2000s Recipes + Menus

Eggplant Tarte Tatin with Black Pepper Caramel

Serves8 (dessert)
  • Active time:20 min
  • Start to finish:1 1/2 hr
August 2009
Eggplant and dessert don’t exactly go hand in hand. Yet in the depths of its soul, eggplant is a fruit that cooks up like an apple or a pear. So why not turn it into a classic French tarte Tatin? It’s a sexy dessert that puts the night back into nightshade. (Editors’ note: This recipe is solely the creation of Melissa Roberts and has not been formally tested by the test kitchen.)

Watch the Test Kitchen Challenge video that features this recipe.
  • 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
  • 1 1/2 lb (5- to 6-inch long) bambino (also called Baby Bell) eggplants (about 4), peeled, halved crosswise, and then quartered lengthwise
  • Accompaniment:

    vanilla ice cream
  • Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.
  • 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.
  • Spread butter thickly on bottom and sides of a 12-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 20 minutes (caramel may not color evenly).
  • Place skillet in oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and lay pastry round over eggplant inside skillet. Bake until pastry is browned and puffed, about 25 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rack and cool 5 to 10 minutes.
  • 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.
Cooks’ note:
  • Tart can be made 3 hours ahead and kept in skillet, uncovered. Heat over medium-low for a few minutes to loosen caramel, then shake skillet gently to loosen tart before inverting.
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