Sharing fruit gifts during the holidays is a beloved tradition that dates back to the 19th century, and when I think of holiday seasonal fruit, Royal Riviera Pears always come to mind. These beauties are bursting with flavor and are perfectly sweet and juicy. You can certainly enjoy them on their own, however, I turned them into an irresistible tarte Tatin.
Tarte Tatin (pronounced tah-TAN) is a classic French pastry in which fruit — traditionally apples — is caramelized in sugar and butter before it’s baked in a buttery puff pastry crust and served with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. This delicious dish dates back to the 19th century when the Tatin sisters accidentally slid their tart into the oven upside down (or so the legend goes). Think of it as a rustic upside-down tart with beautifully sliced pears in a rich caramelized sauce. But make no mistake. This pear tart is really easy to make and will make any beginner baker look like a pro.
Before getting started, check the ripeness of the pears. You can test the firmness by pressing your thumb near the neck of the pear. If the skin gives a little, this is a sign your pears are fresh. Depending on their firmness you’d need to bake for more or less time. If you’re using Royal Riviera Pears, they should be ripe in about two to three days after they arrive at your doorstep (who doesn’t love a pear delivery during the holidays?).
The most stressful part of this pear tarte Tatin recipe is the flip. Pro tip: Run a knife around the edge of the crust and then place your serving plate upside down on top of the tart. Get a firm grip on the plate and skillet and flip fast. The tarte should still be warm which will allow you to nudge any pears back into place.
This is the perfect dessert to serve at the end of a lovely fall or holiday dinner with family and friends.
Pear Tarte Tatin
For the filling
- 1 sheet puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package, thawed)
- 3 medium Harry & David® Royal Riviera® Pears
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- all-purpose flour (for rolling)
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
- Whipped cream (crème fraîche, or ice cream)
- Preheat the oven to 375º F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to an 1/8-inch-thick 12-inch circle. Using a plate or cake mold as a guide, cut out an 11-inch round. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Peel and core the pears, and slice them into quarters. Set aside.
For the caramel sauce
- In a 10-inch oven-safe skillet, melt the white sugar and brown sugar on low-medium heat until light brown. It will be clumpy at first until it starts to dissolve into a syrupy liquid (about 5 to 10 minutes).
- Remove from heat and add the butter, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes until incorporated.
- Arrange the pears on top of the caramel sauce, while being careful not to touch the hot caramel. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the firmness of the pears: less firm equals less time and more firm equals more time.
- Remove the skillet from the oven. Scoop out any of the excess liquid and save for later. Set skillet aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Drape the chilled pastry over the pears and caramel sauce. Tuck the edges into the pan and prick with a fork.
- Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the crust, place the serving plate upside down over the top of the skillet, and carefully flip the tart onto the plate. Brush the pears with the remaining syrupy liquid and serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.