Take the tomatoes and core the tops out of them. Peel the tomatoes by blanching in boiling water and plunging into ice cold water. Cut into Quarters (or thirds if large tomatoes) and place on a baking tray (seed side up). Peel the shallots and blanch in hot water for 30 seconds and place on the baking tray. Sprinkle with Thyme, Olive Oil, Balsamic, Salt and Pepper and a pinch of Sugar. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 170°C. Remove and leave to cool. Keep an eye during the cooking, adding a splash of water to avoid the bottom catching if it looks a little dry. Once cool slice the shallots in halves or quarters lengthways.
Meanwhile, make the savoury Short Crust Pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt and butter. Rub the mixture together with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, keeping palms faced up to ensure the mix stays cool. Add the parmesan. Make a well in the centre and add 1 lightly beaten egg. Using the handle end of a metal fork or spoon, roughly mix the egg in with the rest of the mixture (this avoids your fingers getting coated!). Add a splash of cold water, and lightly knead to bring the mixture together into a ball. Only add a splash of water at a time as the pastry can become too wet quickly (a good tip is to dip your fingers into a little cold water to bring the final bits of the mix together). Avoid kneading too much, as soon as the pastry comes together pack into a ball and wrap with cling film. Once wrapped, roll the pastry into a fat sausage shape the same width as the ramekins for the tart and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes – doing this means you don’t have to roll the pastry and cut out before using, you can simply cut each slice off before it goes on the Tarte.
Make a caramel by melting sugar on a medium heat with a tiny splash of water until all the water has boiled out and you have a nice amber colour. Pour a little of the caramel mixture into the bottom of each ramekin. Arrange 4 tomato quarters on top of the caramel, seeds facing inside, followed by 3-4 slices of shallot placed in between the tomato and a few in the centre. Sprinkle with parmesan shavings. Unwrap the pastry and slice a thin disc (less than 1cm) and place on top of the ramekin, tucking in the edges a little. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 180ºC until the pastry is golden.
To turn out the Tartes I quickly flip the ramekin upside-down onto a side plate (hold with a tea-towel), then slide the ramekin onto the serving plate before lifting the ramekin up. If you do this whilst its still hot it comes out easily – don’t let it cool too much or the sugars will harden and stick to the ramekin. Serve with dressed rocket salad and sprinkled with a little parmesan and some toasted pine nuts.