Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chocolate Pear Tart


Hey there, how's Thanksgiving prep going? Is that pumpkin pie getting a bit bored and lonely on the dessert list? Well, look no further for its companion because this Chocolate Pear Tart is going to blow your socks off. Holy heck, is this thing good! Ripe Bosc pears tenderly poached in sugar and vanilla and then nestled in an ungoodly amount of deep, dark chocolate. Are you drooling yet? If not, let's take a look at the close-up:


And now say the words: Chocolate Pear Tart. Say them slowly, imagining the aroma that will fill your kitchen. Not bad, eh? Now, back to work! But don't panic, because even if something doesn't turn out *just so* (sacrebleu, what an idea!), this tart will make everything right again.

Food Photos1-35

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! A. and I wish you all a wonderful, happy and warm holiday full of family, friends, laughter and love.


Chocolate Pear Tart

This tart is from Once Upon A Tart, but I hacked it a little, using a different crust and twice as many pears. I know I keep repeating myself with this book, but it's just too darn good!

You can certainly use pears from a can or a jar, but, considering that it's so ridiculously easy to poach them yourself, why would you? There are all kinds of fancy pants ways you can poach your pears, and you should feel free to use whichever way you are comfortable with. The easiest is to do it with water and sugar, and I always like to add half a vanilla bean or a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the poaching liquid.

For the poached pears
4 ripe Bosc/D'Anjour/Bartlett pears (I used Bosc)
4-5 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds and pod, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crust
(lightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, very cold, cut into 16 pieces
1 cold egg, lightly beaten

For the custard (from Once Upon a Tart)
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apricot jam to glaze (optional)

1. Make the crust. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. Scatter pieces of cold butter on top and cut in with a pastry cutter until the largest pieces are the size of peas and the mixture looks crumbly. Working quickly, drip the egg into the dough and toss with a fork until the dough sticks together when pinched. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of iced water. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter and knead a few times, just to incorporate the dry ingredients.

2. Butter or spray a 10-inch tart pan. Lightly press the dough into the tart pan. The dough should cover all the sides but not lose its crumbly texture (in other words, don't work with it too much or the pieces of butter will melt). Place the tart pan in the freezer for 1/2 hour.

3. Next, peel, halve and core the pears. Bring 4-5 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil in a large saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Scrape the vanilla seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean into the water and put the pod in as well, or just put in the teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir to combine. Gently place the pears in the water (add more water if needed to completely cover the pears), lower the heat, and cook at a low boil until the pears are just tender when pierced with a fork (but not mushy). For me, this was around the 10-15 minute mark. Drain the water and set the pears aside.

4. Whisk the egg and the egg yolk lightly in a medium-sized bowl. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. In a double boiler (or a metal bowl set over an inch of gently simmering water so that the bowl bottom doesn't touch the water) melt the chocolate with the cream, stirring and folding with a heat-proof spatula to combine into a smooth and shiny ganache. Stir in the 1/4 cup sugar and cook a few minutes more, until the sugar has melted. Set aside to cool.

5. Remove the tart dough from the freezer and preheat the oven to 375F. Carefully transfer your pear halves to a cutting board and, holding each pear with one hand to keep it intact, carefully slice into thin slices. To fan out the pear slices, press the wide end of the pear gently towards the narrow end. Slide the knife under the fanned pears and arrange them in a circle inside the tart pan.

6. To make the custard, slowly dribble about 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. This warms the eggs, preventing them from cooking. Add the rest of the chocolate in a steady stream and stir to combine.

7. Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart pan, pouring as much as possible around the pears rather than on top of the pears. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the chocolate custard is puffed and set (it will be firm to the touch and slightly cracked around the edges). Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

8. Remove the tart from the tart pan and slide onto a plate. If desired, brush the pears with a little bit of melted apricot jam to glaze and then sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Serve warm with lightly-sweetened whipped cream.


Rambling Tart said...

Oooeee! That is positively GORGEOUS! :-) Once Upon A Tart is the one cookbook I can't live without. :-) Can't wait to try this one!

♥peachkins♥ said...

I am not a big pear fan but this looks gorgeous!

Chats the Comfy Cook said...

You made it look so beautiful. This is stunning. Could you make it with another fruit. I don't mean to be a killjoy but I have some, in the family, who do not like pears.

