These Fresh Pear and Dried Cranberry Tarts are so easy to make using prepared puff pastry. I love the combination of the buttery crust along with sweet sliced fresh pears, tangy dried cranberries, toasted nuts, and cinnamon. These tarts make a great dessert for a dinner party since they can be prepped in advance and then just need to be popped in the oven when dinner is served They are best served warm with optional vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.
Why I Love Making Easy Fresh Pear and Dried Cranberry Tarts
It's coming into the winter months and most of my summer fruit is gone for another year. It's time for fall/winter fruit. Apples, pears, persimmons, cranberries. These simple tarts highlight winter fruit and fill the house with the smells of autumn, at the same time.
I also love the fact that they can be assembled ahead of time, then just pop into the oven for about 20 minutes and be ready to serve, warm, 10 minutes later. Perfect for company, perfect for family, perfect for the holidays.
Did I say easy? Quick? Delicious? Yes, I did. And here is how to make them
Ingredients and Substitutions
To make these easy tarts you will need:
- Frozen puff pastry sheets, preferably full butter. You could make your own. There are recipes for puff pastry out there, but it is time-consuming so that would eliminate the "quick and easy" part of this dessert.
- 6 cups, approximately, of peeled, cored, sliced fresh pears. I used a combination of bosc and red Anjou pears. You could use all Bosc, but I wouldn't use all Anjou. Or try half pear and half apple such as Granny Smith.
- Dried Cranberries. You could substitute dried tart cherries. If using cherries, give them a little chop as they will be much larger than the cranberries.
- Nuts. I used walnuts in my recipe. You could substitute pecans, or almonds with good results. Whichever nut you use ALWAYS toast them before adding them.
- Sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, butter.
What is the best pear to use for these easy tarts?
While you could use any variety of pears, the Bosc and Anjou pears will hold their form best.
Other types of pear, such as the common Bartlett pear will taste great but will turn mushier while cooking. If you don't mind a bit more mushy, then they are a tasty choice.
How to pick out and ripen the BEST pears
Pears do grow on trees, but they don't ripen on the tree. Just like avocados, they are harvested when mature but ripen after they are picked. So 90% of all pears you will find in a store will be not only unripe but hard.
- First, you want to pick the best-looking pear no matter the variety, look for pears that are smooth-skinned and without any noticeable blemishes or bruises.
- Look for fruit that is not soft or mushy. A pear is ripe when the stem end, when pushed very softly, has some give. The rest of the fruit should be firm, without any give.
- If your pear is not fully ripe, and as I said, it probably won't be, then you can put it on the kitchen counter and give it a few days to get ripe. You can also hasten the ripening process by putting the pear(s) in a paper bag along with an apple or banana. The ethanol gas from these fruits helps with a faster ripening time.
- A ripe pear will smell...like a pear.
Do I have to use pears for this recipe?
As I said in the list of ingredients, no, you don't. You could use all or some apples with very good results. Again, pick good baking apples so they hold their form. Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp. If you decide to use some apples, cut them the same size as the pears. I would also peel and core them.
Step by Step Instructions
Start with the pears...
- Use a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler to peel the pears. Not all the skin needs to be removed, but more is better than less.
- Cut into halves and remove the core. I find a melon baller works well for this task.
- Slice the pears into about ¼ inch thick slices, then put them into a bowl along with the dried cranberries, toasted nuts, 2 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and lemon juice. Mix well.
What's up with a "pinch of salt"?
One great lesson I learned from chefs is, that whenever making a sweet dish, always add a pinch of salt as the salt will bring out the complexity in the flavors. Just a pinch, not to make it salty, just to enhance the natural sweetness.
So whenever you make brownies? Add a pinch of salt and the chocolate will taste chocolatey. A pinch of sugar on your fruit will make the fruit flavors more pronounced.
So add a "pinch"
Now move on to the tarty tart part
- Roll the puff pasty out on a well-floured surface to be about ⅛ inch thick.
- Using a 6-inch round plate as a guide, use a sharp paring knife to cut around the plate to make a 6-inch disk.
- With a fork, prick the dough in the center of the dough leaving at least a ½-inch rim. The hole pricking will keep that part of the puff pastry from puffing. Not puffing keeps your filling in the center of your tart. Leaving the edges unpricked allows it to puff. That's what you want.
