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Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Pour boiling water over the shallots and leave them until the water cools. (This makes it easier to slip the skins off.) Peel and halve the shallots, then set aside. Put the sugar in a 23cm ovenproof frying pan and heat until it dissolves and you have a sticky caramel. Add the butter, thyme and a splash of balsamic vinegar or cracked black pepper – take care as it will spit.
Remove the pan from the heat and put all the shallots into the pan, cut-side down. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and cut out a round 2cm larger than the pan. Drape the pastry over the shallots and tuck in the edges, so that it ‘hugs’ the shallots. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 25-30 mins until the pastry is puffed up and golden. Leave to rest for 1 min, then invert the tart onto a plate. Serve with a punchy salad of rocket and goat’s cheese.