I always forget how much I like pears until I eat them again. They are great in salads and absolutely delicious in a simple tart for dessert. This recipe looks good enough to be served at a dinner party or enjoyed at the end of a relaxed meal with the family.
Serves 4-8: (depending on how big a slice you want!)
8 oz unbleached all-purpose flour
4 oz sweet butter (room temperature cut into 1/2″ pieces
Mix the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can use a food processor if you like). Add cold water to bind into a ball (be careful not to add too much, you don’t want a “wet” ball). Lightly flour a surface and roll out the pastry so it’s the size of a 11” dinner plate. Grease a 9” flan ring (a fluted pan with a removable bottom) and line with the pastry, trim off excess and prick the bottom with a fork. Line with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans. Blind bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25 minutes until lightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before adding the filling.
Custard Filling (Crème Pâtissière): A Julia Child original and foolproof custard recipe – this makes enough for two tarts . The remainder can be frozen.
1 c granulated sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tbsp boiling milk
1 tbsp butter
In a mixing bowl, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms ribbons (you can use a wire whisk, or electric beater). Beat in the flour. Continue to beat the mixture while gradually adding the boiling milk in a thin stream. Pour into a saucepan over a moderate heat and stir with a wire whisk, making sure you reach the bottom of the pan. As the sauce comes to the boil it will get lumpy, but will smooth out with continued beating. When boiling, turn heat to low and continue to beat for 2-3 minutes as the flour cooks. Be careful not to scorch the custard in the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and than add the vanilla extract. When the custard is cool, fill the prepared pastry case. The remaining custard can be kept in the fridge for a week, or it can be frozen.
2 ripe pears
2 tbsp apricot jam (or fig jam)
2 tbsp water
Peel and core pears and cut into thin slices. Arrange in two rounds on top of the custard. Put the jam and water in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring so the jam softens. Using a pastry brush, carefully brush the jam over the pears.
This dessert really doesn’t need anything else, it’s deliciously smooth and creamy and not too sweet!