Spiced pumpkin tarte tatin

Photographer: Kate
Serves 6

Rosie McLean is a final year student studying for a Bachelor of Culinary Arts at Otago Polytechnic. Rosie has her own blog where she indulges us in her weakness for all things sweet. As a special Halloween treat, Rosie popped in and cooked this amazing dish. I must admit that I personally ate four of the six servings….how very selfish of me. Check out Rosie’s blog www.aspaceforpudding.com and definitely give this dessert a try – I gave it a big double thumbs up! Thanks Rosie!

Tarte tatin is one of my favourite desserts; I think the fact that it started out as a would-be disastrous mistake resonates with me, prone to making the odd horrendous kitchen misstep as I am. This version is an unorthodox departure from the classic apple filling, made with spiced pumpkin and sweet potato, which goes very well with the rich and unctuous caramel sauce and flaky, buttery pastry that form the basis of the dessert. It is topped with fluffy toasted marshmallow meringue.

I made this recipe in celebration of Halloween, which is slightly dubious given that here in New Zealand it is spring, the pumpkins are definitely not flourishing in the fields and the sun currently goes down at about 10 o’clock at night, but we have never let that stop us from celebrating anything else northern-hemisphere style.

As we discovered when we made the tarte to photograph and then ate it all afterwards, it is just as good served cold as it is hot, so it actually is a pretty versatile dessert for both seasons (as if desserts needed to be versatile!).



Tarte Tatin
300g (10.5oz) Orange or Beauregarde sweet potato, peeled
300g (10.5oz) Pumpkin, peeled
2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp Cardamom, ground
1/2 tsp Ginger, ground
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, ground (or about half a nut, grated)
150g (5.3 oz) Caster sugar
100g (3.5 oz) Butter
1 Tbsp Cream
1 Sheet Butter puff pastry
1 Egg for washing

Marshmallow topping
2 Egg whites
120g (4.2 oz) Caster sugar
120ml (4.2 fl oz) Water
1 tsp Vanilla
Pinch Tartaric acid OR squirt lemon juice


Tarte Tatin
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C on bake.
2. Cut the sweet potato into chunks around 3cm cubed. Cut the pumpkin into smaller chunks, more like 2cm but in thinner slices, because it takes longer to cook.
3. Put half the measure of butter into a large saucepan and sweat the pumpkin in it, over a low heat, until it has become slightly tender.
4. Add the sweet potato and let it cook a little in the butter as well. It does not need to get tender because it will cook fast in the oven later.
5. Add the spices to the pot and get the vegetables well coated in a mixture of butter and spice.
6. Put the sugar in the skillet or stove/ovenproof dish you will be cooking the tarte tatin in.
7. Pour water over the sugar until it is just covered.
8. Start boiling the sugar and water mixture, without stirring it. Stirring causes the sugar to crystallise.
9. The sugar will start to go brown in the centre, where the heat is most concentrated. Gently swish the pan or dish around to get the sugar turning evenly to caramel.
10. Once the sugar has gone quite evenly brown, take the skillet or dish off the heat and add the remaining butter in small lumps, stirring it in with a wooden spoon.
11. Add the cream once the butter is evenly mixed through the caramel and stir it in as well.
12. Pour the spiced vegetables over the caramel and prod them around until they are evenly and reasonably neatly arranged.
13. Cut out the pastry to fit neatly over the top of the vegetables and tuck it in around the edges like a blanket.
14. Wash the top of the pastry with an egg and put the tarte into the oven to cook until the pastry has puffed up and gone a dark brown colour.
15. While the tarte is cooking, make your marshmallow topping.
16. Once the tarte is cooked, take it out of the oven, place a plate on top of it and hold it tightly to it while flipping it over to serve. Be careful of the hot caramel!

Marshmallow Topping
1. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and boil it over a high heat.
2. Put the egg whites in stand mixer bowl with the pinch of tartaric acid or squirt of lemon juice.
3. Once the sugar syrup reaches about 116°C, turn on the stand mixer and whip the egg whites to soft peaks.
4. When the sugar syrup gets to 121°C, take it off the heat, turn on the stand mixer to a low speed, and pour in the hot syrup in a slow steady stream.
5. Once all the syrup is in the mixer bowl, turn the speed up high and let the meringue whip until the bowl feels cool to the touch.
6. Add the vanilla and whip it into the meringue.
7. Serve the meringue on top of the tarte tatin, toasted with a blowtorch or flashed under the oven grill.