Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pear Pastry Cream Tart

I came across a bunch of pears which weren't going to be eaten.  It is my nature to use up everything and let as little go to waste as I can.  When I came into these Comice pears which were starting to die a slow rotting death, I had to take them and turn them into something wonderful.  I couldn't find a recipe which I wanted to make.  I read through cookbooks and decided to piece meal them into something else...a pear pastry cream tart.  I made a basic tart crust and baked it.  Then I made a creamy pastry cream to coat the beautifully baked crust.  Then, I topped it with lovely slices of pears to cover the pastry cream.  Finally, I added a light glaze as a final touch.

Short Crust Pastry:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the flour, sugar and salt.  Cut the butter into 1/2 inch slices and work into the flour until the pieces are small and it is beginning to hold together.  Combine water and vanilla and work it into the flour mixture.  Put it into a ball and refrigerate.  Let rest for 30 minutes.  Press into a 9 inch tart pan.  Place the shell into the freezer for 30 minutes prior to baking (wrapped in foil).  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Bake for 25 minutes or until light brown and baked through.

Pastry Cream:
2 cups milk
1/3 cup flour
6 tablespoons vanilla sugar
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Heat milk to just under boiling.  Mix the flour and sugar in a heat saucepan.  Beat egg yolks until thick and light colored.  Whisk the hot milk until the flour and sugar mixture and cook over medium heat until the mixture has boiled for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.

Whisk a little of the mixture into the eggs to heat them a little and stir into the flour mixture.  Mix well and cook over medium heat until the pastry begins to hold shape, stirring continuously.   The temperature should reach 170 F.  Do not let it boil.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Strain through a fine strainer.  Cool and whisk occasionally to keep a crust from forming or cover with plastic and refrigerate until cool.  Whisk before pouring into the baked shell to smooth, but do not over whisk or it will thin out. 

Poached Pears:
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups water
2 inch piece of vanilla bean
1 1/2 pound pears
2 tablespoon apricot jam

Bring the sugar, water and vanilla bean to a boil in a sauce pan.  Quarter, core and peel the pears and add them to the hot syrup.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until pears are cooked through.  Remove from syrup and place on a plate to chill them..

To assemble:  Spread the pastry cream in the bottom of the baked shell.  Drain the pears and cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Beginning from the outside place the pears in a circle, over lapping the edges. Continue until the pears cover the pastry cream.  Heat the jam until it bubbles and brush lightly over the pears.

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