Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TWD: Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart

 Lauren of  I'll Eat You-  selected Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart. This is a beautiful tart full of rich autumn colors. The deep rosy pears were just right on top of  the light colored pastry cream, sprinkled with caramelized pistachio nuts and finished with a drizzle of a the deep red reduction of the poaching liquid. The sweet buttery crust was the perfect crunch under the smooth pastry cream and tender pears. Dorie says the reduction sauce is option, but I disagree- it is a must for this tart. On the other hand, although I loved the caramelized pistachio nuts as a snack, I didn't think they did too much for the tart, other than being a garnish.

This delicious tart was easy to make since all of the parts could be prepared well ahead of time leaving the final assembly the only step prior to serving. I would I make it again, but I would  use almonds in place of pistachios in the pastry cream, because the pistachios flavor was over powered by the almond extract and I always have almonds on hand.

 Rosy Pear Tart
Baking, From my home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan


For the Pastry Cream:
2/3 c shelled pistachios
7 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/3 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
3 Tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup sour cream, if you do not strain nuts from pastry cream

For the Poached Pears:
3 cups fruity red wine (shiraz, syrah, zinfandel)
zest of one orange, cut into long strips
zest on one lemon, cut into long strips
3/4 cup sugar
5 ripe but firm medium pears
small lemon wedge

For the Caramelized pistachios:
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 c shelled pistachios

For the Sauce (optional)
poaching syrup from pears
2 tablespoons honey

1 9 inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough (or any pastry) fully baked
To Make the Pastry Cream:
Put the pistachios and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground, about one minute. Turn the nuts into a medium heavy bottom saucepan, add the milk, and bring to a boil.  While the milk is heating, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar,
the yolks and the cornstarch in a bowl. When well blended, whisk in the vanilla and almond extracts. Whisking constantly, drizzle in one quarter of the hot milk to temper, or warm the yolks so they don't cook. Add the remaining milk in a steady stream. Pour mixture back into the saucepan, put the pan on medium heat, and, whisking energetically, bring to a boil. Boil, whisking, for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat.

You can scrape the pastry cream into a clean bowl, in which case it won't be smooth, or if you want smooth cream, press the cream through a strainer, leaving the nuts behind; I usually leave the nuts in. Piece by piece, stir the butter into the pastry cream.  Scrape the cream into a container, press apiece of plastic wrap directly against the cream's surface, cover and refrigerate for at lest 4 hours, up to 4 days.

To Poach the Pears:
Put the wine, citrus zests and sugar into a large narrow pot, one that will hold the pears snugly, and bring to a boil.
Peel the pears and immediately rub them with lemon to keep them from darkening. Reduce the heat under the pot so that the wine simmers gently and lower the pears into the pot. Cut a circle of parchment or wax paper to fit inside the pot and press the paper against the tops of the pears, Partially cover the pot and simmer, turning the pears if needed so they are evenly colored by the poaching liquid, for about 30 minutes or until tender. test the pears by poking them with the point of a paring knife. Remove pan from the heat.  Transfer the pears to a heat proof bowl and pour over the poaching syrup; cool to room temperature. These can be covered and kept in the refrigerator of up to
3 days.

To Caramelize the Pistachios:
Place a piece of parchment or a silicone mat on the counter near your stove. Put the sugar and water in a small non stick skillet or saucepan over medium high heat and stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook without stirring until the sugar has reached an amber colored caramel. Add the nuts and stir without p until the sugar becomes a dark caramel color and
coats the nuts. Turn the nuts onto the parchment or baking mat and spread as best you can.  When the nuts are cool, chop them coarsely. Keep in a cool dry place till needed.

To Make the Optional Sauce
30 minutes before assembling the tart, remove pears from the poaching syrup. Put the syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the honey and boil until the syrup is thick enough to coat a metal spoon. Pour into a container and chill until needed.

To Assemble the Tart
Cut the pears lengthwise in half, scoop out the cores and trim the stems and center veins as needed. Place pears cut side down on a triple thickness of paper towels. Cover with another triple thickness of paper towels and pat dry. Leave them between the paper towels until the excess liquid is absorbed, changing paper towels if needed. When the pears are dry, cut each pear lengthwise into 4 to 6 slices.  If you did not strain the nuts from the pastry cream, mix in 1/4 cup of sour cream to thin it a little. Spread the pastry cream in the baked tart shell (you may have some left over). Top the pastry cream with the pear slices, arranging in slightly overlapping concentric circles. Scatter the caramelized pistachios over the tart and serve with wine sauce, if desired. The tart can be covered and
kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.

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