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Pear Tarte Tatin with Vanilla and Ginger

Pear Tarte Tatin with Vanilla and Ginger


  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped into small bowl
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 5 medium-size firm Anjou pears (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled, halved, cored, each half cut into 4 wedges

Recipe Preparation

  • Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 10-inch square. Trim edges, making 10-inch-diameter round; pierce round all over with fork. Slide onto rimless baking sheet. Cover and chill pastry while preparing pears or up to 1 day.

  • Fill large skillet with ice and water; set aside. Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in heavy 10-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until syrup is dark amber color, occasionally swirling and brushing down sides of skillet with wet pastry brush, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, then vanilla-bean seeds and ginger (caramel will bubble up). Arrange pears, cut side down and overlapping, in circle in skillet, placing a few around edge, if necessary. Place skillet over medium heat. Cook until pears are tender and syrup thickens enough to coat spoon, about 23 minutes. Place hot skillet atop ice in large skillet to cool pear mixture quickly. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Place puff pastry round atop pear mixture in skillet; tuck in edges around pears. Bake tart until pastry is puffed and golden, about 35 minutes. Cool tart completely in pan at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Rewarm tart in oven 8 minutes. Place platter atop skillet. Using oven mitts, hold skillet and platter together and turn over, releasing tart. Serve tart with whipped cream.

Recipe by Claudia FlemingReviews Section

For the tarte tatin

  • 150g/5½oz salted butter, room temperature
  • 150g/5½oz caster sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds only
  • 2–3 cloves, ground
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Williams pears, peeled, cored and halved lengthways
  • 150g/5½oz ready-made puff pastry
  • plain flour, for dusting

For the ice cream

  • 3 free-range egg yolks
  • 90g/3¼oz soft light brown sugar
  • 250ml/9fl oz milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 200ml/7fl oz double cream
  • 100ml/3½fl oz crème fraîche

Recipe Summary

  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 firm, ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears, each peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 6 wedges

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll puff pastry to an 11 1/2-inch square using a plate as a guide, cut out an 11-inch round. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium cast-iron or ovenproof nonstick skillet, combine sugar, vinegar, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in butter. Arrange pear wedges in a circle along the edge of skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until pears are crisp-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Drape chilled pastry round over pears, tucking edge under. Place a small oven-safe plate or pot lid on top of pastry bake 15 minutes. Remove plate continue to bake until pastry is golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Let tart cool in skillet, 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of skillet, and carefully invert tart onto a serving plate. Serve warm.

What is the origin of Tarte Tatins?

A little story of how they were born:

I am not French, although I wish I was, so I am not sure about the validity of the stories I have read on the web over the years. Many say that Tatin was a fortuitous invention in French culinary world.

Here is the a little story of how Tarte Tatins were born.

The Tatin sisters, who are said to have invented them, ran a restaurant in France. One day one of them was tired after a long day of work and she had to make an apple pie, but she was so tired that couldn’t focus on cooking and accidentally she overcooked the apples in butter and sugar.

She was in a hurry to serve to the customers, so she covered those apples with a pastry sheet lying nearby, and then she put the whole pan in the oven.

Then the sisters served that dish as an upside down Tarte to their customers and soon after that, this Tarte became a sensation. That was the birth story of Tarte Tatin.

Holidays are approaching and we are in a need of some nice dessert ideas. For me, bite sized individual desserts sound more fun than serving a cake or pie. Beautiful little dessert bites of perfection — that’s what these Tatins are.

Pear Tarte Tatin with Pistachios and Vanilla

We’re in very delicious territory here, friends. I absolutely love Tarte Tatin. Give me apple, peach, apricot, pineapple, anything and I will happily cook it in caramel, top it with pastry and then bake it.

But my new favourite, I think, has to be this lovely pear version.

I went heavy on the vanilla in the caramel, and used a healthy dose of brandy which compliments the sweet, aromatic pears beautifully.

Really, what more could a pear ask for than to be bathed in a bubbling pool of dark caramel, and then blanketed in a generous sheet of all-butter puff pastry? There’s no better end for a pear than this.

Speaking of pastry, you should know that I totally advocate the use of store-bought puff. The only thing is that you need to get the all-butter stuff. Otherwise you end up with margarine, and that leaves that awful coating on the roof of your mouth, which I do not dig.

Once your good quality puff pastry has gone into the oven, and had the steam off these pears soaking into it for half an hour, along with having its edges coated and crisped with caramel, no-one will care where it came from. They will be too busy trying to break pieces off without burning their fingers.

