Using purchased puff pastry makes assembling these pretty autumn tarts a breeze. For the best results, choose an all-butter frozen puff pastry, which is available at most gourmet grocers. For a pretty presentation, use a leaf-shaped piecrust cutter or a paring knife to cut out a leaf shape, and attach it to the edge of the puff pastry round using a little bit of the egg wash.
Poached Pear Tartlets with Pistachios
- 3 firm but ripe pears
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) red wine
- 3/4 cup (6 oz./180 g) granulated sugar
- 2-inch (5-cm) strip of lemon zest
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 star anise pod
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
- 1 egg, beaten
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) coarsely chopped toasted pistachios
- Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)
1. Peel the pears, leaving the stems intact. Cut each in half lengthwise and, using a melon baller, remove the core from each pear half.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine, sugar, lemon zest and juice, star anise, cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Add the pears, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, turning the pears occasionally, until very tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, leaving the pears in the poaching liquid. (For a deeper color and flavor, once the pears have cooled, cover and refrigerate in the poaching liquid for up to 2 days.)
3. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. To assemble the tarts, roll out the puff pastry to about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Using a 5-inch (13-cm) round cutter, preferably fluted, cut out 6 rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet.
5. Using a sharp knife, slice the pears vertically, stopping 1/2 inch (12 mm) from the stem end so the pear slices stay attached. Arrange one pear half on each of the pastry rounds, gently pressing on the pear half to fan the slices but leaving the slices overlapping. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until the puff pastry is crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
6. To serve, divide the tarts among individual plates and sprinkle with the pistachios. Serve the tarts warm with vanilla ice cream alongside. Serves 6.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen