Keeping puff pastry on hand in the freezer is something that I recommend for every home cook. It's just so versatile and easy to use. It can be used to create both sweet and savory dishes. The puffy, flaky, buttery layers present so beautifully. And, the results are always delicious and crowd-pleasing. Guests think you've invested a great amount of time in preparation, but the truth is that working with store-bought puff pastry is almost effortless and very uncomplicated. With this recipe, I've taken a sheet of puff pastry, brushed it with perfectly-spiced and sweetened butter, lined it with thinly-cut pear slices and baked it to perfection.
Something truly magical happens during the baking process. The butter mixture becomes almost caramel-like, the pear slivers soften up beautifully, the juices from the pears slightly release to help flavor the tart and the dough puffs up all around the fruit so stunningly.
This can be enjoyed as a dessert or even with coffee in the morning. For dessert, I recommend serving this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream or even a light dusting of powdered sugar.
This would be a pretty dessert to grace your holiday table this year, too. And, know that you could easily make this into 4 - 6 individual tarts simply by cutting the pastry into small squares prior to topping and baking.
Note that the pear slices can be arranged however you prefer. You can do basic, straight lines of pears or switch it up and do a more-rustic, varying pattern as I have done.
Serves 4 - 6.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (but still cold)
Flour, for dusting work surface
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon good-quality pure vanilla extract
2 large pears or 3 - 4 small pears, cores/stems removed and very thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon sanding sugar or similar coarse-style sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
On a clean, lightly-floured work surface, open the thawed sheet of dough and lightly dust the top of dough with flour. Gently roll the dough with a rolling pin just to smooth it out. (You're not looking to really increase the size of the dough or thin it out.)
Transfer dough to sheet pan. Combine the butter, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a small bowl. Brush 2/3 of the butter mixture evenly across all of the dough - even to the edges. Arrange pear slices as desired onto puff pastry - leaving a 3/4" border around edges uncovered by fruit. (Slices can be pressed with palm of hand on cutting board first to "fan" them out prior to transferring and arranging on dough.)
Brush remaining 1/3 of butter mixture evenly atop pear slices. Evenly sprinkle sugar on pear slices.
Bake for 16 - 20 minutes or until pastry is puffed around edges and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow tart to slightly cool - roughly ten minutes - prior to slicing and serving.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or a sprinkling of powdered sugar, if desired.
Store leftovers loosely wrapped in parchment paper on counter for up to twenty-four hours.
Adapted from Fork Knife Swoon.