This is such a simple dessert. Puff pastry and fruit. That's it.
Of course you can dress it up a bit in any number of ways. But if you didn't, the buttery flaky puff pastry and sweet ripe fruit would hardly be a disappointment in itself. On the other hand, there's certainly no harm in sprucing it up.
Like maybe you can poach some pears in a sweet red wine syrup and let them marinade in the red wine syrup for a few days in the refrigerator.
Then cut some squares of puff pastry out, slice up the poached pears and place them on top of the pastry and bake them. It's still pretty uncomplicated--assuming you have some readily available puff pastry.
I like that it's not too sweet either. Buttery? You betcha. But not that sweet because the sweetness really just comes from the fruit and the syrup that the pears are poached in.
I might even go as far as designating this is a healthy dessert. But I won't. Because it's really not healthy--I mean there's a lot of butter in that puff pastry. So it's not healthy--but it's damn good.
2-2 1/2 pounds puff pastry dough
4 medium red wine poached pears (recipe follows)
1/4c of granulated sugar
1 egg and 1 tsp of water for the egg wash
For the red wine poached pears:
2 1//2c dry red wine--I used a cabernet
1/4c granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of cloves
4 firm medium pears peeled--ripe but still fairly firm
Using a 3 quart saucepan, combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves. Place the saucepan on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Once it has come to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and gently add the pears. Cook the pears for 15-20 minutes in the simmering liquid--turning the pears every so often so that each pear is evenly cooked and colored by the red wine poaching liquid. Make sure not to overcook the pears so that they are still firm once they are evenly colored. If at any point they seem to be getting mushy, remove the pears and poaching liquid from the heat. In any case, once they are fully cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat, place the pears so that they are sitting upright in the pan and let them cook completely. After the pears have cooled, place them and all of the poaching liquid in an airtight container, cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3-4 days.
When the pears have sat in the poaching liquid for at least 24 hours, get ready to bake the tarts. First, line two large baking sheets with either silicone baking mats or parchment paper and set them aside. Then, on a well floured surface roll out the puff pastry into at least an 8 inch wide by 16 inch long by 1/8 inch thick rectangle. Cut eight 4 inch by 4 inch rectangles out of the larger rectangle and place four of them on one baking sheet and the other four on the other baking sheet. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator while you get the pears ready. Next, slice each pear into 1/8 inch thick slices--discarding any of the core pieces. Once that's done place oven racks in the lower and upper third sections of your oven and preheat it to 450 F. Remove the baking sheets from the refrigerator, distribute the pear slices evenly between the eight pastry squares and arrange them in any way you prefer. After the pears slices have been arranged, sprinkle the sugar over each tart. Then, in a small bowl whisk together the egg and water. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the exposed pastry that borders the fruit--not the sides of it. Finally, place one baking sheet in the upper and one in the lower rack. Bake them for 20 minutes at 450 F switching the two baking sheets between the two racks after the first 10 minutes. After the first 20 minutes of baking, decrease the oven temperature to 400 F, switch the baking sheets again between the two racks and bake them for another 20 minutes switching the baking sheets between the two racks one more time halfway through the second 20 minute period. Confused? Well, just switch up the baking sheets every once in a while to ensure that they bake evenly since they are on separate oven racks. Anyway, after a total cooking time of 40 minutes remove the baking sheets from the oven and let them cool completely. Enjoy.