Spiced Pear Tarte Tatin
A traditional tarte tatin uses apples and a classic pastry crust, but this version substitutes pears and flaky puff pastry for a beautiful effect with a minimum of effort. Just remember to watch the sugar carefully as it caramelizes in the pan; it will turn from amber colored to burned in a matter of seconds, so have your butter ready next to the stove so you can add it quickly.
- 1 package (about 14 oz./440 g) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 6 firm, ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored
- 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) plus 2 Tbs. sugar
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) crème fraîche
Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C).
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a 12-inch (30-cm) square. Using a paring knife, trim the corners of the pastry to turn the square into a 12-inch (30-cm) circle. (It doesn’t have to be perfect, because you will be tucking the edges into the pan.) Prick the pastry all over with a fork. Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and ginger until combined. Add the pears to the bowl and toss to coat them in the spice mixture. Set aside.
Place a 10-inch (25-cm) ovenproof fry pan over medium heat. Sprinkle 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) of the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and turns into an amber-colored caramel, 3 to 4 minutes. Watch it carefully, because once the sugar starts to color, it can burn quickly. When the sugar is amber colored, immediately add the butter and cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and thoroughly combined into the caramel.
Arrange the pear halves, cut side up, in the pan to completely cover the pan bottom. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully arrange the pastry on top of the pears, centering the pastry over the pan and tucking the edges between the pears and the sides of the pan. Cut two small slits in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape.
Bake until the crust is golden brown, the pears are tender, and a thick syrup forms in the pan, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow the tart to cool and firm up slightly.
While the tarte tatin cools, make the whipped crème fraiche: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream, crème fraiche and the remaining 2 Tbs. sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Place a large flat serving plate upside down on top of the pan and invert the tart onto the plate, dislodging and replacing any pears that may have stuck to the pan. Cut into wedges and serve immediately, topping each serving with some of the whipped crème fraîche. Serves 8.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen