Josephine fancies herself a gourmet cook. I wish I could say the same of myself, but to be honest, my tendency is more towards easy, fool-proof recipes that taste and look great but use a few “cheat” ingredients.
This recipe for Tarte Tatin of Pears with Spices – passed down to me long ago by a true gourmet cook – fits the bill perfectly. The “cheat” ingredients are puff pastry and vanilla ice-cream. Beyond peeling 3 pears and splitting a vanilla bean in half, there’s little other prep work.
3 – 10 oz firm but ripe Anjou pears (other kinds are ok, as long as the pear is firm)
6 whole cloves
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 star anise
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (1/2 of a 17-1/4 oz package), thawed
vanilla ice cream (keep hidden from your husband if he likes ice-cream as much as mine does!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit. Peel pears, cut in half and core. Pierce rounded side of each pear with one clove. Melt butter in a a 9 to 10 ” diameter non-stick ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add sugar and stir until sugar melts and mixture is pale golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean and star anise.
Arrange pears in skillet, rounded sides down and stem end pointing towards the center of the skillet. Cover; cook over medium-low heat until pears are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until syrup is golden, thick and bubbling, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Roll out pastry to 1/8th inch thickness. Place pastry atop warm pears, tucking in pastry on the edges. Pierce pastry several times with small sharp knife. Bake until pastry is brown and slightly puffed, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.
Invert tart onto plate. Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream.