If something tastes good, it doesn’t matter whether it is `authentic’ or prepared `correctly’–what works, works. For this easy dessert, I cover pear halves with frozen puff pastry and serve them right in the gratin dish in which they are baked. You can use apples instead of pears, if you prefer.
Crème fraîche or sour cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.
Peel the pears and cut them lengthwise in half. Remove the core from each half and arrange the pear halves cut side down in one layer in a gratin dish. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and half the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Unfold the sheet of puff pastry and cut it apart at the seams to get 3 pieces approximately 10 inches by 3 inches. Cut each of these crosswise in half to create 6 pieces. Lay a pastry piece on top of each pear half, and as the pastry starts to defrost a little more and relax slightly, press the pieces gently around the pears so they take on the shape of the pear halves. Spread the butter on the pastry and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.
Place the gratin dish on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is browning nicely and the juices around the pears are bubbling and caramelized.
Pour the water around the pears and return them to the oven for 5 minutes. The water will melt the caramel and create a sauce. Serve the pears warm, with crème fraîche or sour cream, if desired.