Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sweet Sunday: Roasted Pear Tart

Once you've roasted pears that make their own caramel sauce (see: Roasted Caramel Pears with Crème Fraîche and Toasted Pistachios), it's a short, easy ride to make this roasted pear tart.

I used a sweet tart dough (from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" I highly recommend his cookbooks), 4 ounces each crème fraîche and fromage frais as the filling, drizzled the caramel sauce from the roasted pears over the fruit and garnished with toasted ground pistachios. All-in-all pretty simple. You can roast the pears the day before as well as make the tart dough and refrigerate that until the next day.

The assembled tart needs to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before you serve it; the extra sliver I stashed in the refrigerator tasted great the next day, too. After chilling the tart, take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving.
Crème fraîche and fromage blanc, combined.
What is this "fromage blanc", you may ask? Fromage blanc is a creamy soft cheese made with cows milk. and not cream (like crème fraîche) and as Cowgirl Creamery makes it, it is what American grocery store cream cheese can only dream it could be but never will be. It has about 30% less fat than regular U.S. cream cheese and I think it's exponentially better. I wanted the tartness and rich, creamy taste of the crème fraîche to be there but not so forward. The fromage blanc was the perfect pairing. Look for it in your neighborhood from a good purveyor, buy and taste some and I'll bet you like it. A lot.


Serves: 8
Sweet Tart Shell recipe from: "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian", by Mark Bittman

CARAMEL ROASTED PEARS-------------------------------------------------------
Equipment: Refer to: Roasted Caramel Pears with Crème Fraîche and Toasted Pistachios
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 medium bosc pears, just ripe - at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups apple cider, or water (may not be necessary)
  • Follow STEPS 1 and 2 for roasting the pears in this recipe: Roasted Caramel Pears with Crème Fraîche and Toasted Pistachios
  • After the pears halves have cooled, remove them;  drain off and reserve the caramel sauce. Store the pears and sauce in separate covered bowls or containers. If you are making the pears the day ahead, store the pears and sauce covered, separately in the refrigerator in air-tight containers.
  • When you assemble the tart, the caramel sauce should be the consistency of warmed honey - viscous, yet free-flowing. If your sauce is too thin or thick, follow the recommendations in STEP 3 of  Roasted Caramel Pears with Crème Fraîche and Toasted Pistachios to make any necessary adjustments.
SWEET TART SHELL---------------------------------------------------------------
Equipment:  1 - 9" or 10" tart pan, a little flour in order to roll-out the dough, foil, a little butter to grease the foil  and 2 cups of raw rice, dried beans or pie weights and a pastry scraper to lift the dough. If you don't have a pastry scraper, you can use a length of dental floss and slide it under the dough to loosen it from your board.

Ingredients: Sweet Tart Shell
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almond meal (or other ground nuts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 tablespoons frozen or very cold butter, cut into 1/3" chunks
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons ice water (more or less may be required)
Preparation: Sweet Tart Shell
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add the chilled or frozen butter all at once and process until the mixture is uniform (no more than 10 seconds). Add the egg yolk and process for 4 more seconds.
  2. Remove this mixture to a bowl and add the ice water until you can form the dough into a ball. If it's too dry (the dough ball cracks or doesn't hold together), add more ice water 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Form the dough into a ball, slightly flattened, wrap tightly in plastic and chile in the refrigerator for  at least 1 hour. You can refrigerate up to a couple of days, or freeze for up to a couple of weeks.
Rolling-Out and Pre-baking the Tart Shell
  1. If the dough was frozen, remove the dough - the day or night before you plan to assemble the tart - to the refrigerator. When you remove the dough from the refrigerator bash it gently just enough (not like you're swinging hammer!) 4 to 6 times in order to be able to roll it out.
  2. Lightly dust your surface with flour place the dough on the surface and roll in one direction, making a 1/4 turn after each roll until the dough is 2" in diameter larger than your tart pan. If your dough is sticking to the rolling surface, pick up the dough (this is where the pastry (or bench) scraper or length of dental floss may comes in handy) on each side and dust your surface with a little flour.
  3. Drape 1/2 of the dough over the rolling pin (again, have the pastry or bench scraper or dental floss nearby) and place it on top of the tart pan, centering it.
  4. Press the dough into the pan gently, including all of the nooks and crannies. If there is some cracking, or thin parts, patch with dough scraps being careful not to make your patched areas thicker than the rest of the the dough.
  5. When you are done, use a knife to cut-off the excess. 
  6. Wrap the tart pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. I have tried freezing the tart dough for 30 minutes, but my tart shells tend to shrink when I use that method, but not when I refrigerate the dough for an entire hour - or up to two hours. If you're in a rush and cannot wait for an hour, wrap and freeze the dough for 30 minute and accept the shrinkage.
  7. While the dough is chilling down, pre-heat the oven to 425F, rack in the middle. When the oven has pre-heated, remove the tart pan with the dough from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Prick (dock) the dough all over with a fork, evenly spaced (10 to 15 times). .Butter a length of foil and place it into the pan butter side down on top of the dough pressing very gently to get it into the shape of the dough in the pan. Place the pie weights (raw rice, dried beans or pie weights) on top of the foil.
  8. Place the prepared tart shell on the middle rack and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the tart pan from the oven and remove the foil and the weights. Return the tart shell to the oven, reduce the temperature to 350F and continue to back until the crust is entirely golden brown as this tart recipe requires no additional baking.
  9. Cool the tart shell  completely on a wire rack (in the tart pan) before assembling the tart.
TART FILLING--------------------------------------------------------------- 
  • 4 oz crème fraîche
  • 4 oz fromage blanc (substitute: whole milk ricotta, beaten smooth or cream cheese)
Combine crème fraîche and fromage blanc until smooth and homogenous

Ingredients: Pistachio Garnish

ASSEMBLING THE TART---------------------------------------------------------------
Have ready:
  • Pre-baked and cooled tart shell
  • Crème fraîche and fromage blanc filling
  • Roasted pears and caramel sauce
  • Ground or chopped pistachio garnish

  1. Spread the filling in the tart shell
  2. Slice the roasted pears into 1/4" vertical slices and arrange, starting at the outside, in circles on top of the filling.
  3. Drizzle around 1/3 cup of the caramel syrup evenly over top of the roasted pear slices
  4. Garnish with the toasted, ground or finely chopped pistachios
  5. Wrap the tart with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Remove 1 hour before serving to come up to room temperature.

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