- Place the discs onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Divide your filling between your puff pasty disks up to the unpricked part.
- Place the baking sheet(s) into the lower half of your preheated oven and cook from 20 to 22 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and the pastry has puffed.
Warning - Not all ovens cook the same
Even when set at the same temperature, ovens vary in actual temperature. Unless you are using a thermometer in the actual oven, you will have slight temperature differences.
Also, the type of oven you are using makes a difference.
You may notice the brown edges on these tarts.
While I don't mind a little crisp edge, you may prefer not to have them. Here is the difference in how I made these Fresh Pear and Dried Cranberry Tarts this time and in previous versions.
In my previous home, where I made these tarts often, I had a Jenn-Aire electric wall oven.
In my current home, I have a Frigidaire gas oven.
The heat source in an electric oven cooks from the top.
The heat source for a gas oven comes from the flame and cooks from the bottom.
So these tarts cooked with a more "direct" heat than did my previous ones. While I only cooked them to the 20-minute mark, the direct heat did influence how browned the edges got.
If you are cooking with "gas" in the oven, you may want to move them up to the middle of the oven and start checking them at about 18 minutes for browning.
If you have an electric oven, then follow the recipe as written, and start checking at the 20-minute mark.
More reasons to love these Quick Fresh Pear and Dried Cranberry Tarts
Everyone loves them.
When I have a dinner party, I like to make a lot of my food in advance so my kitchen, and house, are in order by the time my guests arrive. So while I'm slowcooking my German Style Beef Short Ribs or Hasenpheffer, or other long-cooked easily reheatable dinner, I can get these Fresh Pear Tarts ready for the oven. And the kitchen is clean!
They are great with coffee, tea, a sauturne, a late-harvest riesling, or even a glass of milk.
You can keep them simple with just a dusting of powdered sugar or make them impressive with ice cream or whipped cream.
Most of the sugar is natural sugar so they are fine for almost any diet that restricts sugars.
And did I mention, they are so darn tasty?
Other Tips for Making Fresh Pear Cranberry Tarts
- If making in advance, cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate until ready to cook. Be sure to remove the cover before cooking them!
- Make sure the oven is hot before putting the tarts in the oven.
- Brush the edges with melted butter. Lightly sugar them for some extra sweet crunch.
- If you have leftover tarts, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. After 2 days they would still be tasty, just not crunchy.
For more Fruit Based Desserts try one of these...
Quick and Easy Puff Pastry Fresh Pear and Dried Cranberry Tarts
- Rolling Pin
- Heavy cookie sheet(s)
- Parchment Paper
- 1 10-ounce package puff pastry dough thawed
- 2 large ripe, but firm Bosc pears peeled and sliced about ¼ inch thick
- 2 ripe, but firm, red Anjou pears peeled and sliced about ¼ inch this
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons toasted chopped walnut pieces or pecans, or sliced almond
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries or dried tart cherries, lightly chopped if using cherries
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Confectioner's sugar for dusting optionl
- Vanilla Ice Cream or whipped fresh cream optional
- Heat the oven to 450ºF(232.2ºC)Unfold the thawed sheets of puff pastry. Working with one sheet at a time, roll out on a well-floured surface to ⅛ inch thick. Using a 6-inch plate as a guide, cut our 2 rounds. Gather the remaining dough together, roll, and cut another 6-inch round. Repeat with the second sheet.
- Place the cut-out rounds of pastry onto a heavy baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use 2 baking sheets if necessary. With a fork, prick the centers of the rounds leaving about ¾-inch on the outside edge unpricked. (By pricking the inside, you prevent the puff pastry from puffing up and throwing the filling off.).
- Place the peeled, cored, and sliced pears into a large bowl. Toss with half the sugar (2 tablespoons), cinnamon, pinch of salt, and lemon juice. Add the dried cranberries, (or cherries), and nuts. Mix well, then divide evenly between the rounds, spreading the mixture up to the unpricked edge. Sprinkle with sugar then brush the edges with the melted butter.
- Bake in the lower half of the oven until the fruit is tender and the pastry is golden brown. Let cool slightly then serve with optional ingredients, if desired.