Pear and Pecan Tarte Tatin

This was my very first attempt at a tarte Tatin! I’m actually quite embarrassed to say that this was also the first time that I had ever tasted a tarte Tatin. I’ve seen it many, many times on tv and in books, but never actually made the effort to get my hands on it. So I grabbed my trusted Larousse Gastronomique (cookbook “bible”) and started peeling pears. Traditionally, French tarte Tatin is made with apples, but you can use many other kinds of fruit: pears, peaches, prunes, even tomatoes. I chose pears because they are in season and not expensive at all.
I found that the recipe could do with a lot less butter than stated in Larousse (it calls for 225g, but I only used about 100g), but otherwise it came out perfectly. This is such a beautiful tart to look at! And it is really so delicious – the caramel sinks into the puff pastry when you turn it out, and it becomes this amazing, sticky, fruity, caramel delicacy. So simple, yet so indulgent.  I like to serve it at room temperature, when the texture of the caramel really is at it’s best, but some prefer it warm, served with crème fraîche.


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Ingredients

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 100g Butter
  • 1kg Pears (choose a variety that is very firm, but still sweet)
  • 500g Puff pastry
  • 50g Pecan nuts

Method

  1. Peel, core and half the pears.
  2. Using a 23/27 cm tarte Tatin dish (or pan), melt the butter slowly over low heat and add sugar. Arrange pear halves tightly in pan in concentric circles, with rounded sides facing the pan bottom. Note: they will shrink, so pack them tightly.
  3. Turn the heat up to fairly high and boil until the sugar and butter forms a golden caramel. The mixture will rise as it boils to cover the pears completely. Watch it closely and remove from heat to prevent it from boiling over. When a caramel is formed, remove from heat to cool completely in the pan.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Roll out the puff pastry and cut into a circle that’s slightly larger than the pan. Cover the pears with the pastry, tucking in the edges so that the fruit is contained. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden.
  5. Remove from oven, place a serving dish on top of the pan and carefully turn upside down (work quickly, but be very careful!). Remove the pan. If any fruit has moved out of place, now is the time to carefully put them back in place if necessary.
  6. Return the pan to the heat, and quickly toss the pecan nuts in the remaining caramel sauce for a few seconds. Add the pecans to the tart. Let cool and serve.