Which, I might add, is impossible to do! So take my advice and let this cool down a little before you tuck in. You want the caramel to still be oozy and gorgeous, but not molten-lava-hot.

That way, the generous scoop of ice cream that you dollop onto each slice melts seductively, and slowly, allowing perfect bites to be crafted right up until you’re finished.

And I almost forgot the pistachios! Don’t forget the pistachios they’re so important I even included them in the title of the recipe. Even though they’re just chopped fresh and sprinkled over the top, they provide such a boost of flavour and texture and yes, good looks, that I think they pretty much make this tart.

So tell me, are you a fan of the tarte tatin? (<—- that rhymes!)

Why you’ll love this pear puff pastry tart:

My recipe itself is nearly foolproof. Start with a sheet of thawed puff pastry, brush with heavenly, ginger-spiced, brown sugar-infused butter, and top with sliced pears. Alternating the curvy slices creates a lovely ribbed pattern that elevates the pastry from its humble ingredients list.

A quick trip in the oven, and the puff pastry rises into dozens of flaky layers around the golden, caramelized pears. It’s sweet, and decadent, and almost too easy.

This pastry also takes advantage of the limited lifespan of pears – which I swear are only perfectly ripe for about an hour of their short lives – forgiving even to a slightly less-than-ripe or just so overly-soft specimen.

Try it warm from the oven with a spoonful of vanilla bean ice cream – any time of day!

Be sure to also try these other Fall favorites:

If you make this pear tart, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it! Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, Laura

Tarte Tatin

The signature challenge for this week is the tarte tatin, a French pastry dating back to the 1880s, when the sisters Tatin, Stéphanie and Caroline, ran the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron. What may have started out as a mistake became a signature dessert of the hotel and soon spread throughout France.

Basically, the tarte tatin is an upside-down pie, usually apple, with the fruit caramelized in butter and sugar on the stove before being topped with pastry and baked. After baking, the tart is turned upside down onto a plate so the fruit is on top, covered with a golden caramel sauce. If you’d like to watch Julia Child make one, here’s an entertaining video on YouTube. Just don’t pay any attention to the subtitles. Whoever wrote them obviously knew no French.

On The Great British Baking Show, four of the contestants used apples in their tartes tatin. The others used either pears, figs, bananas, or plums and cherries. I decided to use pears mixed with candied ginger and my own chai spice mix. Mary Berry said they should have a crisp pastry crust (no soggy bottoms!), usually made from rough puff pastry, and syrupy caramel. This meant two challenges for me: (1) making rough puff pastry, which I’ve never done before, and (2) making caramel, which I’ve only done twice before. (See my upside-down cake and my hidden design cake posts.)

I was excited about the rough puff pastry part, as I see it as an entrée into making full puff pastry, which I know I’ll have to do soon enough. As for making the caramel, I wasn’t too concerned, since I didn’t have any problems the first two times. However, I would soon find out I was in for a bit of a rough ride this time around.

I started by peeling and quartering the pears. I read a couple recipes that recommended keeping the prepared fruit in the refrigerator overnight to dry it out a bit so it won’t seep as much juice into the pastry, so I brushed the pears with lemon juice to keep them from browning and left them in an open container in the fridge.

I made the pastry the night before, too, since it needs to be chilled each time it’s rolled out to prevent the butter from melting. I chose Gordon Ramsay’s recipe from BBC’s Good Food website. (Most recipes for tarte tatin I found called for store-bought puff pastry—clearly a GBBS no-no!)

The difference between pie crust, or shortcrust pastry, and rough puff pastry, I learned, is that the butter in the rough puff shouldn’t be too well-incorporated into the flour—you still want to see streaks of butter when you’re rolling out the dough. This allows for the lamination, or layering, when the pastry is cooked as the butter melts, it creates steam that puffs up the pastry and leaves pockets of air between thin layers of dough.

Look closely for those pale streaks of butter!

I mixed the butter into the flour with my hands, so there were still rather large (½-inch) chunks of butter when I added the cold water. After letting the dough rest in the fridge for 20 minutes, I rolled it out in one direction, folded it in thirds, then made a quarter turn and rolled it out in the other direction. Folding it in thirds again, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge till morning.

Following this recipe for a pear tarte tatin from, I started making the caramel sauce with sugar, water and a little bit of brandy (instead of the lemon juice that her recipe calls for). While the author says to stir them together till the sugar dissolves, 1¼ cup of sugar doesn’t really dissolve in 3 tablespoons of liquid, so I was stirring for quite awhile, which was probably my first mistake. Once the mixture started forming large crystals on the surface, it was pretty much doomed to failure. So I had to start again, but this time I didn’t stir it as much. Again, however, it crystallized and soon seized up altogether.

