Caramelized Upside-Down Pear Tart (Pear Tarte Tatin)

March 20, 2014

One more month until Easter, and then I can eat dessert again! So far I haven’t had too many struggles giving up sugar for Lent… I don’t eat desserts often anyway (despite what my blog might seem to tell you). But when I’ve made something I know is really excellent and I can’t have even a single piece of it, that is when it gets tough! Last week we celebrated Pi Day at work: I made the same sour cream apple pie that I made last year, and once again I couldn’t allow myself to have any. (Last year I went gluten-free, so the flour in the crust made it off-limits.) Next year I’m reallygoing to have to find something to sacrifice that isn’t contained in pie! And coming up tomorrow is the last day at work for one of our technicians as she’s transferring to a different location at the hospital. And people’s last day always means baking! She’s been on a Nutella kick lately, so tonight I’ll be making a chocolate-hazelnut mousse cake with ganache topping. Which, assuming it turns out well, I’ll be sharing with you all. :)

So while I’m thinking about desserts, this is a tart (from the Gourmet cookbook) that I made back in the late fall after we purchased an overabundance of pears at the market. “Upside down” desserts are always fun… you never know exactly how they’re going to look until you turn them out of the pan! And they have that easygoing rustic nature; with all the popularity of painstakingly decorated cupcakes/cake balls/what-have-you, sometimes it’s fun to make something unfussy and imperfect instead. And if you know how to make pie crust, this recipe couldn’t be easier! Just involves peeling/halving/coring the pears, putting them in a skillet with sugar/butter/cinnamon (and you don’t even stir them once they’re in the pan), then covering with dough and baking. An incredibly delicious result for not much effort. I’ll definitely be making this tart again come next fall!

Caramelized upside-down pear tart

Serves 8



  • 1¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4  stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2  tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 2  tablespoons sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling and accompaniment

  • 1/2  stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/2  cup sugar
  • 4  firm but ripe Bosc pears (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved, and cored
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream


  1. For the crust: Blend together flour, butter, shortening, salt, and sugar in food processor (you can also use your fingers or a pastry blender) just until mixture resembles course meal with some small (roughly pea-sized) butter lumps. Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture. Pulse (or gently stir with a fork) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing (or stirring) until incorporated (do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough). Turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together, press into a ball, and flatten into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling: Heat butter in 9- to 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet (or well-seasoned cast iron skillet) over moderate heat until foam subsides. Stir in sugar (sugar will not dissolve yet). Arrange pears cut sides up in skillet, with wider ends out. Sprinkle cinnamon over pears and cook, without stirring, until sugar mixture becomes a deep golden caramel, 15 to 25 minutes (depending on skillet and stove). Remove from heat and cool pears completely in skillet. Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.
  3. Assemble and bake: Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 9½- to 10½-inch round. Lay over pears in skillet and tuck edges in around pears.
  4. Bake until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove tart from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Wearing oven mitts, invert a rimmed serving plate slightly larger than skillet over tart and, keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert tart onto plate. Serve arm or at room temperature, with whipped cream or ice cream.

One comment

  1. […] another pear dessert recipe that I made back in the fall – a more complex pie instead of an easy tart this time! Although honestly the pie isn’t that much more complicated, just possibly more […]

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