I made this recipe, Caramelized Upside-Down Pear Tart, about three years ago for Thanksgiving. Then, I forgot about it. Then, I saw pears on sale last week at Publix grocery store. The recipe is even yummier than I remembered. There are several things that make it unique. First, it's made in a cast iron skillet. Second, it's somewhere between a pineapple upside down cake, and a tarte Tatin, which is kind of the French version of an apple pie. It has a lovely, buttery crust, that is different from the normal pie crust that I make for a peach pie or an apple pie.
There are a couple of steps that will take you a bit of time. They're not difficult, but you do need to allow for the appropriate amount of time. First, you will need to chill the crust for at least an hour. I made mine the day before, and let it chill all night, just so that I wouldn't have to spend as much time making it the day I planned to serve it. Second, after you have caramelized the pears in the sugar, you need to allow time for the pears to cool in the skillet before you place the crust on top.
Well, anyway, I shot a few pictures while I was cooking, because I remembered from the first time I made it how pretty it was, so I thought I would share this YUMMY recipe with you. My kids are begging me to make it for Thanksgiving again this year, and I just might.
Both of these recipes came from my yellow copy of The Gourmet Cookbook
which was published in 2004, by the Houghton Mifflin Company.
First, the recipe for the pastry dough:
Yield: Makes enough for a single crust 9-inch pie or 11-inch tart
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes.
To blend by hand:
In a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with remainder in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful: When it has proper texture it should hold together without crumbling apart. If necessary, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated, and test mixture again. (Do not overwork or add too much water; pastry will be tough.)
Turn mixture out onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of hand smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together and form it, rotating it on work surface, into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day.
Carmelized Upside-Down Pear Tart
Yield: Makes 8 servings
4 large firm-ripe Bosc pears (2 pounds total)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel and halve pears, the core (preferably with a melon-ball cutter).
Heat butter in a 9- to 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then stir in sugar (sugar will not be dissolved).
Arrange pears, cut sides up, in skillet with wide parts at rim of skillet. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and cook, undisturbed, until sugar turns a deep golden caramel.
(This can take as little as 10 minutes or as much as 25, depending on pears, skillets, and stove.) Cool pears completely in skillet.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and trim to a 9 1/2- to 10 1/2-inch round. Arrange pastry over caramelized pears, tucking edge around pears inside rim of skillet. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes.
Invert a rimmed serving plate (slightly larger than skillet) over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto plate. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.