 sheet flaky pastry of your choice thawed, I used dairy free
- 8-9 small vine tomatoes halved and stem/core removed
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
- Large handful fresh thyme sprigs
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 220C fanbake.
- Cut corners from your sheet of pastry to make it roughly round in shape (it really doesn't need to be perfect).
- Add balsamic and brown sugar to a cold non-stick frypan. Heat until the mixture is bubbling and let it reduce for a few minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, cut side down. Fit in as many as you can, as they'll shrink a little while cooking. Scatter lots of fresh thyme leaves over the tomatoes, and season with a good grind of salt and black pepper.
- Cover the tomatoes with the pastry round, tucking it in around the edges if possible. Use a knife to make a few pricks in the pastry to allow steam out.
- Put the pan in the oven and cook for 12 minutes, or until a deep golden brown.
- Remove from the oven. Put a dinner plate or chopping board over the frypan, then with one hand on the plate/board and the other holding the frypan, flip it all over in one fast and confident movement. Give the pan a little jiggle to ensure the tomatoes have released from the bottom, and remove the pan.
- You should have a lovely glistening tarte tatin ready to eat. If any tomatoes have stuck or moved about, just use a spoon to ease them back into position.
- Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes, garnish with more fresh thyme sprigs and serve.