15 Primo Pear Tarts, Crisps, and Crumbles
In the mood for a treat? We’ve rounded up a bushelful of fresh pear desserts from easy to elegant, and they’re all sweet and juicy down to the last spoonful.
It’s easy to forget about pears. What with modern storage techniques and growing regions across hemispheres, we can buy fresh pears year-round. And apples, that other fall fruit, they tend to hog all the glory. Yet pears, with their delicate floral to honeyed sweetness, deserve their own place in the seasonal spotlight — especially when we’re showcasing the best of what autumn offers with a warm baked dessert.
Pear crisps and crumbles (different names for the same style of dessert) are great for a last-minute treat. Just pile sliced fruit into a baking dish and top with a streusel layer, often made up of butter, sugar, and flour (oats, nuts, and any number of other ingredients may also have a role). Pear tarts, with their pastry crust on the bottom, plus a filling and no top crust, are a beautiful way to show off a little baking artistry, and they tend to be easier than pear pies. The tart family includes their freeform cousin the galette.
All these choices use the fruit generously. As the oven cooks the pears to juiciness, these comfort food desserts will fill your home with the fragrance of fall. But before we dive into the recipes, here are some pear particulars.
Choose the right pear. Of the ten commercial varieties of pears, some, like Bosc, have a deep flavor that’s almost lightly spiced on its own, while still taking well to those nice warm spices we associate with this time of year. Others, such as Bartlett pears, have a more straightforward and uncomplicated sweetness. Note which variety of pear is called for in a recipe. While all but Comice can be baked (it’s just too juicy), Bosc pears stand out as a baking star. These brown and russeted pears have a naturally crisp flesh that lets them hold their shape especially well during baking.
Ripeness. How to know when a pear is ready to use? No matter which variety you’re choosing, the perfect stage for baking is firm-ripe. The Pear Bureau Northwest recommends using your thumb to very gently press on a pear’s neck. If there’s some give, the fruit is ripe and will be full-flavored. But don’t let pears ripen to squishiness, or they’ll fall apart in your baked dessert. Note that the firmness of Bosc pears means that they will have less give than other varieties, even when ready to cook.
Storage. Keep pears at room temperature until ripe enough to eat. If you need a few more days before firing up the oven, you can refrigerate the fruit to slow down softening.
Now, let's get baking!
Pear Frangipane Tart
This stunning pear tart recipe combines pears with the sweet almond cream filling called frangipane. The instructions call for poaching the pears in a cinnamon, star anise, vanilla bean syrup before baking them in the tart, which makes it all the more important to select firm-ripe pears — soft pears will break down in the poaching liquid before they even make it to the oven.
Glazed Pear Tart
Similar to the previous recipe, this tart recipe includes poached pears and a frangipane filling. But in this case, Jamie Geller stands the pears up in the tart for a striking presentation. She adds an apricot glaze toward the end to leave the dessert gorgeous and glistening.
Maple-Pear Sheet Tart
If tending to fragile crusts makes your hair stand on end, try this recipe made with store-bought phyllo dough. Simply roll the dough slightly larger, then set it in a sheet pan. Arrange sweetened sliced pears on the pastry (red Anjou pears are especially pretty here). Then drizzle the pears with maple syrup. Pop the pear tart in the oven, and it’s a short path to a tasty and attractive treat. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream? Sure, why not.
Pear Galette with Ginger
If you’re still asking, “How do you make a pear tart?” consider starting here. A galette (also known as a crostata) is a forgiving free-form tart, in this case with a buttery crust that cradles sliced pears spiced with ground ginger and vanilla sugar. “Rustic” is the name of the game — pressure is off when it comes to perfectly shaping and folding the dough!
Chocolate Pear Galette
For an even simpler take on the easy and forgiving galette, use store-bought pie dough. Top it with sliced pears, chocolate sugar (sugar combined with a little chocolate extract), and pieces of bittersweet chocolate. Fold the sides of the dough over the fruit, and into the oven the tart goes.
Upside Down Pear Tarts
You’ve likely heard of the popular French upside-down apple tart called tarte tatin. Self Proclaimed Foodie does a pear version, and she makes it mini. She caramelizes a panful of sliced pears with butter, sugar, and ground cinnamon; spoons them into jumbo muffin cups; and tops each with a round of puff pastry. Once the tarts are baked, she carefully turns them upside-down (or is it right-side up?) onto a big platter.
Gluten-Free Cinnamon Pear Tart with Caramel Sauce
Carefree and gluten-free: In this recipe, a press-in tart crust of almond flour, oat flour, coconut oil, and maple syrup replaces the butter, all-purpose flour, and sugar of a more traditional crust. Pre-bake the crust until golden; then line it with sliced pears, spices, and more maple syrup; and bake until the fruit is tender. A generous drizzle of caramel sauce completes this dreamy dessert.
Easy Pear Crisp
This classic crisp, spiced with ground cinnamon and nutmeg, includes pecans for a nutty crunch in the buttery oat and brown sugar topping. Serving recommendation (yes, please): vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.
Slow Cooker Apple Pear Crisp
Did you know you can “bake” fruit crisp in a Crock-Pot? Damn Delicious cleverly covers the pot with a dish towel beneath the lid to absorb the usual steam that collects in a slow-cooker. After a couple of hours at low heat, she uncovers the two-fruit crisp and lets it finish cooking until the topping is browned and the fruit is tender.
Gingersnap-Walnut Pear Crisp
Warm spices are a natural with the sweetness of pears, and Pairs Well with Food turns to gingersnaps as the source. She grinds them into crumbs to flavor her streusel topping and replace the usual oats. Then she adds walnuts for crunch, brown sugar for sweetness, and whole-wheat flour for a healthy note.
Baked Pears with Walnuts and Honey
Fast and healthy, this four-ingredient pear recipe does without a crust — or any grains at all, for that matter — just nuts, honey, and a touch of cinnamon on top of the fruit. For a creamy sauce, add yogurt to serve as a breakfast dish, or pair with frozen yogurt for a solid dessert option.
Pear and Blueberry Crumble
Mild and sweet, pears and blueberries are natural partners that need only a touch of brown sugar and lemon juice to highlight their subtle flavors. If you want to make the crumble topping gluten-free, the recipe gives the option to use almond flour instead of all-purpose flour.
Gluten-Free Pear Ginger Crumble
Check out a creative, beautifully spiced pear dessert recipe that takes advantage of a spiralizer, if you have one, to make quick work of thinly slicing the pears. (Of course, you can use a knife instead.) The streusel, from coconut flour, almond flour, pecans, and oats, comes together without any gluten. A splash of bourbon adds a caramelized-flavor note.
Roasted Pear Crumble
In this crustless crumble, the pears are roasted on their own to concentrate their flavor. The elegant crunchy topping, made with pumpkin seeds, almonds, and black sesame seeds, toasts separately. A dollop of sweetened mascarpone beautifully and deliciously finishes the plate.
For a fall dessert that pops with flavor, season pears with orange zest, ginger, cardamom, and a pinch of black pepper. Add tangy dried cranberries to the buttery oat and almond streusel topping. When you carry it to the table, don’t forget the ice cream!