Fabulous Poached Pear and Brown Butter Tart

September 13, 2012

Poached pear and brown butter tart is a fabulous dessert.  Fall fruit is beginning to appear in the market.  Crisp apples, juicy pears, and sweet grapes are filling the stalls and enticing passersby.  Delicate poached pears are baked in custard within a homemade crust.  This tart is creamy, crumbly, and nutty - all components in a winning dessert. 

Poached Pear and Brown Butter Tart

For the crust:
1/4 cup of sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1 tablespoon egg yolk whisked together with 4 of ice water
 
For the poached pears:
6 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
4 cloves
One cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of vanilla abstract
4 Bosc pears—peeled, cored and quartered
 
For the filling:
4 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Make the tart crust (can be done a day ahead). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and butter an 11 inch removable bottom tart pan.
 
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times, until combined. Add in the butter, pulsing until the mixture resembles small peas. Pour in the egg yolk-water mixture, pulsing until the dough is crumbly. Add more flour if it is too wet.
 
Press the dough into the tart pan, making an even crust. Tamp it down with a glass. Pierce the crust with a fork a few times and chill for 15-20 minutes.
 
Bake for about 25 minutes, until the crust is set and golden brown. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
 
In a large pot, combine the water, wine, sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick, sage leaf, and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes before adding the pears. Cover the pot with parchment paper and a lid, cooking over medium heat for about 25 minutes (until the pears are soft, but not falling apart.
 
Remove the pears from the pot with a slotted spoon and cut the quarters in half.
 
Now make the filling by cooking the butter in a small pot over medium heat for about 4 minutes (until golden brown, and giving off a nutty aroma). Pour into a cup.
 
Whisk the eggs with the sugar, vanilla, zest and salt. Add in the flour, beating until smooth. Next, add the butter, beating until incorporated.
 
Pour the filling into the crust and arrange the pears in a circle on top, with the thin ends pointing towards the center. Cut a few wedges in half and arrange in the middle.
 
Bake for about an hour to hour and fifteen minutes, until the custard is set, and golden. Dust with powdered sugar, once the tart has cooled. Serve with a scoop of ice cream.

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