Here at the Hasslefactory, we love pears. Yesterday was an almost perfect day in the Pear Department, because Gilda made her insanely delicious brown butter pear tart. Usually pear tart makes for a PERFECTLY perfect day. The only reason it was only “ALMOST” perfect is because we gave half the tart to our friends. Which meant we wouldn’t be having it for breakfast.
Gilda has been making various adaptations of this tart since forever, and a lot of people have asked for the recipe. The original version is the “Fresh Fruit or Berry Tart” recipe from Michael’s Cookbook by chef Michael McCarty, owner of Michael’s Restaurant in Santa Monica.
We like this cookbook a lot (even though we find the presentations annoyingly fussy). It’s well written and thoughtfully designed, and would inspire anyone who enjoys fine cooking. While some ingredients may not be readily available everywhere, nearly all the recipes can be prepared using standard equipment found in typical home kitchens. The desserts chapter is especially nice, as are the wine pairing suggestions. The book is now out of print, but new and used copies are available at Amazon for a song.
But back to our pear tart. Here’s the recipe for Gilda’s version, which is bigger, more rustic, and slightly less sweet than the original:
- Pâte Sucrée Shell
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1-3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
- Tart Filling
- 4 large eggs
- 1-1/3 cup sugar
- 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup flour (lightly spooned and leveled)
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 Bosc pears (firm, but ripe)
- Lightly whisk egg yolk and cream together in small bowl; set aside.
- Put flour and sugar in food processor bowl and pulse to combine. Add butter.
- Pulse a few times to break up cubes, then process briefly until mixture resembles cornmeal. Do not overprocess.
- Turn on machine and pour egg/cream mixture through feed tube. Process just until it starts to come together. Mixture will appear crumbly, but should hold together when pinched. If it is too dry, dribble another teaspoon of cream over it and process again briefly to combine.
- Turn out onto plastic wrap. Press quickly into flat disc and wrap tightly. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Before rolling, allow to rest at room temp for 20 minutes or so to soften slightly. Roll out to approximately 1/8 inch thick.
- Place in 11" tart pan with removable bottom. Press into bottom and sides of pan. Trim with a sharp knife held flat on the top edge of the pan. Pate sucree is fragile and tears easily. For small cracks, simply press back together gently. Larger gaps can be patched with scraps from trimming. Return finished shell to refrigerator and chill well before filling.
- [img style= "left-margin:3em" src="http://artieandgilda.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Pate-Sucree-Crust-8.jpg" width="300" height="300"]
- Whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla together in medium bowl until well combined. Whisk in flour; set aside.
- Melt butter in small saute pan, whisking constantly. Butter will begin to foam; as it cooks, the foam will subside. Continue whisking, cooking over medium-high heat until butter browns to the color of hazelnuts. Immediately remove from heat to prevent burning.
- Gradually whisk butter (including all the brown bits at the bottom of the pan) into egg mixture. Combine well.
- If you haven't already turned on the oven, do it now.
- Peel pears; slice in half lengthwise; carefully remove cores. Thinly slice each half pear crosswise on cutting board, keeping the halves intact.
- Using thin spatula or knife, transfer each sliced half to chilled tart shell, arranging them in a circle.
- [img style= "left-margin:3em" src="http://artieandgilda.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Pear-Tart-10.jpg" width="300" height="300"]
- (Depending on size and shape of pears, all eight halves may not fit.) Gently push slices of each half forward to spread from edge of shell to center.
- Whisk filling again briefly, as the solids tend to settle. Pour about two-thirds of filling into shell around pear halves. Using tip of paring knife, gently separate slices, allowing filling to flow between and into the core cavity beneath.
- [img style= "left-margin:3em" src="http://artieandgilda.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Pear-Tart-13.jpg" width="300" height="300"]
- Pour in remaining filling and bake immediately.
- Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean. Cool on rack. Serve at room temperature.
- Delicious plain. Awesome with Amaretto whipped cream. Spectacular with homemade ginger ice cream.