Sunday, November 21, 2010

Simple Pear Tart

Pears are a problem. I really like pears, but go from hard to over-ripe in 60 seconds. They don't stay ripe and firm for a long time like apples. I bought five pears last week, and they suddenly were ripe yesterday. I'd seen a recipe for a pear tart in this month's bon apetit magazine, but it looked kind of complicated. Instead I searched epicurious and found this beauty. You make it in a skillet with just a few ingredients. It is fun-- you get to flip it over at the end-- and gorgeous, and not at all fussy. You don't even have to do things like weigh down crusts with beans and etc. I never make my own pastry dough, I use "Pappy's" brand which always turns out great and is made with lard. I recommend upping the cinnamon significantly and adding a little vanilla to the pears... (I could have eaten the whole thing last night.....)

Carmelized Upside-down Pear Tart

4 large firm-ripe Bosc pears (2 pounds total)

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Pastry dough

Peel and halve pears, then core. Heat butter in a 9- to 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then stir in sugar (sugar will not be dissolved). Arrange pears, cut sides up, in skillet with wide parts at rim of skillet. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and cook, undisturbed, until sugar turns a deep golden caramel. Add vanilla near the end. (This can take as little as 10 minutes or as much as 25, depending on pears, skillets, and stove. Be careful not to burn the sugar.) Cool pears completely in skillet.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 10 1/2-inch round. Arrange pastry over caramelized pears, tucking edge around pears inside rim of skillet. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cook on rack 5 minutes.

Invert a rimmed serving plate (slightly larger than skillet) over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto plate. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.

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