Ripe pears, tart cranberries, and a dusting of cinnamon all brought together by a simple custard. It’s time to put a pear cranberry tart on your to-do list!
Right now summer fruits are rather pallid (unless you get lucky) and the citrus is just starting to arrive, but we have lots of pears. Different colors and sizes and shapes. All of which get me wanting to do more than just slice them and eat them. It’s time to bake!
I first made this pear tart years ago. Wrote down what I did and then put the recipe away to be rediscovered from time to time when I wanted something different from my usual desserts. Along the way I added cranberries to provide a POP of color and flavor and it became a cranberry pear tart.
While the cranberries aren’t strictly necessary, I love the contrast and how pretty the tart is with them in the mix. No cranberries? Try raspberries! You won’t get that tartness, but it will be just as pretty.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a piece of pear tart and a cup of coffee to attend to. A perfect way to end a chilly December day. Oooh, and maybe a dollop of whipped cream! Can’t go wrong with that.
– Happy Baking, Annemarie
Italian Pear Cranberry Tart
- 1 11 inch sweet pastry crust, preferably using pasta frolla pastry dough
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp honey, divided
- 1 1/2 lb (2-3 large) ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp superfine flour, such as Wondra
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325F. Pull out your nonstick 11-inch tart pan.
- Take the disc of pastry dough out of the refrigerator and let it warm up until it is cool but pliable. On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry dough until it is large enough to fill the tart pan. Rotate your dough frequently as you work so that it forms an even circle. Transfer the dough to your tart pan and gently press it into the corners and sides. Run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to cut off the extra dough. (Alternatively, press the dough into the pan in an even layer instead of rolling it out.)
- Line the dough filled pan with heavy duty aluminum foil so that the foil overhangs the pan. Fill the foil with pie weights or dried beans and bake the tart crust for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and pie weights (set them aside to cool) and bake the tart crust for another 15 minutes, until lightly browned all over.
- While the tart crust is baking, make the filling.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add 1 tablespoon of the honey and swirl it in until it melts into the butter. Add the pear slices and and saute them until they are just getting soft. If you are using ripe but firm pears this will take about 3-4 minutes. For riper pears, you may only need to saute them 1 minute.
- Arrange the pear slices in concentric circles in the tart crust. Start along the outer edge, slightly overlap the slices as you go. I use the long slices for the outer circle and use the smaller slices for the inner circle. Scatter the cranberries over the pears.
- Whisk together the remaining tablespoon of honey, heavy cream, egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Sprinkle the flour over the custard and whisk it in. Pour the custard evenly into the tart and then sprinkle the cinnamon over the top. Give the tart a shake to remove any bubbles and put the tart in the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the filling is firm and slightly puffed.
- Let the tart cool to room temperature, then carefully remove the tart from the pan and put it on a serving dish. If the tart shell is sticking a bit, gently loosen it from the pan. Tart can be made 1 day ahead.
- Pears: I like Bartlett pears for this recipe. Whatever pears you use, once you peel the pears, cut them in half and scoop out the core then lay them flat side down on the cutting board to slice them the long way.
- Flour: If you don't have superfine flour, you can put all-purpose flour into a fine mesh strainer and dust it over the custard. This helps keep the flour from clumping when you whisk it.
- Crust: For the crust, I use half a recipe of pasta frolla with orange zest as the citrus zest in the crust. I find this dough easy to roll so I roll it out; however, you can also press the dough into the tart pan.
- Equipment: You will need an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
- No fresh cranberries? Switch to raspberries and continue with the recipe as written.
- Pie Weights: I use dried beans as pie weights. They are cheap, easy to buy, and you can use them over and over. I've used the same beans for well over a decade.