This is our last official week of cooking with I Heart Cooking Clubs' featured chef Donna Hay. I welcomed her with an appetizer, so what better way to say goodbye than with a fabulous dessert. For this very special occasion, I made a very special Maple Pear Tarte Tatin.
I chose this particular recipe since this month happens to coincide with our maple sugaring season, which began late this year because of the unseasonably cold weather. But with the recent thaw, the sap was running freely last week in southern Ontario and Quebec and there's hope that this year's yield of liquid gold will be better than last when the winter was too warm!
I'd never made a tarte
tatin before this, a French pastry that could best be described as an upside down pie. Before assembling and baking the tart, the fruit filling was partially cooked in caramel, for this recipe, a maple caramel made by reducing maple syrup and a little butter. Donna's recipe makes a dessert for 2 people; I needed it to serve at least 5 so I used a 30cm cast iron pan, doubled the maple syrup and butter and used 4 medium pears, peeled, cored and quartered. Puff pastry was rolled out and used as a lid for the partially cooked fruit. I used the recipe amount (375g) of this homemade quick puff pastry and rolled it thinner than specified since I prefer a higher fruit to crust ratio.
Since it became the base of the tart and needed to contain all of the juice-infused caramel and pears, I made sure to tuck it in around the fruit before baking. Once the pastry was puffed, golden brown and crisp and the fruit tender, it was time to remove it from the oven and invert the tart with all of its fruit and hot
caramel goodness onto a serving plate.
It was fabulous served warm on its own.......
.....but a little vanilla ice cream didn't hurt ;)!
The recipe for Maple Pear Tarte Tatin is from Donna's book Seasons but can also be found here.
I'd never made any of Donna's recipes before starting this IHCC challenge, but I quickly learned to appreciate her approach to food, selecting a few choice ingredients that transform a simple recipe from the mundane into something memorable. I've acquired 2 of her books during these last 6 months: Seasons and fast, fresh, simple which haven't yet made it onto a shelf they get used so often! We start cooking with Nigel Slater next month, but I won't be abandoning Donna any time soon.