Caramelized Pear Tarte Tatin on white parchment paper set on a dark wood table
Caramelized Pear Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin has to be one of the most spectacular French desserts, made all the more amazing due to its minimal ingredients list and ease of preparation. Quite simply the fruit is placed on the bottom of a skillet with butter and sugar, topped with puff pastry and baked until the layers are browned and crackling crispy. It is then turned out onto a plate so that the fruit is right side up again, creating a beautiful display. Traditionally it is made with apples, but many types of fruit will do. Even savory tarts are delicious, like the endive version from my cookbook. A pear Tarte Tatin is one of my favorite sweet versions, and with this shortcut skillet caramel sauce, will become one of yours as well.

Caramelized Pear Tarte Tatin

Caramelized Pear Tarte Tatin on white parchment paper set on a dark wood table
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Tarte Tatin has to be one of the most spectacular French desserts, made all the more amazing due to its minimal ingredients list and ease of preparation. Quite simply the fruit is placed on the bottom of a skillet with butter and sugar, topped with puff pastry and baked until the layers are browned and crackling crispy. It is then turned out onto a plate so that the fruit is right side up again, creating a beautiful display. Traditionally it is made with apples, but many types of fruit will do. Even savory tarts are delicious, like the endive version from my cookbook. A pear Tarte Tatin is one of my favorite sweet versions, and with this shortcut skillet caramel sauce, will become one of yours as well.
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Course Dessert
Servings 8

Ingredients
 

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 3 medium pears, peeled and sliced ⅛ inch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ vanilla bean, or use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 sheet (14 ounces) all-butter puff pastry
  • ice cream for serving

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 375 F.
  • Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of water and cook over medium low heat until it is bubbling and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Split the vanilla bean down the center and scrape the seeds into the skillet, stirring to combine. If you’re using extract instead, stir that in. Don't worry if it starts to look crystalized. Just make sure the sugar is even on the bottom of the skillet. Turn the heat off.
  • Peel the pears and cut into quarters. Slice them into quarter-inch slices through the wide part of the pear, leaving the narrow end intactc. Arrange the pears over the butter sugar mixture. Sprinkle with the cardamom.
  • Unfold your puff pastry, and trim to a circle slightly larger than your pan (about 13 inches). Drape it over the pears, tucking the sides in, then use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the pastry to vent.
  • Place the skillet in your preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the puff pastry is well browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for 3 minutes.
  • This is the tricky part. Use oven mitts, and be careful when turning the tart out of the heavy cast iron skillet. I have broken a plate before doing this maneuver, and now I'll place a piece of parchment paper over the tart, then a cooling rack, and flip the tart out onto that. Then you can slide it onto a serving plate without worrying about breaking it. If any pears have stuck to the skillet, replace them onto the tart.
  • Enjoy warm, or allow to come to room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream, or simply unsweetened whipped cream.

Notes

Note: If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can make this in a deep 10-inch pie plate. Cook the butter and brown sugar as directed, using a small saucepan instead. Pour this into the pie plate, arranging the pears on top of the sugar butter mixture, then place the puff pastry over top as directed in step 2 and continue with the recipe.
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