This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure.

When a girl gets a huge box of endive, after she shares some of the loot with her neighbors and makes endive salad a couple times, what’s she to do with it all?  If your mind went to dessert, you are truly in good company.

Belgian endive in a dessert?, some of you might be asking (and you make a very valid point…I guess it’s about as weird as salad for dessert, lol).  If you’ve had it, you know that Belgian endive is quite bitter.  But yes, I had my mind and heart set on making it into dessert. 

Mike (albeit unknowingly ;) ) came to the rescue.  A couple weeks ago he surprised me with three new cookbooks that he said he thought I’d enjoy.  I was looking through Anne Willan’s The Country Cooking of France when I came across a recipe for a savory endive tarte tatin.  The idea had a few kinks in it (mostly since I wanted to make dessert, not a savory dish), but it was brilliant and provided just the inspiration I was looking for. 

Luckily, a long braising process helps to mellow endive’s bitterness (especially when the braising liquid is caramel).  In addition to quite a bit of sugar, I balanced the endive’s bitterness with salty (from salted butter) and sour (from lemon juice) flavors.  Even with two cups of sugar the end result still had a hint of bitterness; it wasn’t overwhelming though, and I was happy that the endive flavor wasn’t completely lost.  

I think a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of the extra caramel sauce on top makes the perfect foil, but freshly whipped cream or crème fraîche would be fantastic as well. 

Belgian Endive Tarte Tatin (Inspired by Ann Willian’s recipe for Tarte Tatin aux Endives in The Country Cooking of France, published by Chronicle Books LLC) 

Yields 1 (10-inch) tarte 

8 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for the pan

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 1/2 lbs (about 6 heads) Belgian endive, ends trimmed and halved*

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 sheet (about 1/2 lb) puff pastry, thawed if frozen and corners trimmed off

1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for eggwash) 

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat; add the butter and once melted, add the sugar and the vanilla.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and turns amber in color (see my post on making homemade caramel for more explanation).  

Lay the endive halves in the caramel cut side down, tightly packing so they all fit in the pan; sprinkle on the lemon juice.  Bake (covered) 20 minutes, then flip each endive over and bake (uncovered) another 20 minutes, or until the endive is very tender.  

Turn oven up to 400F and butter a 9-inch ovenproof skillet.  Decoratively arrange the endive in the bottom of the buttered skillet.  Boil the caramel sauce for a few minutes until it’s reduced to about the thickness of cough syrup (the endive will have given off quite a bit of water); taste and add additional sugar as desired, heating and stirring to fully dissolve any added sugar.  Add 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce (reserving the extra sauce to serve with the tarte) to the pan with the endive, then place the trimmed puff pastry on top and tuck in any edges with a paring knife.  Lightly brush the puff pastry with eggwash and cut 4 slits in the pastry so steam can vent. 

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool about 10 minutes before inverting the tarte onto a plate and serving.  Serve with the reserved caramel sauce to drizzle on top, along with a dollop of whipped crème fraîche, whipped cream, or vanilla bean ice cream. 

*I used Belgian endive that was grown in California that I received from Discover Endivethanks, Discover Endive!

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. This is so unique, I love it! What a fabulous combination of dishes. I can’t wait to try this one out in my kitchen.

  2. Absolutely fantastic! I will have to give this a try…lovely and delicious idea :)

  3. stunning. it would never have occurred to me in one million years to make a tarte tatin with endive. lovely work!

  4. I have never used Belgian endive in a sweet-based recipe—ingenious! sometimes they can be very bitter, sometimes just a nice touch—Claudia is correct–light is their enemy.

  5. Glad you got this book because I really respect Anne Willan’s culinary repertoire. The one thing that was a disappointment was the major lack of photos…sigh.

    Faith, I’ve actually tried making this recipe and the endives in my case were not bitter. I guess I got lucky when the grocer arrived with his fresh box of endives under the blue paper. Light is really the enemy for endives. Oh, and I also substituted some of the sugar with a little maple syrup ;o)

    Thanks for sharing this experience.
    Now, I’m waiting for my Hubby to surprise me with culinary books…hmmm. How, very lucky are you ;o)

    Have a great week,

  6. Wow…this is such a beautiful creation. I would have never though to use endive this way, but I’m drooling over the finished product. Such pretty pictures to end my day with. Hugs and love from ATX!

  7. I love endive so much but I’ve NEVER tried it sweet before! Absolutely brilliant, dear Faith. :-) Your creativity never ceases to amaze and delight me. :-)

  8. So interesting using endive as dessert…like the idea and the creativity here…beautiful pictures as always Faith.
    Hope you have a fabulous week ahead :)

  9. I am totally blown away by this. I LOVE unexpected ingredients in desserts, and this takes the cake- er, tart. I never cook with endive in the first place, so maybe the best way to introduce it into my diet is in dessert! ;) So, so brilliant, my dear.

  10. In Greece we use many vegetables to make a kind of preserve but using the vegetable whole, for example we make sweet eggplant or tomato or mushrooms. So, this is definitely not surprising to me and I am sure it was really good!

  11. Wish I stayed near you, Faith for an occasional share in such loots ;-) Love the recipe, have to try it…

  12. Faith, this is a brilliant idea using it in a dessert! I’ve had it served savoury but braised in orange juice which reduced down to a caramel so I can definitely see how this could be made into a dessert! :D

  13. i love this idea! I’m a fan of endive, but I’ve definitely only had it in salad!

  14. Faith, this is so lovely. I adore the unexpected and this fits the bill. An audacious recipe to be sure.

  15. One of the best vegetable dishes I’ve enjoyed in a restaurant in a long while was a plate of grilled Belgian Endives with sugar that had caramelized in the process. The mellowed flavor of the vegetable paired with the sweetness was fabulous. I know I would enjoy this unique treat. :)

  16. I’ve never tried endive but I love this idea – I’m always up for making vegetables into delicious desserts!

  17. How interesting! This reminds me of your parsnip cake, another new one on me. With that one, I could imagine the yummy taste but I need to try some endive so I can imagine this one. I just love imagining flavors when I read recipes like this! Very cool twist on a dessert, Faith!

  18. How totally unique is this! I never would have thought to use it in a dessert. The outcome is gorg

  19. I love when you turn a dish on its ear, so to speak. Never think of endive as dessert but love it slowly braised. There is something about the bitterness that appeals to me when served with rich dishes (like a pheasant I did a few weeks ago). It is a classic combination. But dessert and sugar??? That is truly thinking outside the box.

  20. I am so amazed by this! I would never ever have thought to turn endives into a dessert…but leave it to you to do it, Faith!

  21. Amazing! This tart looks really delicious. I love endives…



  22. I’m a little embarrassed but i don’t really know what endives are hehe i had to google it and found out that it’s part of the ‘daisy’ family hahaha so is it a type of plant or fruit? Either way this tarte tatin looks wonderful ~ Thanks Faith for sharing :D

Similar Posts