Pear Pomegranate Tarte Tatin
I'm dying to go apple and pear picking. I've decided that it is fall and my mind has shifted to the autumnal fruit. Well, there is nowhere to pick yet, so I went to the co-op and bought some seckel pears, from who knows where? I like to bake with seckels because they are very firm, which means you can cook them in the caramel longer and they don't turn to mush. It is also the season for one of my favorite treats, the pomegranate. It is one of those foods that is more about the experience than the flavor. Don't get me wrong, I love the taste, but the fun is picking the seeds out and biting into their tart juices. My boys love them too, because they are a serious mess. I send them out onto the back steps and they eat, with the red juices flying everywhere. The tartness of the pomegranate is a perfect match for the sweet caramel and the mellow flavor of the seckel pears. I throw in a cinnamon stick and that is that. Here is the recipe: 1/2 stick of butter 3/4 cups sugar 1 cinnamon stick 4-6 seckel pears, depending on the size. Cored and cut in half. 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional) I disk of pastry dough (brioche dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, tart dough, pie dough or puff pastry will work well) In a cast iron skillet melt the butter, then sprinkle the sugar over it. Drop the cinnamon stick in the middle then arrange the pears, cut side up in the sugar. Cook on low heat until the pears start to absorb the caramel and the juices are bubbling around them. I like to cook them slowly and for a while so the pears take on as much caramel as possible. My stove is really intense so I have to move the pears around so they are getting cooked evenly. This usually takes about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the pears. If you are using a softer pear it will go much faster. Just keep an eye on them. Preheat the oven to 350° (If you are using puff pastry turn the heat up to 375°)* Once the pears are coloring nicely and the caramel is bubbling turn off the stove and let them cool for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the top and drape a circle of dough over the pears. The dough should be about 1" beyond the edge of the pears. Some doughs, especially puff pastry, will shrink as it bakes, so you want to make sure you have plenty to cover the pears. Place the entire skillet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is nice and golden brown. Allow the tart to cool int he skillet for about 5 minutes and then invert it onto a serving platter. Make sure the platter is larger than the skillet so that when you flip it all of the hot caramel juices don't spill out. Needless to say this should be served with something nice and creamy. I served it with unadorned creme fraiche, but vanilla ice cream would be excellent as well. *Update on my oven fiasco. The warranty ran out two weeks before it blew up! Isn't that just a kicker. My husband has replaced the heating element, with no success. He then took the entire double wall oven unit out of the wall, no small feat, and tried to check the wiring. That made me VERY nervous. The upshot is that the top unit still doesn't work! SCREAM! Just in case you are remodeling and looking for an oven, get the extended warranty and think twice about the Frigidaire. I loved it up until this, but this is a major drag. BTW, do you twitter? If so, let me know and come check out my tweets!