Gingery Pear and Custard Tart
This elegant pear tart, combining the classic flavorings of ginger and pear, is made with sweet pastry dough (pâte sucrée) in one bottom crust.
Makes 8 servings
1 sweet pastry crust, uncooked (see below)
For the pear custard filling:
4 ripe pears such as Bartlett, not too large
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup cream
2 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger, or to taste
For the sweet pastry dough (pâte sucrée):
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut in
pieces (¾ stick)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice or cold water
First make the pastry crust (this can be done a day or two ahead). Put the flour in a food processor with the sugar, salt, and butter. Process briefly until the butter is chopped into very small pieces. Add the egg and lemon juice or water and process just until the dough begins to clump on the blades. You may need to add a little more cold liquid. Wrap the flattened ball of dough in plastic and chill well, for an hour or more.
Roll the dough out into a thin round on a lightly floured pastry board and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan (do not use a false-bottom pan for this recipe). Trim and crimp the edge as you wish, making a high rim to contain the juices and custard. Wrap loosely in plastic and chill thoroughly, for an hour or more, until baking time.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
One at a time, peel the pears; half them lengthwise and remove the cores and stems with a melon baller or paring knife. Lay them on a board and slice them across about ¼- to 1/8-inch thick. With a spatula, carefully lay them in the prepared pie crust with the stem end in the center, and angle them towards the rim. If your pears are large, you may be able to fit in only 7 halves. They should fit snugly. You can chop up the leftover bits to put in the crevasses. Set the tart on a baking sheet.
In a small bowl mix together the egg and honey, then stir in the cream until well blended. Pour the mixture over the pears (do not overfill). Scatter the minced ginger on top; most of it will sink. With a steady hand carefully put the tart on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake (rotating once midway) until the crust turns pale brown, the pears become tender, and the custard golden, about 40 minutes. Let cool before cutting the tart into wedges for serving.