When it comes to fall and winter baking, apples always seem to be everyone’s go-to. Nothing against apples, they’re perfect, I hope they never change, but to me, pears are the unsung hero of winter baking. It’s easy to overlook a Bosc pear in the grocery store, it’s a homely little thing—muted brown and rough to the touch—much like wool, you’d have no idea the deep layers of soft warmth it can impart when treated with a deft hand and a little extra care. This tart uses frozen puff pastry as a base, which takes away the stress that comes with making a good tart crust, and the simple ingredients come together to impart surprisingly complex, cozy flavors, the star of which is the humble pear.
Salted Brown Butter Pear Tart
Makes 8 servings
1/2 stick good quality salted butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 pound ripe Bosc pears, scrubbed, cored, and sliced 1/8” thick
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator until pliable
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400F.
Add butter, scraped vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla bean pod to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter, stirring often, until it foams and then browns but doesn’t burn—about 5 minutes. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to a large heat safe bowl to halt cooking and prevent burning. Be sure to scrape all the browned bits up from the bottom of the pan—that’s where all the flavor is.
Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard.
Add sliced pears and brown sugar to the hot browned butter and toss until coated and slightly softened from the heat.
Cut a roughly 10”x12” rectangle out of your sheet of puff pastry and lay the rectangle on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Arrange buttered pears on the puff pastry, leaving a 1 inch border around the edges.
Fold the edges over to create a wall to hold in the juices.
Bake until puff pastry is golden brown and pears are soft and bubbling—about 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts and drizzle with maple syrup.
Serve with creme fraiche.
By, Cara Nicoletti