This show stopping French tarte tatin is made with tender pears that have been poached in a spice infused red wine sauce. Perfect for the holidays!
For the Pears
- 6 (8 if small) firm, but ripe pears (I prefer bartlett, but any variety except Asian pears will work)
- 1 bottle fruity red wine (use something inexpensive)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
For the Crust
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening*
- 3–4 tablespoons cup ice water (or more)
- Whipped Cream, ice cream, sweetened mascarpone or Greek yogurt for serving
Poach the Pears
- Peel the pears, slice in half and use a melon baller to remove the cores, remove the stems or leave intact for a neat presentation. Pour the wine into a large saucepan, then fill the bottle with water and add that along with the sugar and bring up to a boil. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use a knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the mixture along with the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Reduce to a simmer, add the pears, and weigh them down with a plate so they’re all totally immersed.
- Poach for about 20 minutes, then remove from the pot and place in a container to prevent them from overcooking. Remove the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and vanilla bean (save that vanilla bean for another use). Allow the liquid to cool completely, then pour over the pears, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator for 1-3 days.
Make the Crust
- Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the butter and shortening, then use a pastry cutter or fork to break down the fat until it becomes the size of peas. Pour in 3 tablespoons of water and mix gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the dough just starts to form a shaggy mass. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if needed. Use your hands to press the dough until it just comes together. Resist the urge to knead and squish – overmixing will make it tough. The dough should not be sticky, and you should be able to see the pieces of butter and shortening flecked throughout.
- Once the dough has formed, gently shape it into a disc. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 3 days. For longer storage, wrap tightly and freeze for up to 6 months.
Assemble the Tarte
- Pour the pear liquid into a medium saucepan and bring up to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat until it has reduced by more than half, about 20 minutes. The liquid should be thick and syrupy. Keep a close eye on it towards the last few minutes of reduction. Overcooking the syrup will make it caramelize and give it an off flavor. Remove from the heat and whisk in the pinch of salt and butter. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the inside of a pie plate, then pour in 1/2 cup of the wine syrup. Arrange the pear halves in a pretty circular pattern with the cut side up (remember, this tart will be inverted so the bottom will eventually become the top). Be sure to cram them all in to fit – they’ll shrink a bit as they cook.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and place on a generously floured work surface. Dust a rolling pin with flour, and begin to roll out the dough, rotating it 1 inch after every 1-2 rolls. This will help ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the counter, and will also keep it in a round shape. Use a measuring tape or the pie plate to determine when the dough has reached the right circumference. It should measure about 1 inche larger than the pie plate. If the dough does not roll out perfectly round, use a knife or a pizza cutter to trim the edges and even it out.
- Drape the dough over top and tuck the edges in between the pears and the edge of the dish.
- Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough on top is puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until only slightly warm. Place a serving plate over top of crust, hold down on it firmly with one hand while the other hand supports the bottom (it’s a good idea to wear oven mitts and long sleeves in case any of the syrup spills out). Hold the plates away from you, then quickly flip them both over so that the crust is now on the bottom. Gently remove the pie plate to reveal the pears.
- Drizzle with a little bit of leftover wine syrup (it’s strong and sweet – don’t go crazy)**. Serve warm (ideally) with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or lightly sweetened mascarpone or Greek yogurt.
- *I prefer to use non hydrogenated shortening such as Spectrum Organic.
- **This recipe makes quite a bit of leftover wine syrup. It’s excellent served as an accompaniment with cheese or as a topping for ice cream!
- Serving Size: 8
Keywords: poached, pears, red wine, tarte tatin, holiday, French, christmas, Thanksgiving, pie, tart,