Friday, November 19, 2010

Part II - Vanilla Essence Pear & Cranberry Tarts using the Puff Pastry

Yesterday, I made up the Fast Puff Pastry recipe from King Arthur Flour.  The reviews on their blog were positive and I was anxious to try it out.  I've made puff pastry before and let me tell you, it takes time! This was so easy to make (just look back on yesterday's post) and the best thing is that you can freeze this dough for up to two months, which like the pie dough, will come in handy for last minute recipes.

Today, I decided to try a new combination for a dessert that, even if it doesn't show up on your Thanksgiving table, I would recommend as one that should be added to your autumnal recipe file.  Pears and cranberries were my choice for the filling of these tarts, and because I had just made last month, Vanilla Pear Jam, with the most aromatic Tahitian vanilla beans from Vanilla Matahiti, it was my choice today to enhance the flavors of both the pears and cranberries. 

My mother rarely varied the desserts for Thanksgiving dinner, however, I've always tried to do at least one thing new, but keeping with the standard--Pumpkin Pie, Pecan, and Mincemeat.

Vanilla Essence Pear & Cranberry Tarts
1 recipe of Fast Puff Pastry

2 Pears (I would have preferred Bosc, but only had Anjou today) peeled, cored and chopped
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit medley (optional)
1 Tahitian Vanilla Bean

1 egg yolk
2 T light cream

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 T unsaled butter, softened
1 tsp. Light Karo Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 -3 tsp. hot water'

In a 2 quart sauce pan, place pears and cranberries.  Add the sugar, water, and mixed dried, if using.
Use a small paring knife and slice one vanilla bean down the center. Scrape the beans from both sides and add to the mixture.  Toss the vanilla bean into the mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Lower to a simmer and add the dried fruit medley, if using.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool.  Remove the whole vanilla bean before spooning mixture onto the tart.
Remove puff pastry from refrigerator.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch.  Use a small knife to cut into squares.  Add two tablespoons of the filling in the middle of the square then, using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash mixture around the outer edges.  (This acts as the "glue" to hold the tart together.)
Fold the dough, point to point, forming a triangle, and press lightly around the edges.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a small fork to press around the edges to seal tightly, then, use a sharp knife, make a slit in the top for to release steam.
Continue making the tarts.  Once one pan is filled, preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator to chill while oven is preheating (approximately 15 minutes)  This step of refrigeration is necessary to chill the dough so when the hot oven hits the cold tart it creates the flakiness in the layers.  Bake 15-17 minutes, until brown and golden.  Repeat these steps for with the second pan of tarts.  This dough made 10 tarts.  I had about 1/2 cup of filling left, but plan on using it as a topping on my oatmeal tomorrow morning--Yum!

Note:  Tarts can be frozen before baking--flash freeze the tarts on the baking sheet and then, when they're firm, place in a freezer bag and bake at a later time.

Make up the glaze and spread onto the tarts.
You can just see the layers created by the the fastest way I've ever made puff pastry. Also, the pear & cranberry mixture was unbelievable and will be on our Thanksgiving menu this year.  This is definitely one dough I'll make up again and again and freeze.  Enjoy!

One last note...Tomorrow evening I will be doing the Holiday Give-Away, so if you want a chance to win the apron and other surprises, you need to POST.


  1. Susan those looks DIVINE!!!!!
    But I am afraid of dough!! It never works for me :(

  2. Pear and cranberry sounds great together. Another combination I'd love to try.

  3. Allison, don't be afraid with this dough...super, super easy and it really does turn out great!

  4. well i just woke up and i find myself wishing for just a little bite in the photo above! actually, i wouldn't have a problem finishing a whole one! ; ) these look amazing susan, the pear is such a surprise just like the jam that is incredible! i love the hint of vanilla xoxo

  5. I have been anxiously awaiting the "Quick Puff Pastry" tarts. And what could be better than the combination of pears and cranberries with vanilla essence!! I would never have spent all day making puff pastry----very intimidating and labor intensive. But, this recipe looks very easy----and I think even I could do it!! Love & Hugs, Barb

  6. oh man oh man. Those tarts look good. I bet that vanilla really adds alot. The pear jam was excellent and the vanilla really gave it depth.

  7. I'm with Nicole..I was looking at the screen wishing I could have a bite. I am definately making these. Yum!