President Josiah Bartlet, apart from being a charismatic and noble leader of these United States, had a real thing for food. Be it the Butterball turkey hotline or pumpkin soup with cheese gnocchi, the man knew both good policy and food. If only he weren't a figment of Aaron Sorkin's imagination, much like this interpretation of Alain Passard's dessert tomato.
1 tablespoon butter
1 honeycrisp apple, peeled, cored, and minced
1 Bartlett pear, peeled, cored, and minced
1/2 cup pineapple, minced
1/4 cup roasted pistachios, finely chopped
1/4 cup halved walnuts, toasted, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one orange
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 star anise pod
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
4 campari tomatoes, cored and seeded, tops reserved with stems attached
4 slices of orange peel
Pinch of large sea salt flakes
Makes 4 servings
Melt butter over medium heat in a sauté pan until foaming. Combine apple, pear, pineapple, pistachios, walnuts, lemon zest, orange zest, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl - mix well to combine. Add to butter and sauté for 5 minutes.
In a saucepan, heat butter and heavy cream until steaming. In a large pot, heat 1 cup sugar over medium heat until completely melted and amber in color. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture, mixing vigorously until completely incorporated.
Place tomatoes in a small sauté pan, leaning against each other to stay upright. Fill with fruit and nut mixture, top with tomato tops, and fill pan with creme de caramel until it comes halfway up the sides of the tomatoes. Add orange peels to caramel, and heat over lowest-possible heat, so caramel just steams and occasionally bubbles. Baste tomatoes with caramel every few minutes for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until very tender but not falling apart. Serve in a pool of caramel, top with julienned candied orange peel and sea salt, along with ice cream if desired.