Words and Photos by Marissa Wu
I’ve got a butter article in the works -- yep, you read that right. An article about butter -- specifically French butter. But, as it’s still in development, I offer you this recipe for Tarte aux Poires.
If I’ve gleaned anything from my approximately two months in France, it’s that the tarte is one of the national desserts. And if it’s not, then it’s darn close. I think what draws people to it is the simplicity with which everything comes together. Take your pick of fruit: usually apples or pears or another wild filling (Nutella, anyone?) and throw it into a pre-made pâte feuilleté. Dot with butter (or pour on some browned butter), sprinkle with turbinado, brown, or granulated sugar, and bake. It’s glorious.
You know what else is glorious? Puff pastry costs approximately one dollar in France. This makes me want to weep when I look for Pepperidge Farms puff pastry in my local grocery store, because it’s usually $3.99. It’s no wonder the tarte is almost a national dessert; the French have easy access to delicious, pre-made crust. If it were that cheap in the U.S., I guarantee you I’d be serving tarte aux everything to my friends every weekend. Alas, it’s not the case.
So, if for the weekend you feel like splurging on puff pastry and some gorgeous apples (AKA the unofficial fruit of fall) or pears, here is a recipe for tarte aux poires. The beauty here is that you can swap it out for any fruit. Pears, apples, even apricots (which seem to be quite popular in France). Have at it!
- 2 large or 3 medium/small pears (make sure to buy firm ones)
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar (any listed above are fine)
- butter (for dotting on top or browning)
- 1 sheet of puff pastry (pre-made or make your own)
- Take out your puff pastry to thaw, if necessary.
- Wash and (optional) peel your pears. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice into ½ centimeter (or less) slices.
- Flour a surface and roll out your puff pastry to fit a 10- or 11- inch tart pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and place the puff pastry inside.
- Following the directions on the package, preheat your oven. If you made your own puff pastry, preheat to 400ºF.
- Layer the pears onto the pastry. Generously dot with butter or pour on the browned butter. Sprinkle on the sugar -- as little or as much as you’d like. (I tend to be over-zealous with this step.)
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until the crust is a deep golden brown and the butter is bubbling. The fruit should color a bit, too. Cool for 15 minutes and then serve.