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Cashel Blue Cheese and Pear Tarts are made with a simple pear compote and store-bought puff pastry, and is punctuated by creamy, tangy Irish cheese and a hint of balsamic vinegar.
It is, though, perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. Featuring Cashel blue cheese and a quite-easy-to-execute pastry design that’s reminiscent of a Celtic knot. (Just squint…see it now?!)
Main Ingredients for Cashel Blue Cheese and Pear Tarts
Cashel Blue Cheese — Cashel Blue is a farmhouse cheese that has been produced by the Grubb family in County Tipperary since the 1980’s. I truly appreciate Irish dairy, from butter to cheeses, because of their tradition and dedication to grass-fed farming. If you can’t find Cashel Blue at your local market, opt for an English Blue Stilton.
Pears — I chose Bosc pears because they tend to maintain their shape through the cooking process (they don’t get mushy), and because I love their texture and flavor. Select fairly ripe pears as they’ll produce more juice to make the sauce.
Puff Pastry — I love the flaky layers and crisp exterior you can achieve with store bought puff pastry, over pie crust. All you need to do is thaw it and it’s ready to use. Easy is good.
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How to Make Cashel Blue Cheese and Pear Tarts
Prep Your Ingredients
- If the walnuts are raw, toast them in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toss them every so often until they reach the level of toast you prefer. Remove them to a plate to cool.
- Peel and dice the pears into small even cubes.
- Weight out 1 ounce of cheese into a bowl.
- Lightly beat 1 egg in a small bowl.
- Have brown sugar, cardamom, salt and balsamic at the ready.
- Place butter in a small saucepan.
Make the Pear Compote
- Melt the butter over medium heat then add the brown sugar. Stir to dissolve it into the butter.
- Add the pears, a pinch of salt and the cardamom to the pan. Stir to combine everything then reduce the heat to medium low and cook the pears for about 4 to 5 minutes until they are tender.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears to a bowl. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the pan and continue cooking the liquid until it reduces by half. Remove it from the heat.
Assemble the Tarts
- Unfold one sheet of thawed puff pastry. There is no need to roll it out. Using a sharp knife or pizza roller, cut the pastry into 4 equal squares. (You may also choose to make smaller tarts, in which case, cut them into 9 equal squares.)
- Place the tip of your knife or roller in one corner of a square, about 1 cm in from the edge. Cut a slit parallel to the edge almost to the halfway point of the square. Repeat this in every corner until your pastry resembles the photo below. Do this for each square of pastry.
- Divide the pear compote evenly between each square. Crumble blue cheese over the pears.
- Lift one corner of the pastry and bring it to the center. Dot the tip with a bit of the egg wash. Repeat this for each corner and with each pastry.
- Lightly brush the pastry with the egg wash and transfer them to a baking sheet.
Bake the Tarts
Bake the tarts in a 400F degree oven for 20 minutes. Transfer them to a serving platter and sprinkle each with toasted walnuts.
If the syrup has set up too much, put the saucepan back on the burner for just a moment (or you can microwave it in a micro-safe container in 15 second increments). Drizzle the syrup across each pastry.
Variations for Cashel Blue Cheese and Pear Tarts
As I mentioned, if you can’t find Cashel Blue, opt for an English Blue Stilton. I think this tart would be great with apples and Irish cheddar as well (especially if blue cheese is not your thing!).
Feel free to try different nuts or leave them out entirely. Substitute cinnamon or ginger for the cardamom if that’s a spice you don’t usually use.
Cashel Blue Cheese and Pear Tart
- 2 ripe pears peeled + diced
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- pinch kosher salt
- splash balsamic vinegar
- 1 sheet puff pastry thawed
- 1 oz Cashel blue cheese
- 2 tbsp chopped walnuts toasted
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Dissolve the brown sugar in the butter.
- Add the pears, cardamom and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat the medium-low and cook the pears for 4 to 5 minutes until they're tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the pears to a bowl, leaving the cooking liquid in the saucepan.
- Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the cooking liquid. Simmer it for about 3 to 4 minutes until it reduces by about half. Watch it carefully as it will bubble.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Unfold the puff pastry and cut it into 4 equal squares.
- Using a very sharp knife or pizza roller, about 1 cm in from the edge, make a cut from each corner along the edge to almost the halfway point. Repeat this on each corner and to each square of pastry (see photo).
- Divide the cooked pears between the 4 squares of pastry. Crumble ¼ oz of Cashel blue cheese on each pastry.
- Carefully lift one corner and bring it to the center of the pastry. Dab a little bit of the egg wash on the center point. Repeat this with each corner until all are folded in.
- Lightly brush all exposed areas of puff pastry with the egg wash and transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer the tarts to a serving platter and sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Finally, drizzle some of the balsamic spiked glaze over each tart and enjoy!