Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fruit Tart (The Pear Version)

Shawn's favorite dessert is fruit. (I know.) I truly wish that fruit, unadulterated, were my favorite dessert, but it's not; in most cases I like mine adulterated. If it's not straight-up fruit, he likes his desserts heavily based in fruit. So for his birthday, and sometimes for other special occasions like Valentine's Day, we'll have a fruit tart, which we both loooooove. Up until recent months, we always bought them, either from Wegman's or Whole Foods. Well, I'm sorry to be tacky and talk money on here, but they're so darn expensive! Who has nearly $30 to spend on dessert?? We rarely spend that much on dinner! Usually we'll settle for small, individual tarts, but they're still about $5 a piece, and I really want that $5 for things like Nutella and butter. Something had to be done, so I decided to bite the bullet and learn how to make my own fruit tarts. What took me so long? Pastry crusts are infamously finicky, I was worried I couldn't get the filling to be as good as the kind at Wegman's and, consequently, disappoint my husband, and I was also certain I'd never be able to get that gorgeous, glossy shine.

I knew I needed Ina. The girl never fails me. Turns out, fruit tarts are not even close to as hard as I imagined, especially the glossy shine part! The dough is still finicky, but I read the directions carefully and did exactly as I was told and it came out SO GREAT!

(I have to apologize ahead of time for the photo. I didn't get a chance to take pictures before the sun went down, the house lighting was just not my friend, and I had to take pictures before we all dug in. At least you'll get the idea, right?)

Pear Tart adapted from Ina Garten's Strawberry Tarts recipe 

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
2 pears, sliced as thinly as you can width-wise, and then cut in half (to form thin half moons) (Wait to slice the pears until you're ready to top the tart, or they'll brown.)
4 large whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup apricot jelly

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Now, be careful with this next step, because you really have just one shot to get it right without making the dough pretty difficult to work with. Roll out the dough and fit into a 10-inch tart pan with removable sides. Don't stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Before serving, fill the tart shell with the pastry cream. Arrange the pear slices and strawberries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts and serve.
Pastry Cream

5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. (Do not skip that step!) Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

Yield: 2 cups

1 comment:

  1. I must not know much about photography because I think your pics are amazing even if you don't. By the way, I always break that commandment about adulterated fruit. (as you know)