Tuesday, December 1, 2009

{TWD} Rosy Pear & Almond Tart with Two Nut Crust

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.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- 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
- 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
- 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.

- 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.

the verdict:

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.


Katrina said...

What a fabulous job on this tart, Nancy. The crust looks and sounds so interesting. Way to do some homework and get an A+ on the final exam!

Susan said...

Your tart looks so good! I passed on this one. No pears and no nuts. I made Dorie's Blueberry pie instead.

margot said...

Beautiful tart, Nancy! The nut crust sounds divine. Dorie's tarts really are winners, aren't they? I'm glad it was such a hit in your household.

natalia said...

Ciao Nancy ! Beautiful shaped tart ! Now I would like to try all your changes especially the crust as I gave part of the tart to a celiac friend (for her children) and felt guilty !!

MacDuff said...

This is so beautiful! I had to sit out this week because I just didn't have the time (or the audience). I'm with you - let's bake some cookies!

But you're totally right - this is a great idea for gluten free diets.

Anonymous said...

The poaching liquid was kind of like sangria! That wasn't a drawback for me though. The nut crust sounds delicious.

Unknown said...

What a gorgeous tart Nancy! I love the rectangular tart pan. I bought that one months ago and still haven't tried it out. I'm so impressed that you took an already time-consuming recipe and made it your own. Great job :)

Mary Ann said...

I love the idea of a gluten-free nut crust. I bet it tasted magnificent. Your pears turned out beautifully too. Very lovely tart- I love the shape and everything. Great job, Nancy!

mike said...

I too have one of these tart pans, and they make such sophisticated tarts! This one is especially wonderful Nancy! Bravo... I applaud you efforts (send me some stiff pastry cream while you're at it)! It looks like it rates a 10! So glad everyone enjoyed it. I think almonds would be better myself - I know so many people who are not fans of pistachios. Well done!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

it's so pretty in the long fluted mold! and i like the sound of the all nut crust...looks like it wasn't bad to work with either.

Engineer Baker said...

I adore those long rectangular tart pans, they're just too gorgeous! And definitely loving that tart crust recipe - think I'll have to give it a try sometime!

NKP said...

Beautiful tart!
Such great flavours.
"time bombs", I love that, so true!

vibi said...

I'm being redundant I know... but I can't help just being jealous of that tart pan... gotta get one!

You got great colour on your pears, almost through and through! WOW! Bravo.

Di said...

Add me to the list of people who are envious of your tart pan. =) I really need to get one of those one of these days. Your tart looks lovely. Nice job on the gluten-free crust. I made one once for a cheesecake for one of my employees. I just kind of made it up, using brown sugar, pecans & butter. =)

Kayte said...

Well, this looks absolutely elegant and gorgeous in that lovely pan you used. Leave it to you to make something rustic look elegant! Beautiful job. 10 out of 10 can't be beat!

TeaLady said...


And you used that lovely long tart pan.

I will have to try your crust. Sounds very robust for a mild tart.

Jules Someone said...

That looks just lovely!

Sarah said...

Nancy, your tart is absolutely gorgeous! I still haven't had a chance to make this one, but I really want to. I'm hoping to do it around Christmas... Your crust sounds (and looks) wonderful.