Courtesy of Mary Sommers
This will make one 10″ Tart. You will need a 10″ removable bottom tart pan.
Peel, cut in half and core 3 pears. Poach them until soft in the following liquid.
After pears are softened by poaching, cool them and slice them very thin from the stem end through the blossom end. Place them on paper towels to drain while you make the crust and the filling.
Poached Pear Tart
1–1/2 cups red wine
1 cup sugar
1 bay leaf
1 twig of fresh thyme
3 black peppercorns
1 Vanilla Bean, cut and scraped
1/2 lemon, sliced
1–1/2 cups pastry flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter
2 heaping tablespoons shortening
1 egg yolk
4 oz. ice water
Vanilla Bean Custard
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 Vanilla Bean, cut and scraped in the milk
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
Mix the salt with the flour. Cut the fat into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives until it is the consistency of peas or cornmeal. Mix the yolk with the ice water. Make a well in the flour/butter mixture and pour half of the liquid into the flour and stir with a fork. Add water as needed until it just holds together (you may not need to add all the water as the dough should not be sticky).
Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes or until the dough is cold but still malleable. Roll out to fit the tart pan. Be sure to seat it into the corner of the pan so it doesn’t shrink while baking.
Bake the tart shell using metal “baking beans” or line the shell with parchment paper and use dried beans or rice. Push the beans to the edges of the shell to hold the sides up while baking.
Bake the tart shell in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes and then remove the beans and bake another 5-10 minutes, making sure it is baked thoroughly. Cool.
Heat the milk with 1/4 cup sugar and the vanilla bean.
Whisk together the eggs, cornstarch and sugar. (Note: it will be less lumpy if you mix the cornstarch and sugar together first before adding the eggs.)
When the milk has scalded, pour some of it into the egg mixture and stir. Then pour egg mixture into the hot milk and cook on low heat until it is very thick and forms a ribbon on top of the custard that doesn’t disappear. Chill.
When the custard has cooled, remove the vanilla bean hull.
To Assemble the Tart
Put chilled custard into the cooled tart shell and spread evenly. Carefully place the pears around the edge of the pan so the stem ends all meet in the center and fan them as you place them in the tart. Use a large flat knife or cake spatula to do this, scooping it up from underneath the pear.
To Make Glaze for Pears
Reduce the liquid to half by cooking on high heat. Watch syrup carefully so it doesn’t boil out and burn. Add 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water.
Stir until clear and thick. Remove and chill before carefully brushing the mixture over pears with a pastry brush. Chill tart before serving.
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