Caramelized Pear Tart

CARAMELIZED PEAR TART

This fabulous dessert makes the end of summer and the arrival of pear season more bearable. It is easy, delicious and looks exceptionally glamorous.

4 large firm-ripe Bosc pears (2 lb total) *
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pastry dough

Peel and halve pears, then core (a spoon or melon baller works well for this). Heat butter in a 9- to 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then stir in sugar (sugar will not be dissolved). Arrange pears, cut sides up, in skillet with wide parts at rim of skillet. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and cook, undisturbed, until sugar turns a deep golden caramel. (This can take as little as 10 minutes or as much as 25, depending on pears, skillets, and stove.) Cool pears completely in skillet. (This part can be done early in the day.)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and trim to a 9 1/2- to 10 1/2-inch round. Arrange pastry over caramelized pears, tucking edge around pears inside rim of skillet. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes.

Invert a rimmed serving plate (slightly larger than skillet) over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto plate. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.

*You can also substitute with tart apples, such as Pippins or Granny Smiths
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
11 medium-size Pippin apples (about 4 3/4 pounds), peeled, quartered, cored
Place the apples on their sides, as close together as possible. Follow the directions for the pear dish.

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