Baking Pineapple, Vanilla & Star Anise Tarte Tatin with Nina…
For the most part I try not to put too much stock in first impressions. In my experience they are just about never spot on.
Not so with Nina. As I walked into her kitchen this afternoon to bake with her for her RSG slot this week, one thing struck me above all the excitement and nerves, this feels like home. Yes of course not my home, but a home. Nina’s warm hello hug put me right at ease and we soon fell into easy conversation. She confirmed everything I’d come to know of her through her blog. Warm, open, caring, down to earth. Her family is one of her biggest passions and believe me, it shows. She pours love into them and the food she cooks for them. I left her home inspired and challenged to do the same.
Food really is about love and passion and not about what you can get out of it.
This pineapple and star anise tarte tatin is all about that for me. The recipe comes from A, (my boss) who has shown me what a passion and love for food looks like. It was one of the first flavour combinations we spoke of just after I started working with her and it’s one that’s hard to forget.
What I love about this recipe is that it is so easy to make. But it also looks (and tastes) impressive. What more could you ask for?
Pineapple, Vanilla & Star Anise Tarte Tatin: (Makes about 12 small individuals)
- 200 g white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 star anise
- 1 vanilla pod, split and seeded
- 2 tbsp. softened butter
- 1 medium-sized pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
- 1 sheet of puff pastry (about 400g)
- 2 tbsp. melted butter (for brushing)
- icing sugar (for dusting)
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Place 12 x small individual molds/ramekins onto a baking tray. (I find small tart foils work well)
Cut rounds out of the puff pastry with a round cookie cutter (big enough to fit your ramekins) and set them aside.
Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the star anise, vanilla pod and vanilla seeds and allow to cook over med-high heat (don’t stir!) until the syrup begins to turn a light golden amber colour. When you think it’s nearly at the colour you want, remove it from the stove (The syrup will continue to cook once removed from the heat so you want to do it early so it won’t cook too much and turn bitter, see the pic up there? too dark! Too bitter. For me anyway), remove the star anise and vanilla pod and quickly but carefully pour enough into each ramekin to just cover the bottom.
Place a blob (1/2 tsp.) of butter into each ramekin. Arrange the pineapple slices over the butter and caramel so that they completely cover the bottom of the ramekin.
Place a round of puff pastry on top of each and brush the rounds with melted butter. Dust a bit of icing sugar over the tops. (The butter and icing sugar ensure that the tops crisp up nicely for a nice crisp base in the final dessert.)
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden brown and the caramel bubbles up around the sides of the pastry.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before unmolding.
Serve with some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of cream.