Sugar crystals = Caramel fail!

Feeling discouraged, and determined not to go through seven attempts before achieving success like Manisha did in this challenge, I decided to revert to the method I had used successfully the first time I made caramel—the dry sugar method. I also decided to make half a batch at a time so I wouldn’t waste as much sugar if I failed again. Ultimately, it worked, but the caramel hardened so quickly I had to melt it again in the water and brandy solution that I had originally mixed with the sugar.

I’m determined to work on my caramel-making skills, and found this helpful website after the fact that gives a lot of tips and tricks for using the wet caramel method successfully.

After finally getting the caramel right and stirring in the butter, I arranged the pears on top in the pan that I planned to bake it in. It has to be a pan that can be used on the stovetop as well, so most people use a cast-iron frying pan. Rather than putting the pastry dough on top of the fruit right away, the recipe I used calls for cooking the pears on the stove for upwards of an hour to fully caramelize the fruit and juices. I also added the crystalized ginger and chai spices at this point so the flavors would meld and the ginger would soften with the pears.

Cooking the pears created quite a lot of liquid, so I used a turkey baster to remove most of the juices, reserving them for later, before draping the fruit with my pastry, tucking the edges under the pears with a silicone spatula. Removing the excess juice and pricking the pastry with a fork before baking helped prevent a soggy bottom.

After baking it to a delicious golden brown, I let the tart rest in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto a platter. The tricky part is flipping it without burning yourself or spilling hot pears and caramel all over the place. With a firm grip on both sides of the pan and platter with a towel, however, I was able to turn it out with almost all of the fruit in place. (Unlike Julia Child!)

Following the advice of Elizabeth, the recipe’s author, I used the reserved juices to make a lovely caramel sauce to pour over the tart and served it with vanilla ice cream. Delish!

Ginger and Chai-Spiced Pear Tarte Tatin

Rough Puff Pastry

  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. + 2 T. unsalted butter, room temperature but not soft
  • 5 oz. cold water (approx.)

Pear tarte tatin

Core the pears, then peel as neatly as possible and halve. If you like, they can be prepared up to a day ahead and kept in the fridge, uncovered, so that they dry out.

Tip the sugar, butter, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon into an ovenproof frying pan, about 20cm wide, and place over a high heat until bubbling. Shake the pan and stir the buttery sauce until it separates and the sugar caramelises to a toffee colour.

Lay the pears in the pan, then cook in the sauce for 10-12 mins, tossing occasionally, until completely caramelised. Don’t worry about them burning – they won’t – but you want to caramelise them as much as possible. Splash in the brandy and let it flambé, then set the pears aside.

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Roll the pastry out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a plate slightly larger than the top of the pan, cut out a circle, then press the edges of the circle of pastry to thin them out.

When the pears have cooled slightly, arrange them in the pan, cut side up, in a floral shape, with the pears around the edge pointing inwards. Rest the cinnamon stick on the top in the centre, with the cardamom pods scattered around.

Drape the pastry over the pears, then tuck the edges down the pan sides and under the fruit (see Gordon’s guide). Pierce the pastry a few times, then bake for 15 mins. If a lot of juice bubbles up the side of the pan, pour it off at this stage (see guide). Reduce oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and bake for 15 mins more until the pastry is golden. Leave the tart to stand for 10 mins, then invert it carefully onto a serving dish.


Use a ripe, yet firm, pear that holds its shape. My favourite pear for this dish is Comice as it’s naturally firm-fleshed even when ripe, and has a nice, round-bottomed shape. In my restaurants we peel the pears and leave them, uncovered, in the fridge for a day. This helps them dry out, so they won’t release too much juice and dilute the caramel when you cook them. Don’t worry about them going brown as this actually adds to the finished dish.


To make this into an apple Tatin, simply swap the pears for apples. Tatins can also be made with plums, nectarines or peaches, but won’t work with fruits like strawberries or raspberries as their flesh is too soft.

We pour away the excess juices from the pan halfway through baking to stop the pastry becoming soggy when you turn the tart out. This isn’t essential but, if you do decide to do so, be very careful to avoid burning yourself with the hot pan or the molten sauce. We also serve baby tartes in my restaurants, cooking them to order in small copper pans.


Make sure you tuck the pastry down the sides of the pan, using a spoon or knife to lift the pears and tuck the pastry under. This will ensure the pastry 'hugs' the fruit as it cooks, keeping the tart nice and compact.

