For special holiday entertaining, my family really enjoys Chocolate Pear Tart. This classic tart is an elegant and delicious dessert. Not too sweet, with layers of rich flavor, Chocolate Pear Tart also makes a good breakfast treat.
The crust, a pate brisee, is the French version of a classic pie or tart pastry. Rich and buttery, with a crisp and crumbly texture, the pastry is easily prepared in a food processor. Unlike traditional New England crusts with flour and fat, this pastry includes an egg yolk. The egg yolk strengthens the structure, and allows you to pat the dough into a tart pan without making it too tough to eat. (For those new to pate brisee, Martha Stewart has an excellent step-by-step video.)
Once the tart pan has been lined with the pate brisse, a thin layer of chocolate is sprinkled over the top. I like to use semi-sweet chocolate chips, but bittersweet chocolate is good too. Thinly sliced pears are then decoratively arranged over the chocolate. The pears are topped with creamy custard, and sprinkled with sugar.
Although pears and chocolate are a classic taste combination, the last time I prepared this tart was with Northwestern Greening apples. This apple variety has a storied history. Originally from Iola, Wisconsin, a bushel of NW greening apples won first prize at the 1892 Chicago’s World Fair.
The folks at Out on a Limb introduced this apple variety to Maine in 2012. The flesh is tart and crisp, with pear overtones. We found it a perfect match for our Chocolate Pear (or Apple) tart.
CHOCOLATE PEAR TART
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 7 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 1 – 2 tablespoons milk as needed
- 4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate about ½ cup
- 3 ripe pears or 4 small apples
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup light cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- To prepare the crust, in the bowl of your food processor, blend the flour and sugar. Pulse in the butter, and then the egg yolk. The dough should form large crumbs that you can pat into a large ball. If needed, add some milk so that it just sticks together. Make a smooth ball, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
- Generously butter a 10-inch tart pan and sprinkle with sugar. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and line the tart pan. Sprinkle the bottom of the tart crust with the chocolate chips. Peel and thinly slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a flower petal design on the chocolate so the slices overlap.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the 2 eggs, cream and vanilla. Spoon the custard over the pears. Sprinkle the top with 3 tablespoons sugar.
- Bake the tart in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until the bottom cooks. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until the crust is golden brown and the custard is set, about 15 – 20 minutes. If desired, the pears may be caramelized under the broiler for 2 – 3 minutes.