Today’s post is a very simple but delicious dessert I whipped up recently while staying with friends in Brussels. And boy, do I mean simple.
For regular readers, this might look rather similar to something I posted last year using some luscious crimson Victoria plums. And you would be right! But this time, I replaced the plums with pears, and glazed it with maple syrup rather than honey. I went for maple syrup for no other reason than it was to hand, in a one-litre bottle. Yup, people really do buy it in those quantities, even in Europe.
So just how simple is this? Well, think about it element by element.
The pastry? Rich butter puff pastry…but we got that from a shop, and it was handily already rolled out into a thin disc. Result!
The filling? Ripe pears, just peeled, sliced and artfully arranged on the pastry.
And to finish? A mixture of butter, maple syrup and mixed spice(*), melted together and brushed over the tart. Then it was a light sprinkling with sugar, bake, and that’s it. All in all, this took about 15 minutes to make.
That would be, 15 minutes to make not including time for me to stab my hand with a sharp knife while chatting. I had just finished slicing the pears and arranging them on the tart, and then I genuinely have no idea how this happened. All I know is that it was quick, painful and dramatic. There was a shocked gasp from the next room. Are you alright? I was indeed alright, but the sympathy soon evaporated as the others realised that the tart was quite unaffected by all this, and I was dispatched to a kitchen stool with a glass of wine, instructing someone else to finish the tart. Lesson learned!
To serve, I would not produce this straight from the oven. Rather, either enjoy it while just warm, or at room temperature, with a generous dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Simple, but delicious and just a little bit classy.
(*) We used a Belgian spice mixture called speculaaskruiden (spek-oo-lass-krow-den) in Dutch or épices à spéculoos in French. It’s a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper. However, mixed spice or even Christmas Lebkuchengewürz can be used instead.
To make maple-glazed pear tart:
• 1 packet ready-rolled puff pastry (all butter) (approx. 200g)
• 5-6 ripe pears
• 25g butter
• 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
• pinch of mixed spice
• 1 tablespoon caster sugar, to sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
Place the pastry on a baking sheet. Use your fingers to crimp the edges.
Peel the pears. Cut into quarters, remove the seeds and core, plus any stalk fibres, then cut into slices. Arrange the slices in an overlapping and artistic pattern on the pastry, pushing them slightly into the pastry.
To make the glaze, put the butter, maple syrup and mixed spice in a saucepan. Heat until just melted, then brush it over the pears. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
Bake the tart for around 20 minutes until the pastry is golden at the edges and the pears are just browning (you might need longer, depending on your oven).
Worth making? This is one of the quickest, simplest desserts you can make, and it’s easy to do with things in the cupboard, fridge and the fruit bowl. It’s also easy to change depending on what you’ve got to hand.