Pear Tarte Tatin


  • Crust:
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick, 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup full fat sour cream
  • Filling:
  • 2 pounds firm bosc pears (about 5 pears)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar plus 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 teaspoons of minced candied ginger
  • Light grating of fresh nutmeg (or a dash of ground nutmeg)
  • Equipment needed:
  • A well-seasoned 9-inch or 10-inch cast iron pan
  • Rimmed serving plate or pie plate


Cube the butter and set out at room temperature. In a separate large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Use your hands or a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour until you see small, pea-sized pieces of butter. Stir in the sour cream with a fork. Form the dough into a ball and shape into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling out. (See more instructions here: No Fail Sour Cream Pie Crust Recipe.)

While waiting for the dough, prepare the pears and the caramel in steps 2 through 5.

Peel and halve the pears lengthwise. Reserve one pear half for the center of the tarte, and cut the remaining halves once more lengthwise.

Core the pear quarters and the half. As you peel and cut the pears, place them in a bowl and sprinkle some lemon juice over them to keep them from turning brown.

Sprinkle the pear pieces with 2 Tbsp sugar and toss to distribute the sugar and lemon juice over all the pears.

Melt butter in cast iron pan on medium heat. Swirl the butter so that it coats the sides of the pan as well. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of sugar over the butter in an even layer. Remove the pan from heat.

Place the single pear half, cut side up, in the center of the pan. Fan the remaining pear quarters, with the narrow side pointing toward the center, around the center pear half. Angle them as you go as to fit all of the pears in. Try to minimize any gaps.

Return the pan to medium heat and gently cook, without stirring the pears until the sugar butter mixture turns a deep caramel color, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a baking sheet pan.

Sprinkle the pears with grated nutmeg and minced candied ginger.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Roll out the pastry dough to 11 inches if using a 9-inch cast iron pan and 12 inches if using a 10-inch pan. Place the pastry dough over the pears and gently tuck the edges inside the edge of the pan. Careful, the pan is still hot. I find using a fork helps to ease the dough inside the edges of the pan.

Place the pan in the 375°F oven (on the baking sheet to catch any spillover) and reduce the heat to 350°F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until pastry is baked through and nicely browned. Remove from oven.

Place a rimmed serving dish or a pyrex or ceramic pie dish over the pan. Wearing thick, well insulated oven mitts or potholders, using two hands to hold the dish firmly over the pan, flip them over, releasing the tarte tatin to the plate.

The caramel is hot and liquid-y and can easily spill, so take care and work quickly. Don't worry if some of the liquid spills out, just make sure to wear oven mitts (or long sleeves) and an apron to protect yourself as you do the flip.

Flip the tarte over while the tarte tatin is still hot, that way the caramel will not make the tarte stick to the pan as you invert it. The pears will likely have moved a bit in the flip-over, so rearrange them with a fork (they're hot!) so they form an attractive pattern.

Let cool to room temperature before serving. Serve with a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Mary Berry’s pear, ginger and almond brioche tart

Many moons ago I created a brioche tart with apricots. It is a recipe many people still say is one of their favourites, so I have made a new version using pears and almonds. Take time to arrange the pears beautifully on the top of the brioche. It helps to make the tart look really stunning – guaranteed to impress!

Georgia Glynn Smith

PREP TIME: 10-15 minutes

COOK TIME: 30-35 minutes, plus resting

butter, softened, for greasing
½ brioche loaf
1 egg, beaten
250g (9oz) full-fat mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 stem ginger pieces, finely chopped
2 x 400g tins of pears, drained, dried and thinly sliced (see note)
3 tbsp ginger syrup (from the stem ginger jar)
25g (1oz) flaked almonds

1. You will need a 28cm (11in) round shallow dish. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and grease the base and sides of the dish.

2. Cut the brioche into slices 1cm (½in) thick and arrange in the base of the prepared dish, placing the slices close together and cutting them, if necessary, to fit the base.

3. Mix the egg and mascarpone together in a bowl with the sugar and vanilla extract. Fold in the ginger pieces and then spoon into the dish to cover the brioche in an even layer. Arrange the pear slices over the top in a spiral pattern. Brush the pears with the ginger syrup and then sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

4. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden on top and underneath. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 10 minutes before serving warm with cream or crème fraîche.


If fresh pears are in season, peel and thinly slice your favourite variety. If you are using tinned pears, lay the drained fruit on a plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up any excess liquid.


The tart can be assembled up to 4 hours ahead and baked to serve.

Not suitable for freezing.