Pear Tarte Tatin with Red Wine Caramel


Fresh pears and spiced red wine caramel make this dessert stand out, while store-bought puff pastry makes it easy to prepare.

Pear Tarte Tatin with Red-Wine Caramel
Photo: © John Kernick
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs
8 to 10

Tarte Tatin is a French dessert named for Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin, who created it at the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France, in the 1880s. It is said to have been an accident to cook the tart upside down, but it was well-received by the hotel guests and became a classic.

For traditional tarte Tatin, apples are cooked in a skillet in butter and sugar until they caramelize, then topped with pastry and baked. You invert the skillet after baking the pastry to serve this upside-down tart. In this recipe, chef Shawn McClain uses pears; make sure you use firm pears, so they do not break down and turn to mush as they cook. He cooks the pears in a syrup made with cinnamon-spiced red wine, and serves it with crème fraîche for a tangy, creamy contrast. It's a sophisticated take on a classic recipe, and one that makes this tarte Tatin worthy of a special occasion dinner or holiday dessert buffet.


  • 2 cups dry red wine

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon pear liqueur (optional)

  • 5 firm, ripe Bartlett pears—peeled, cored and halved

  • One 14-ounce sheet all-butter puff pastry, chilled

  • Crème fraîche, for serving


  1. In a small saucepan, boil wine with the cinnamon sticks over moderately high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks.

  2. In a 12-inch skillet, combine sugar and water. Cook over moderately high heat, swirling pan occasionally, until a light-amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add red wine syrup along with butter and liqueur and cook to dissolve hardened caramel, about 1 minute. Add pear halves to skillet and cook over low heat, turning occasionally, until pears are tender and pan juices are syrupy, about 20 minutes. Arrange pears cut side up in skillet with thin ends pointing toward center. Let cool for 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry to a 13-inch square. Using a skillet lid as a template, cut pastry into a 12-inch round. Cut four 2-inch-long steam vents in pastry and lay it over pears, tucking edges into skillet. Bake until pastry is deeply golden and risen, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let tart cool in the skillet for 10 minutes, then very carefully invert tart onto a large plate or platter. Cut into wedges and serve with crème fraîche.

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