Here is the story behind this recipe:
Went to see a friend and before leaving her house she hands my husband
three pears and says see what you can make with these. After all, my
husband does make an amazing apple pie.
Later that evening we opened presents. One of my gifts
was a tart pan (yeah).
Are you thinking what I thought?
The next day I went in search of a pear tart. There are so many recipes
out there for pear tarts I really did not have any idea where to start.
A conversation with Marsha helped me narrow my search for a pear tart
because she mentioned chocolate. Ahhh, yes pear and chocolate - yum.
PEAR TART with CHOCOLATE and ALMONDS
• 1 partially baked 9-inch almond tart shell, cooled (recipe follows)
• 2 large eggs
• 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
• 1 cup half & half
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 tablespoons blanched almonds
• 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
• 3 organic Bartlet pears, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise and cored with a melon-baller or small spoon
• Toasted, sliced almonds for sprinkling, if desired
Preheat oven to 325˚F.
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the half & half and the vanilla. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, finely grind the almonds with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Spoon the ground almond mixture evenly over the top of the partially baked tart shell; sprinkle the grated bittersweet chocolate over the almonds.
3. Take a pear half and using a sharp knife, make thin slices across the width of the pear, keeping the shape of the pear intact. (See photo above). Once the pear is entirely sliced, gently press on the pear to slightly spread the slices apart. Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the pear half to the tart shell and lay atop the almond and chocolate mixture with the stem end of the pear pointing to the center of the tart. Repeat with the other pear halves, placing the sliced pears to create a spoke pattern.
4. Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet and then, very slowly, begin pouring the reserved egg mixture onto the pears. Pour in just enough so it is easily transported to the middle rack of the oven. Once inside the oven you can add a little more of the egg custard. After about 5 minutes of baking, I will very carefully add as much of the remaining custard as I can to the tart shell.
5. Bake the tart for approximately 45-50 minutes. If, within the last 5 minutes of baking, the custard still has no color to it, increase the oven temperature to 350˚ and watch closely at this point. Remove to a cooling rack when custard just begins to turn golden.
6. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds if desired.
ALMOND TART PASTRY
• 2 tablespoons blanched or sliced almonds
• 1 cup unbleached flour
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 5 1/3 tablespoons COLD unsalted butter, cubed
• 3 tablespoons ice water
1. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine.
2. Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture and pulse briefly, just until small pieces of the butter remain.
3. Slowly add the ice water while pulsing, until the dough just begins to come together. Do not over process.
4. Empty the tart dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, flatten and wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
5. Remove from refrigerator and roll dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan; trim edge. Place lined tart pan in freezer while preheating oven.
6. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line the tart shell with foil and beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and continue to bake until pastry just begins to turn golden. Remove and let cool.
**True confessions - Although I think this recipe is GREAT!!! My tart did not turn out as wonderful as I had hoped (for a few reasons). First, the custard somehow got behind the crust causing my tart pan to leak a little - so I had to refill the tart pan a few times. Second, I went into the recipe knowing I wasn't using Barlett pears but wanted to give it a try anyway - not the best choice. The pears I used did not really add much flavor to the tart, just a little texture.
On a happier note ~I do think the tart is very pretty and I would definitely give it another try.