Pear Tarte Tatin
Pear Tarte Tatin is a fast, simple but very impressive dessert. Dark, sticky caramel and tender pears infused with the flavour of star anise on a base of shortcrust pastry. Topped with a scoop of ice-cream or creme fraiche and you are in dessert heaven!!
Tarte Tatin originated as the signature dish of the hotel of the same name.
The story goes that it was created accidentally when, one of the two sisters who ran the hotel, left apples cooking in the butter and sugar for too long (her initial intent was to make an apple pie).
To rescue the situation, she quickly placed pastry over the apples and finished it off in the oven. After turning it upside down to serve to the guests, she was surprised at how much they loved it.
Lucky for us, they did!
Although Tarte Tatin was originally made with apples, it can also be made with other types of fruit such as peaches, pineapple or pears.
The variety of pears l use are Beurre Bosc. They are nice and firm and their slightly more slender shape looks elegant when arranged in a circle. I also add star anise which has a strong liquorice-like aroma, and adds a beautiful flavour to the pears.
While the pears and the decadently buttery caramel sauce are really the show stoppers in this dessert, the choice of pastry is also important.
Puff pastry has gorgeous crispy layers in its favour, but becomes soggy beneath all that caramel sauce. Shortcrust pastry is more biscuity and a lot more sturdier, which is why l lean towards a shortcrust for this dessert.
Save the puff for another time!!
Preparation Time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 30 mins Servings: 4 – 6
- 5 Beurre Bosc pears (note 1)
- 60 g / 2 oz castor sugar
- 40 g / 1.5 oz butter, cubed
- 4 star anise
- 1 sheet shortcrust pastry, thawed (note 2)
- Optional: a scoop of ice-cream or creme fraiche
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
- Peel and quarter the pears lengthwise. Remove the core. You can keep a little of the stem on. Place in a bowl and set aside, uncovered, in the fridge (note 3).
- Using a plate as guide, cut a 26 cm / 10 inch round from the pastry. Set aside in the fridge (note 4).
- Heat sugar over moderate-high heat in a 26 cm / 10 inch ovenproof frying pan (note 5).
- Without stirring, cook the sugar until golden brown. Tilt the pan every now and then.
- Add the butter and stir until melted to create a golden caramel.
- Turn off the stove. Place the star anise randomly in the pan. Work quickly to arrange the pears on their sides in a circular pattern with the stalks facing in. Fill in the centre by cutting one of the quarters in the shape of a disc.
- Drape the sheet of shortcrust pastry over the pears. Pierce the pastry in 3 or 4 places with a small knife. This is to allow steam to escape.
- Place the pan on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden. Place baking/parchment paper loosely over the pastry if it colours too quickly.
- Remove from the oven and allow the tarte tatin to stand for 5 minutes before inverting it onto a plate.
- Pour any extra caramel sauce from the pan into a small jug. Serve with ice-cream or creme fraiche with caramel sauce drizzled over the top.
- Try to select pears that are similar in size and shape. They will be easier to arange in the pan.
- I recommend shortcrust pastry over puff pastry. Puff can become soggy once the tarte tatin has cooled.
- I place the pears in the fridge so they can dry out a little. I do this so that the pastry can be as crisp as possible. Set aside one of the quarters to fill in the centre of the tarte tatin.
- I usually cut my pastry to the same measurements as my pan. If you’d like your pastry to drape over the pears a bit more, simple cut a slightly larger round.
- I have also used a 24 cm / 9.5 inch pan to make the tarte tatin. I just needed fewer pears.