Happy National Pear Month!
In recent weeks I've been madly bookmarking pear recipes. I've gone so far as to bring pears home from the market, but then I've gotten busy, and forgotten what I was planning to do with them. Unlike apples which will hang out happily in the crisper for weeks on end, pears are like little time bombs. They sit on the counter silently ripening until it is suddenly time to use them or lose them. Luckily I've learned that an easy way to keep pears is to poach them then refrigerate them, and in the past few weeks I've tried a few different poached pear recipes (which I will share on this blog soon).
This week's recipe for the Tuesdays With Dorie baking group is the Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart. The pears in this recipe are poached in red wine and paired with pistachio pastry cream. We've loved each of Dorie's tart recipes so far, and with poached pears on top, this one sounded delicious to me.
- The recipe involves 5 elements: tart crust, poached pears, pastry cream, caramelized nuts, and a sauce. They can be made ahead and assembled just before serving the tart.
- I gave away all of our pies to family members on Thanksgiving, so I baked a small tart for my husband and I to enjoy with our Thanksgiving leftovers. He doesn't care for pistachios, so I substituted almonds in the pastry cream and the topping.
- The poaching liquid consists of most of a bottle of wine (just a few drops left for the cook), sweetened, and flavored with strips of lemon and orange zest. I used honey instead of sugar. My pears were very ripe (almost too ripe), so they were tender after poaching for about 10 minutes.
- I forgot to add a few drops of lemon juice when I caramelized the almonds so some of them crystallized; luckily most of them turned out well. They did sort of clump together, and were impossible to separate when they were hot.
- My pastry cream got very thick very quick, even though it never really boiled. It was more of a pastry paste. I did not strain out the nuts. Before spreading it in the tart crust, I thinned it with sour cream.
- After I substituted milder almonds for the pistachios, I decided to match the bold flavor of the wine-poached pears with a more assertive tart crust. I've been wanting to experiment with a gluten-free tart crust, and decided to bake one that was entirely free of any grain. After a bit of online research I made a variation of an all-nut tart crust from Sunset Magazine (you can find the recipe buried halfway down this page). My biggest changes were adding an egg yolk and changing the steps to make the dough in my food processor. Here's how I made my crust:
- pulsed 2 cups of walnuts until finely chopped- Then I pressed the dough into the tart pan, froze it for an hour, covered it with buttered foil, and baked 25 min at 350 degrees.
- added 1/2 c almond meal + 3 T confectioner's sugar and pulsed to combine with walnuts
- added 6 T cold butter + pulsed until combined
- added 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp vanilla and pulsed until the dough began to hold together
- I reduced the poaching liquid into a syrup, but didn't end up serving it with the tart. The citrus flavors combined with red wine reminded me strongly of sangria, and for us that's an experience better left in the '70's.
We enjoyed this tart for dessert on three consecutive evenings. My husband gave the tart a rating of 10 (out of 10)! I agree that it was a lovely dessert, one that I'm glad I tried. The pears took on an assertive, interesting, and appealing flavor from the wine-based poaching liquid. Luckily their intensity was matched by the robust nut tart crust. I'm sure that I will bake the crust again, especially when I need to bake a gluten free dessert.
Today is National Pie Day, and I think this tart is close enough, don't you? The recipe was chosen by Lauren of I’ll Eat You - you can find the recipe on her blog. (check it out - her tart looks even prettier than the one in the book!) or on pages 370 and 371 of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.