Attending a French culinary school, learning how to make puff pastry was a huge focus for us. We always had to have some handy just in case we might need it on any given day. I would often walk in in the morning and see my classmates rushing around with sticks of butter and rolling pins, trying to make their first turns of the dough, because they had forgotten they ran out the day before. I will never forget the first time we made it and how hard the chef was on all of us. Does a book fold from top to bottom (you're supposed to fold the dough like a book)?! This is what happens when the butter and the dough are too soft! Now what are you going to do?! Haha fun times! But I have to say that learning to make puff pastry was definitely one of the highlights of school and something I'm very proud to know how to do. Does that mean I always have some handy at home and never buy the pre-made stuff? Absolutely not! It's so easy to buy the ready made pastry at the store that I usually have some sitting in my freezer.
There is something about that soft flaky crust that simultaneously makes me feel at home and like I'm sitting in a cafe somewhere in France. There are so many quick and easy desserts, among other things, that can be made from puff pastry. One of my favorites is this little tart that literally takes minutes to put together and throw in the oven. It's very versatile and perfect for when you need a quick fix dessert for dinner or even as party food. You can use pears, apples or even nectarines and top with sugar, cinnamon, or any other spices. I love to put a glaze on mine at the end but you could also drizzle some melted chocolate on top as well. Yum! This would be great served with ice cream too. Your guests will be so impressed and have no idea how little time and effort it took!
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed and cut into rectangles (size of your choosing)
1 Asian pear (can substitute apple, nectarine, the possibilities are endless), sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1-2 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp apricot jam, melted
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and lay out the pieces of puff pastry that you have cut into rectangles. Slice the pear or apple down the center and remove the core. I prefer to not peel the fruit, but you're more than welcome to do so. Place the fruit cut side down and slice from top to bottom (either with a mandolin or knife) into slices about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Layer these on top of the puff pastry; you can either layer them straight down from top to bottom, overlapping a little bit, or make a design of your choosing. Now take a pastry brush and the melted butter, and brush it on top of the pear slices and then sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on top (about 1 tbsp per tart), covering all of the pears. Next sprinkle on a little bit of cinnamon over top. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the pastry has turned light brown. After you remove from the oven and let sit for a minute, use the brush again to glaze the top with the melted apricot jam. You may need a spatula to remove them from the sheet pan so they don't break. If they stick because of sugar on the tray, place them back in the oven for a minute to melt the sugar and then remove. Enjoy!