It’s a good thing October is one of my favorite months of the year, because this one is trying to do me in. And it’s probably also good thing that I turned down a cookbook deal I was offered last month (I know, I’m crazy). Preeeety sure I could not hack that right now. Life has been scheduled in pretty tightly and I’m just hanging on for dear life at the moment. For example: I said I would share these last week. And I didn’t. I didn’t lie, per se, I just had hope that I would squeeze it in somewhere in the wee hours of the night.
Which did not happen. I decided to sleep instead. My will to burn the midnight oil has weakened since I passed age 30.
So. October might be busy, but you can bet that I am trying to enjoy every magical little thing it has to offer, like white & green pumpkins, steamy hot drinks, ankle boots, soft, slouchy sweaters, and all the gorgeous pears. I’m lucky enough to be able to open my back door and pluck Bosc pears right from the branches of the tree that hovers over the roof.
With oodles of crisp, ripe pears just waiting to be transformed, I knew a tarte tatin was in order. I’ve been “tarte tatin-ing” all the fruit ever since I discovered homemade puff pastry about a month ago. I think a tarte tatin is one of the most simple and elegant desserts ever to be invented. This version involves, soft, perfectly baked pear slices coated in a sweet/salty honey caramel, studded with vanilla beans, laying on a sturdy foundation of flaky, buttery puff pastry. Serve it warm with a little vanilla ice cream for a dessert you won’t soon forget.
*If you do not want to make your own puff pastry, frozen store-bought puff pastry will work as well. BUT, I would maybe give the homemade version a try. You might be surprised at how incredibly easy it is to make! And if I’m being honest with you, store bought puff pastry has nothing on homemade. It’s been a game changer for me. There really is nothing like it! If you have 15 minutes, butter, and flour, you have puff pastry.
*The recipe gives instructions for making one, 12″ round tarte tatin. If you want to make smaller tarte tatins, like the one’s pictures, simply divide the syrup making into 3-4 separate mini cast iron skillets and top with puff pastry rounds that are 1/2″ larger in diameter than the skillet. If you don’t have small skillets, you can use smaller molds. Make the syrup in one pan, then divide it among the molds and proceed with the recipe (make sure, again, to cut your puff pastry rounds to size).
*Pears aren’t your thing? You can use almost any fruit you like. Apples would be wonderful here, as would quince or persimmons.
*Take care not to caramelize your syrup while cooking it on the stove top. It will caramelize while baking in the oven and if it gets dark on the stove top it will definitely taste burnt. Honey burns easily and you do not want that flavor in your dessert, trust me.
- FOR THE PUFF PASTRY:
- 1⅔ cup Flour
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 8 ounces Grass-fed Butter, cold
- ½ cup Ice cold Water
- extra flour for dusting
- FOR THE PEAR TOPPING:
- ¼ cup Fine Raw Cane Sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
- Seeds of 1 Vanilla Bean
- ¼ cup Honey
- 6 tablespoons Grass-fed Butter, cut into small cubes
- 4 Bosc or D'anjou Pears, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼" thick slices
- FOR THE PUFF PASTRY:
- Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and toss into the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two butter knives, slice the butter into the flour until it is pea-sized. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the water. Mix together lightly to form a dough. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and pat into the shape of a rectangle. Flour the top lightly and roll out to about half the thickness (the first part of this process will be a bit messy). Using a bench scraper, scrape under the top third of the rectangle and fold it over on top of the dough rectangle. Do the same thing with the bottom third of the dough so that you have formed a rectangle with three layers that is now laying horizontally. Turn the rectangle so that it is facing you vertically again and repeat the process of rolling, scraping, and turning, until you have done it about 10 times (use as much flour as is needed to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and counter, but not so much that it becomes dry). At this point you will have developed several flaky layers of pastry. Butter smears should be visible in the dough (this is where the flaky-ness comes from.
- Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper (flour lightly) and roll into a 12½" wide circle. Place in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- FOR THE PEAR TOPPING:
- Place the sugar, salt, and vanilla beans in a small bowl. Use your finger tips to rub the vanilla beans into the sugar - this will help distribute the vanilla beans and keep them from clumping up.
- Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over a 12" round cast iron skillet. Drizzle the honey evenly around the pan and place the cubes of butter evenly around the pan, as well.
- Place the skillet over medium/high heat and cook until the sugar and butter begin to melt. Continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, just until the mixture begins bubbling heavily (sugars should be fully dissolved). You don't wan't to start caramelizing the syrup yet as honey burns easily!
- Remove pan from heat and arrange the sliced pears over the syrup in circles.
- Take the chilled puff pastry circle out of the fridge and place over the top of the pears, tucking the edges down into the pan.
- Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the puff pastry top is a golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and VERY CAREFULLY invert the pan onto a large serving dish. Don't let the hot caramel run out and burn you!
- Let cool for 10 minutes.
- If you like, you can drizzle a little honey over the top for extra shine and sweetness.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.