Tarte Tatin
This famous upside-down apple tart starts with caramelized apples, studded with almonds and bits of chewy apricots, and topped with a flaky, buttery crust. Inverted, this dessert makes an impressive—and mouthwatering—presentation.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Pâte Brisée
1 c. flour
6 tbsp. very cold unsalted butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. ice water

1/3 c. sugar
3 tbsp. water
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 lb. Golden Delicious apples
1/2 c. sliced dried apricots
1/4 c. slivered almonds or pine nuts
1/2 c. water

2 tbsp. sugar

Garnish (optional)
1 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. rum
1 tbsp. confectioners' sugar

For the pâte brisée:
Put flour in a food processor. Cut butter into 1/4" slices and add to flour. Add salt and sugar, and process 5-8 seconds. Butter should still be visible in the dough. Add the water and process 5-10 seconds, just until the dough starts gathering. Turn it out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Form it into a loose mass.

Cover the dough with another piece of plastic wrap and roll the dough out to form a circle 11" in diameter. Lift the enclosed dough round onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the apple filling.

For the filling:
Cook the sugar with 3 tbsp. water in a nonstick ovenproof 12" skillet over high heat until it caramelizes (3-4 minutes). Remove the skillet from the heat, and set aside. The caramel will harden. Remove the apple cores. Split the apples and cut into quarters.

Arrange apple quarters on top of the caramel skin side down in one layer. You will use 20-24 pieces. Sprinkle on the apricots and nuts, and dot with butter. Slice remaining apples thin (4-1/2 to 5 cups), and arrange in the skillet to fill empty spaces. Add 1/2 c. water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and boil gently for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook over med. heat for 7-8 minutes, until there is no visible liquid.

Preheat oven to 400°. Remove dough round from the refrigerator, and place on a large cutting board. Peel off plastic wrap. Trim the edge to make the dough round, then fold the edge in on itself to form a border.

Lift the dough carefully, and arrange on top of the apples in the skillet. Press it down gently, and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. sugar. Bake for 45 minutes. Incline the pan. If any visible juices remain, cook over med. heat on the stove for 3-4 minutes. The tart can be cooked a few hours ahead.

Before serving, heat skillet for a few minutes, shaking it to release the apples. Place a round platter upside down over the skillet and invert the contents of the pan onto it, so the crust is now on the bottom.

To prepare the garnish:
Beat the heavy cream with the rum and sugar until firm but not stiff.

To serve:
Cut into wedges and serve with flavored whipped cream.

Recipe courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf, ©2001 Jacques Pépin