Aida Mollenkamp's Caramelized Fennel Tarte Tatin

Aida Mollenkamp's Caramelized Fennel Tarte Tatin


  • 4 heads fennel with fronds (2 1/4 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons anise-flavored liqueur (such as Pernod)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/ 3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 sheet store-bought frozen puff pastry (from a 17 1/4-ounce package), thawed according to package directions.

Yield: 8 - 12 servings
Total Time: 1 hr
Active Time: 35 mins A savory, earthy sweet take on the classic upside-down apple tart, this fennel tart is a great start to a meal or a main course when served with a salad. At the Store: There are various anise-flavored liqueurs and any of them, including Pernod, Ricard, Herbsaint, or ouzo, will work well. If you can’t find it, you can use dry vermouth or sweet white wine, such as Riesling.

Recipe Landmine: The caramel can crystallize while cooking. To avoid this: make sure all the utensils are clean; don’t stir the caramel once the sugar dissolves (just swirl the pan to help it cook evenly; and, for extra insurance, you can brush the inside of the pan with a brush dipped in water.

1. Roughly chop a handful of fennel fronds, cover, and store in refrigerator.

2. Discard the remaining fronds or save for another use.

3. Halve the fennel lengthwise.

4. Place the halves on a board, cut-side down, and slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices.

5. Combine fennel, Pernod, juice, garlic, and zest in a large nonreactive bowl, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine; set aside.

6. Heat oven to 425F (220C/gas mark 7) and arrange rack in the middle.

7. Stir together the sugar and water in a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat.

8. Cook, undisturbed, until the mixture turns amber in color, about 5 minutes.

9. Immediately add the butter and swirl pan to incorporate.

10. Drain the fennel slices.

11. Arrange them snugly atop the caramel, pack them tightly (fennel may stick up above the rim of the frying pan), and decrease the heat to medium.

12. Using tongs, rotate the fennel from bottom to top and cook, stirring every 5 minutes, until the fennel is knife-tender and golden throughout, and juices are deep golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

13. Increase the heat to high, stir in the parsley, and cook until caramel has reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes more.

14. With a floured rolling pin, roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a floured work surface.

15. Brush off any excess flour, transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.

17. When fennel is ready, drape the pastry round over the top of the frying pan and tuck the edges into the pan around filling.

18. Bake the tart until the juices are deep brown and bubbly and the top of the pastry is browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

19. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool at least 5 minutes.

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