I’ve been busy in the test kitchen developing holiday entertaining recipes for a client, and today I’d like to share a savory tart with you. The components can be prepared ahead of time (the pastry pre-baked), later assembled and baked just before serving. High-quality puff pastry can be found in the freezer section of the grocery store, and bakes up into a flaky, buttery tart base. The toppings are a combination of four autumnal ingredients: slow-cooked caramelized onions for rich sweetness, thyme contributes a woodsy note, and Bosc pears, a baking fruit with crisp, juicy texture, combine beautifully with the nutty, sharp flavor of aged cheddar. Slice the tart into squares and serve it at casual gatherings with cocktails, beers, or mulled wine. It’s a delicious small bite that “tastes like more” as the husband would say.
To everyone on the East coast, you’re in our thoughts and prayers. We hope you stay safe and warm through this crazy snowstorm.
Pear, Cheddar, and Caramelized Onion Tart
Makes 1 tart, approximately 11-by-14 inches, which can be sliced into 12 squares
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 yellow onions
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 sheet frozen (all butter) puff pastry (from a 14-ounce package), thawed according to package instructions
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 ripe Bosc pear, peeled, cored, and chopped into ½- inch chunks
- 2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Caramelize the onions. Melt the butter in a heavy pot or large, high-sided skillet. Prepare the onions by halving them lengthwise and then cutting into ¼ inch thick slices. Toss the onions into the pot with the salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and add the sugar. Monitor the pot, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions from burning while they caramelize. After about 20 minutes, the onions will take on a glazed appearance and turn dark brown in color. Remove the onions from the skillet and place on a plate to cool. The onions can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container.
Bake the pastry. Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the puff pastry and unfold it on a floured work area. Working quickly (the high butter content of the pastry will begin to melt in a warm kitchen), gently roll out the pastry to an 11-by-16-inch rectangle (or to fit inside your baking sheet). Transfer the pastry to the baking sheet and prick all over with a fork, excluding a ½-inch border around the perimeter. Bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan once, until golden brown and firm and dry to the touch. Check the pastry after five minutes baking in the oven. If it is puffed up, pierce with a fork to allow the steam to escape and continue baking. Once the pastry is finished baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Assemble the tart. Scatter ½ cup cheese over the baked pastry, topped with the caramelized onions and then the pears. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese as well as the thyme leaves. Bake the tart at 375°F for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serve the tart warm, sliced into 12 squares.