The traditional French tarte tatin is made with apples, but our version substitutes crisp pears for a unique twist. Paired with a scoop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and seasoned with warm nutmeg and cinnamon, this dessert is a celebration of fall.
Pear Tarte Tatin with Winter Spices
8-by-10-inch (20-by-25-cm.) rectangle of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g.) granulated sugar
4 firm, ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored
1/2 cup (4 oz./120 g.) light brown sugar
2 Tbs. finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. each ground nutmeg and cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Refrigerate the pastry dough for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, grease a 12-inch (30-cm.) round baking dish with 2-inch (5-cm.) sides. Sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the bottom.
Place the pears, cut side up, in a tight layer in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g.) of the brown sugar. Top with the crystallized ginger and lemon juice. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons butter into bits and dot the tops of the pears. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g.) brown sugar and the nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the pears.
On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry a little larger than the diameter of the baking dish and 1/4 inch (6 mm.) thick. Transfer to the dish. Tuck the edges of the pastry into the bottom of the dish to form a rim that encircles the pears. Prick the top all over with a fork.
Bake until the crust is golden brown, the pears are tender, and a thickened, golden syrup has formed in the dish, about 1 hour. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Run a knife around the inside edge of the dish to loosen the sides. Invert the tart onto a plate, dislodging and replacing any pears that may have stuck to the dish. Cut into wedges and serve warm. Serves 6-8.