My entire family cannot stop eating pears this season. We are absolutely in love with them. Especially Bartletts. So, I really branched out by making these pear tarts instead of an apple pie for Thanksgiving this year in celebration of our love of pears. (As an aside, I have always had a love of tarts as well!)
This lovely tart recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Elisabeth Prueitt. I substituted 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract for the 2 tablespoons of brandy. I also made one 9-inch tart and one 10-inch tart because those are the size tart pans I own. 😉 The original recipe was for two 9-inch tarts. Because the tart sizes were different, each had a different pear pattern on top. Beautiful and delicious.
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: Makes 2 9-inch Tarts
For the Pastry:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1/4 cup ice water
For the Filling:
- 1 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
- 3 large eggs
- pinch of coarse salt
- 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 1/2 cups sliced almonds, plus more for garnish, if desired
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons brandy or 1 T vanilla extract
- 6 ripe medium Bartlett pears, peeled, quartered and cored
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
- In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Pulse in the butter until it is the size of small peas.
- Sprinkle the egg mixture on top and pulse just until a dough forms.
- Scrape the pastry onto 2 sheets of plastic wrap and form into 2 disks. Wrap and refrigerate until chilled. (I let it chill overnight.)
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out each pastry disk to a 12-inch round 1/8 inch thick. Fit the pastry into two 9-inch fluted tart pans with removable bottoms. Fold the overhang onto itself. Using a sharp knife or a rolling pin, trim off any excess pastry. Chill to set while you prepare the filling.
- Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch.
- Whisk in 1 egg and the salt.
- Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then return it to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until thickened and just beginning to bubble around the edges, about 4 minutes.
- Strain the custard into a bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter.
- Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat the remaining 12 tablespoons of butter with the sliced almonds at medium-low speed until the almonds are slightly crushed.
- Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 eggs, then beat in the custard and brandy/vanilla.
- Spoon the filling into the tarts. Place 1 pear quarter in the center of each tart; arrange the remaining quarters in a circle around it. (I made different patterns with the different size tarts, and was only able to place a pear quarter in the center of the 10-inch tart.)
- Bake the tarts in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, rotating halfway between the cooking time, or until the pears are very tender and the custard and pastry are deep golden.
- Let the tarts cool for 30 minutes, then unmold. Garnish with additional sliced almonds, if desired.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.
Note: The tarts can be stored overnight in airtight containers.
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