Something heavy beckoned to me from the toe of my Christmas stocking. We had exchanged them early, in hopes we could enjoy our gifts before our trip to the States. What could this solid, heavy object be? I drew it out, and a small jar of jam appeared. Pear, pomegranate, and calvados. Eureka!
I use the same pastry here as for my Provençal Butternut Squash Rugelach. With equal parts cream cheese and butter, and richened with crème fraîche and an egg yolk, it gives a flavorful and slightly flaky, yet quickly assembled, alternative to store-bought puff pastry.
57 g (2 oz) cold cream cheese
57 g (1/4 cup) cold salted butter
90 g (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
40 g (2 tablespoons) crème fraîche
1 egg yolk
40g (about 3 tablespoons) salted butter
85 g (6 tablespoons) white sugar
2 Asian pears, peeled, cored, and quartered
30 ml (2 tablespoons) calvados
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Prepare your pastry by putting the flour in a mixing bowl and adding the butter and cream cheese in small chunks. Pinch the butter and cheese into the flour with your fingertips until it starts to come together. Whisk together the crème fraîche and egg yolk, then add to flour mixture. Toss with your fingertips, then press together until you can form a ball. Remove to a sheet of plastic wrap and form a disk. Stick it in the freezer while you prepare your filling.
Preheat the oven to 205C/400F.
The pictures show a 20cm (8in) pan.
In an 18-25 cm (7-10 in) ovenproof, stainless steel pan, melt butter with sugar over high heat, stirring often, until brown and bubbly. After about 3 minutes it will start to bubble and foam; after about 5 minutes it will begin to brown. At about 8 minutes, it should be very brown; add pears at this point, and arrange them in a single layer. Some of the sugar with harden a bit when you add the pears, especially if they’re cold, but don’t worry. Just keep agitating the pears occasionally, stirring carefully, until the sugar starts to melt again. As it melts and gets more brown, stir more often, flipping the pears and allowing them to caramelize slightly as their juices mix with the sugar. When the mixture has reached a deep brown, add the calvados (it will bubble and steam!). Let this simmer for one minute, then remove it from the heat, allowing it to cool a bit.
Roll out your dough in a rough circle about 2.5 cm (1 in) bigger all around than your pan (a 5cm/2in difference in diameter). Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the pears, then place the dough over the top, tucking the edges down around the pears. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove the tarte from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert your serving plate on top of the pan, then carefully holding the plate and pan together, flip them over. Remove the pan. If any pears or seeds stick, put them back in place on the tarte. Serve warm or at room temperature. It will keep at room temperature overnight, but is best served the day of making.