Black River Bleu Cheese Tartlet with Caramelized Onion & Pears

finished tart photo

My Bleu Cheese, Pear and Caramelized Onion Tartlet is one of my most popular recipes. I make this delicious quiche-like dish in a 4 inch ring mold which I purchase from the J.B.Prince Company. This recipe will make about eight 4 inch tartlets. You can also use an 8 inch tart pan that has higher sides. You can also purchase these at J.B. Prince If you make the larger tart, I suggest “blind baking” the shell (pre baking without filling) so the pie dough is crisp on the bottom. I show you how below!

We use Wisconsin Black River Bleu Cheese for this tart. If you live in Door County, you can find this cheese at both the Main Street Market in Egg Harbor and the Top Shelf Gourmet here in Sister Bay.


For the tartlets

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup of good quality bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint or Italian parsley
  • a pinch of salt and white pepper
  • baby arugula, for garnish
  • balsamic vinaigrette


Combine 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar with 1 teaspoon honey and a touch of salt and white pepper. Whisk in approximately 1/2 to 2/3 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Bring to room temperature when ready to serve.

To prepare tart shells

tart lined with doughI like to line my tart shells then place them in the freezer for at least an hour. This helps the tart from “shrinking” when baking. If you make the smaller individual tarts, you can put the ingredients directly into the shells.

Place the empty tart rings on a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roll out your pie dough, and cut into small squares slightly larger than the tart ring. Place in the ring and gently press to form the shell. Continue with remaining tart rings. Freeze for one hour. The smaller tart shells do not need to be pre-baked “blind.”

tart shell blind bakeIf using a tart pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Spray the paper and sides of the pan with pan spray such as PAM. Roll out the dough and place in the tart pan. Press gently to make the tart shell. Freeze for one hour.

To blind bake a larger shell, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the frozen lined tart pan with foil then put in raw dry beans or pie weights. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake for 7 more minutes. Remove and let cool.

For additional directions on blind baking, check out my recipe for key lime coconut tart.

You will need a good quality blue cheese for the tart. We use Black River Bleu Cheese form Wisconsin. If you don’t care for bleu cheese, you can substitute goat cheese for the recipe.

caramelizing pearsPlace 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a saute pan. When hot, add the onions. Cook on medium heat until the onions begin to become translucent. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the onions. Cook until the onions become slightly brown and caramelized. Set aside.

In a clean pan, place the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. When hot, add the sliced pears. Cook until they pears become slightly brown on the sides. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and cook on low until the pears are lightly caramelized. Set aside.

pears in tart shellsCombine the eggs, half and half, salt and white pepper, chopped herbs and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

Remove the tart rings from the freezer (or have your blind baked tart shell ready on a parchment lined pan). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pears evenly among the tartlet pans.

adding custardAdd the bleu cheese and caramelized pears.

Divide the egg mixture among the tarts.

Carefully place in the preheated oven. Small tartlets will take approximately 15 minutes to bake in a convection oven and about 20 minutes in a standard oven.

The larger tarts will take about 22 to 25 minutes in a convection oven and about 26 to 30 minutes in a standard oven. The egg mixture should be firm when done and slightly br owned.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Use a small paring knife to go around the tarts to loosen them.

removing ring from tartCarefully remove the tart rings. If using a larger tart pan, use a knife to go around the edge then lift off the ring. The metal round portion will still be on the bottom. If you want to remove it, use a large spatula to carefully slide the tart (without the parchment paper) on to a serving platter.

Serve by tossing a little baby arugula with balsamic vinaigrette. Place a small amount on top of each tartlet. Drizzle with additional balsamic vinaigrette and some sliced pears to garnish.

You can make these tartlets ahead. Reheat in a 250 degree oven for approximately 8 minutes.


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