RUSTIC PEAR TART
Pears are gorgeous out of hand eating fruit. If you just can't wait until the fruit is ripe, however, slightly hard pears are perfect for tarts. A bit of sugar and butter is all you need to coax them to perfection. The crispy crunch of the crust paired with the smooth velvet texture of the baked pears is divine.
Nota bene: If you have convection, use it but lower the temperature 25 degrees F and begin checking at 35 minutes. Every oven cooks differently. If pressed for time, high-quality puff pastry sheets deliver a beautiful alternative in half the time. Just unfold cold, defrosted sheet and begin at step 6.
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and diced
1/2 cup ice water
6-8 Bartlett or Bosc pears, firm
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
4 tablespoons butter, diced in tiny pieces
1/2 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons Poire Williams (pear flavored liqueur)
1. Put the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds. Add the 12 tablespoons unsalted butter and pulse a few times until the butter is evenly cut into the flour.
2. Turn on the processor and slowly add the ice water until the dough comes together.
3. Dump the mixture onto a floured surface and pat into a circle 1 inch thick.
4. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate one hour, or up to two days.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large (11-inch) round pizza tray with parchment paper (turn tray over, trace circle and cut out).
6. Put chilled pastry in center of tray and roll within ½ inch of edge. Trim excess pastry with a pizza cutter to make a uniform circle.
7. Peel the pears and cut them in half. Use a small lemon baller to remove seeds. Cut pears crosswise into uniform ¼ inch slices.
8. Begin at the inside of the circle and begin making a floral design, over lapping pears in concentric circles.
9. Sprinkle pears with the sugar and then dot with the remaining 4 tablespoons of diced butter.
10. Put a ½ sheet pan lined with aluminum below pear tart to catch juices and keep oven clean. Bake for 45 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the pears caramelize. Halfway through the baking time, rotate the pan.
11. The juice and sugar at the edges will burn. No worries, the tart will be delicious!
12. Remove tart and let cool.
13. In a very small saucepan, heat the jam and Poire Williams together. Brush the jam mixture over the pears to make it glossy.
14. Loosen the tart with a spatula and slide onto a serving tray.