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Caramelized Pear and Pastry Cream Tart

Crisp and refreshing pears with a sweet vanilla cream and a light buttery crust make this the perfect conclusion to any meal. Pair with California Muscat/Moscato or late-harvest Riesling.


Pie Dough:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2g) salt
  • 6 ounces (180g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 ounces (60g) cold shortening, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) buttermilk (or heavy cream)

Caramelized Pears:

  • 4 large Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored with a melon baller
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • ¼ cup (50g) light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon (14ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, cut into 8 small pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Pastry Cream:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (22g) cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups (350ml) whole milk, scalded see note
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (10ml) vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter

Prep time: 1.5 hours

Chill time: 1 hour

Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Makes 1 10- inch tart


Prepare and chill the dough:

In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Add the cold cubes of butter and shorting and cut in with a pastry knife or your fingers until a fine crumble is made. Work in the buttermilk just until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Bake the caramelized pears:

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Place the prepared pears cut side up on the sheet pan. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pears to prevent browning.

In a small bowl mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle the mixture over the pears evenly. Drizzle each pear half with a bit of the vanilla extract, then add a piece of butter into the well of each pear half where the core was removed. Bake for 30 minutes, cut side up. Flip the pears cut side down and carefully stir the juices and sugar that have begun to caramelize on the pan.

Return to the oven and bake for another 20-35 minutes depending on how firm the pears were to begin with. The pears should be softened and caramelized around the edges where the pear meets the pan. Remove from the oven, but do not turn the oven off. Flip the pears cut side up and allow to cool to room temperature on the pan.

Bake the tart shell:

While the pears are cooling, bake the tart shell. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface until 1/2 inch (8mm) thick. Carefully place the dough into a tart shell, form and trim off all excess.

Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill the tart shell with dried beans, or pie weights. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the shell is light golden brown. Remove from oven, recycle foil, discard beans and set aside for the shell to cool completely.

Prepare the pastry cream:

In a mixer, cream the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cornstarch and continue to mix on medium speed until fully incorporated. Stir in the scalded milk in a slow, steady stream. Pour the mixture into a saucepan, add the vanilla and simmer over medium heat, constantly stirring until the mixture has thickened to about the consistency of mayonnaise.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Strain into a clean bowl to remove any lumps. Cover and let pastry cream cool to room temperature. Pour the mixture into the tart shell and set aside.

Assemble the tart:

Slice the cooled, caramelized pears into thin strips across the width of the pear that are all roughly the same size. Gently fan the slices across the top of the pastry cream, creating a circular pattern and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Recipe note:

How to scald milk: Add cold milk to a wide, shallow, heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat the saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. The milk is scalded when small bubbles appear around the outside of the saucepan, or the temperature registers 180 to 185 degrees F (82 to 85 degrees C). For this recipe cool the milk for 10 minutes before adding it to the pastry cream.

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