Pear Tart Tatin with Maple Walnut and Sour Cherry Compote, Roasted Caramel Pears, and Maple Ice Cream
A rosette of pear slices shows through the caramel tops of these tatins, served on cherry sauce with maple-glazed walnuts with maple ice cream. The desserts are the essence of fall, combining deep caramel and cherry colors with fall fruit. All the way through this recipe, Chef Snyder gives directions based on her experience as a chef: using 3 or 4 pears for the tatins, depending upon their size; getting the “wet sand” texture to start the sugar for the caramel, testing the pears until they reach the right degree of “doneness,” for example. While recipes strive to reduce the chef’s experience to precise measurements and times, her directions show that in many cases the precision is in the mind and experience of the chef, not the measuring cup or timer.
- Maple-glazed Walnuts
- Walnuts - 2 cups
- Maple Syrup - 1/4 cup
- Salt - 1 tablespoon
- Sugar - 1 tablespoon
- Caramel Sauce
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Pears - 3 to 4, depending on size, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
- Puff Pastry Circles - 4
- Caramelized Pears
- Pears - 2, halved lengthwise and cored
- Granulated sugar
- Cherry Compote Sauce
- Dried Sour Cherries - 2 cups
- Maple Syrup - 2 cups
- Orange Juice - 2 cups
- Water - 2 cups
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Vanilla bean - 1, split
- Maple ice cream - 4 scoops, shaped into quenelles
To prepare the walnuts: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat. Pour the nuts onto a baking sheet, separating them, and toast until they have taken on a light color, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Set aside.
To make the caramel: Place the sugar in a heavy saucepan. Add about 1 tablespoon of water to the sugar and stir until it resembles wet sand; add more water if necessary to obtain this texture. Place the pot over high heat and let the sugar cook without stirring until it caramelizes and turns deep amber color. During the heating process, brush away any crystals which form on the sides of the pan with a damp brush. Remove from heat. Very slowly pour in the cream, stirring with a whisk; the hot caramel will bubble up and spatter as the cream is added. Put the mixture back over medium heat and bring back to a boil. Take off the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
To prepare the tatins: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray four 4-ounce disposable aluminum ramekins or similar ramekins with non-stick spray and place on a baking sheet. Drop approximately 2 tablespoons of warm caramel in the bottom of each ramekin. Arrange pear slices on top of the caramel, overlapping the first layer against the caramel in a rosette design. Fill each ramekin almost to the top. Fit a pastry circle on top of the pear slices on each ramekin, tucking in the sides. Bake about 30 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Turn the baking sheet once during baking to assure even baking. Remove from the oven; let cool to room temperature.
To prepare the caramelized pears: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Pour sugar into a plate, making about a 1/4-inch-deep layer. Place the pears, cut-side down, in the sugar. Put a flat saute pan over high heat and allow the pan to get hot. Place the pears, sugar-side down, in the pan and cook until the pears are amber colored on the bottom. Flip the pears, gently place them in a roasting pan, and pour in 1/4 cup of water. Sprinkle the pears lightly with sugar, cover, and roast until tender. Roasting time depends on the ripeness of the pears; a ripe Bartlett takes about 10 minutes, a Bosc can take close to 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick from time to time and remove when tender.
To prepare the compote: Place all ingredients except the vanilla bean in a non-aluminum saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and drop in the pods. Bring to a boil to plump the cherries. Pour through a strainer, reserving both cherries and the cooking liquid. Pick out the vanilla bean pods. Return the liquid to the pan and continue to cook to reduce until thick and syrupy. Remove from heat.
To serve: Warm the tatins in a 350 F oven for 5 minutes. Swirl a little cherry sauce on each dessert plate. Unmold a tatin on each plate, anchoring it in the sauce. Lean a glazed pear against each tatin. Divide the remaining cherry compote among the plates and mound beside the tatins. Add a quenelle of maple ice cream to each plate.