Oh, Spring! At last, you seem to be rearing up and stretching your arms! Blow your breezes and bring on your showers! We are so ready for open windows and clean sweeps!
In celebration of the first sunny warm day of the season here at the grey cottage, I planted pansies and made a tart. Two perfect pears, hazelnuts, and bittersweet chocolate, eggs and a pastry shell made for a sweet tart that we gobbled whilst we tuned into the Boston Red Sox Opening Day game (which we taped so we could watch in the evening after dinner). Spring has sprung!
I have returned to working on the hexagon quilt, which readers of The Spice Garden will remember as my four year project ... or the one I take to my grave, depending on how attentive I am at working on it during Sox games!
Pear and Hazelnut Tart
Serves 4 - 6
1 pre-baked sweet pastry tart shell ( 9-inch or 4 x 13-inch pan)
1/4 c. roasted hazelnuts
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 - 3 pears, peeled, quartered, and cored
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2c. plus 2 tbsp. ground hazelnuts
Making the Tart:
- Place the prepared pears in a small saucepan with the water, sugar, and vanilla extract.
- Bring to a gentle boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer until the pears are just knife tender.
- Immediately remove from the stove and remove from the sugar syrup with a slotted spoon. Place on a plate and cool. Return the pan to the stove and bring the syrup to a boil, reduce the syrup until it is thickened a bit. remove from the heat and set aside.
- Prepare a hazelnut cream by mixing the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and cornstarch in a bowl.
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan just until it comes to a boil. Stirring constantly, add the hot milk to the egg mixture, stirring to make a thick sauce.
- Return the mixture to the pan and bring to a bubble, stirring for about a minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the ground hazelnuts to make a thick creamy paste.
- Have a pre-baked pastry shell ready … spread the hazelnut cream in the bottom of the tart shell.
- Place the pear quarters into the shell atop the cream paste, rounded sides up. Fill in any gaps by slicing the last pear quarter into smaller pieces and tucking them into place.
- Use a basting brush to brush some of the pear syrup over top the pears.
- Melt the chocolate and drizzle it over the pears in a pattern you like.
- Chill the tart for at least two hours and then serve plain or with your favorite topper.
I lifted the tart recipe from Eric Lanlard's book about tarts and pies. I'll say that I liked everything about the tart except his crust recipe for 'sweet flaky pastry dough'. I found the dough heavy and thick. Maybe it was the way I handled the dough, but next time, I think I'd stick to my usual pie crust recipe. Isn't it funny how we all have our favorite recipes for crusts?
So, I guess the punchline for this post is ... enjoy the tart fillings, but use your own favorite pie crust recipe! Nom, nom! OH! AND ... while I'm at it I think I'll link this pretty little tart post up with Dom's simply eggcellent link party for April! Dom has suggested that we channel eggs and chocolate this month ... tra-la! This part fits the bill!