On the other hand, my hubby loves them.

El said...

Yes, you do have me drooling. This dessert is a show stopper... Absolutely stunning. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Heather said...

What a delicious looking tart! pears and chocolate go so well together.

Manggy said...

Beautiful, Irene! I think I would very much prefer this over pumpkin pie :)

Ash said...

This is gorgeous! Gotta love chocolate and pear!

Barbara said...

That looks divine! Chocolate and pear together were definitely made in heaven.

Dewi said...

What a beautiful combination Irene. Lovely tart.

Unknown said...

Had I not been so wiped out after Thanksgiving orgy, I would have baked this beauty right away! Fiona

Irene said...

Sounds like you had a good one, my dear!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Beautiful, Irene! The look of sliced pears in a tart could not be more appealing. But by adding chocolate to the mix, you really made this irresistible. Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Irina@PastryPal said...

A Happy Thanksgiving, indeed! Since I missed it for this holiday, I'll have to try it in the coming month. It really is just the thing I'd like to eat right now.

Ingrid_3Bs said...

I'm not a chocolate lover but it is a FINE looking tart!

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Crystal said...

I just tried my very first recipe ever from Once Upon a Tart and then I come here and this one is up! I guess I know what my next recipe from Once Upon a Tart is going to be! Yours is so lovely looking.

Irene said...

That book is actually on my nightstand, it always brings a smile to my face.

The Caked Crusader said...

Chocolate and pear is my all time fave combination. This tart is so gorgeous I just want to fall into it face first!

Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home said...

Absolutely gorgeous. I did make Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving (as my mother would stangle me if I didn't!) but this something I would make for myself!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

I really have to order that cookbook. Beautiful Pear Tart.

Katie said...

Your tart looks stunning. Love the pear and chocolate combo and the light dusting of sugar makes it look so festive

Unknown said...


dresser said...

It is so unfortunate that I did not get to check your blog before Thanksgiving. I would love to make the chocolate pear tart. Well, there is still Christmas!

Irene said...

I think it would be more than perfect for Christmas. I'm planning to make it for Hanukkah myself. :)

Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

oooh that tart is GOREGOUS!! I will have to give one a try for sure. I am in LOVE with pears at the moment :)

ChichaJo said...

That is one beautiful tart! I can just imagine how delicious the poached pears and that dark chocolate are together...mmmm!

CC11 said...

I just bookmarked this - looks fab!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God.

This looks fantastic, the pears we're getting here in Italy right now are still fantastic. The chilly weather would make a great excuse to sit down with this tart, some coffee and fork and not share.

Jud said...

Hi Irene.

I'm planning on making this tart in a couple of days. Was hoping I could get some advice before then. I'm considering using one more pear and shingling the pear slices concentrically on the bottom, then topping with the custard and garnishing with toasted sliced almonds. Do you see any problems with this variation? Thanks for the reply.

Irene said...

Hi Jud, that sounds lovely. Let me know if it worked out, I'd love to try that myself.

Jud said...

Hi Irene.

My wife made the tart as described. We used drained and patted dry canned pears, and used a food processor to prepare the crust dough. The combination of flakey crust, tender pear, luscious rich chocolate filling, and crunchy toasted almond slices topped with slightly sweetened whipped cream was a sublime, delicious marriage of flavor and texture. Absolutely wonderful! I love to tinker with recipes, but this one is stand-alone. My wife and I enjoy baking and we've eaten many a tart, but I've got to say this recipe's crust is the best--crunchy, crispy, but not dry or tough. We'll be using it as our standard. Thanks so much for such a well written and tasty recipe.

Jud said...

In case you didn't get my comment submitted a few days ago, the variation of your tart was huge success. Used canned pears, slices shingled on tart crust, covered with filling, and topped with toasted almond slices. Served with whipped cream for a topping. Great crust! Will be using in the future. Thanks for an outstanding recipe!

Flapret said...

Great recipe! I would love to leave more compliments, but gotta run before it's gone - I hear my loved ones gathering in the kitchen...
Here's how it turned out:

Unknown said...

I LOVE Once Upon a Tart, and this recipe looks amazing. Thanks!

rss said...

Have you ever tried this with pears poached in red wine? I am trying to think whether that would be good with the chocolate.