In this tart, poached pears are sliced and sit atop pear cream. The bottom crust is studded with candied ginger. Look for ripe but firm pears. I noted Bartlett pears in the recipe but Anjou, Bosc or Seckel pears could be easily substituted—as long as they have firm enough flesh to stand up to poaching. This cooking process is perfect for pears as they become tender but don’t fall apart. The combination of the delicately flavored pears with the billowy pear cream and the candied ginger in the crust is truly delicious. This tart is full of flavor without being overly sweet. It’s really perfect as is but if I had to choose an accompaniment, it would be caramel sauce.
Candied Ginger Tart Dough:
1½ sticks unsalted cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup white wine
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
1-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into 6 smaller pieces
3 large ripe/firm Bartlett pears
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
3 tablespoons Poire William (or other sweet pear liqueur)
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup pear poaching liquid
2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the tart dough, combine flour and crystallized ginger and set aside. Let butter sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Cream butter and confectioners’ sugar in mixing bowl either by hand or using a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg yolk. Beat until well blended.
Add half the flour/ginger mixture and mix until crumbly. Add remaining flour/ginger and heavy cream and mix dough until it’s a sticky mass. Shape dough into a round shape and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate dough until firm (about an hour).
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to ¼-inch thick. Center dough over a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough into the sides using your thumb. Trim excess dough (which can be frozen for future use). Use a fork to prick holes all over the dough to prevent bubbles when baking and freeze for 2 hours.
Remove dough from freezer and bake immediately at 375°F for approximately 20 minutes or until the dough is a golden brown. Remove tart crust from the oven and cool to room temperature.
For the poached pears, mix ingredients (except for pears and cornstarch) in large saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Peel pears, leaving the stem on, and core from the bottom using a melon baller or paring knife. Add pears to the liquid and poach on low heat for 30–45 minutes or until tender. Remove pears from liquid to cool. Reserve ¾-cup of the poaching liquid and set aside to use for the glaze.
For the pear cream, set a strainer over a bowl. In another bowl, mix egg yolks, sugar and salt until well combined. Stir in cornstarch and set aside. In a saucepan, heat milk with vanilla and ginger until scalding. Pour heated milk slowly into egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Next, transfer the heated milk/egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Pour the custard through the strainer into the clean bowl and add pear liqueur. Place plastic wrap over the surface of the pear cream and refrigerate. When pear cream is very cold, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into chilled pear cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the glaze, strain the ¾ cup poaching liquid and boil until liquid is reduced by half. In a small bowl mix cornstarch and 3 tablespoons hot poaching liquid. Whisk until well combined. Add this mixture to the remaining poaching liquid and cook on medium heat whisking constantly until thickened.
To assemble tart, spoon pear cream into tart shell. Slice chilled poached pears and arrange in a circular pattern, slightly overlapping on top of cream, and brush pears with glaze. Refrigerate tart at least 1 hour and up to 2 days before serving, sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg, if you like.
Lisa Sewall graduated from Johnson and Wales in Providence. She then came to Boston and worked at Biba, before going to Nantucket to work at the White Elephant, Summer House, and Wauwinet. She returned to Boston and was the Pastry Chef at L’Espalier (where she met, Jeremy, her husband.) For five years, she lived in Northern California as the opening Pastry Chef at Ondine in Sausalito. In 2006, she and Jeremy opened Lineage in Brookline. Lisa and Jeremy have three kids which keeps her out of professional kitchens for the moment!