The pear. A belittled fruit quite often outshone by its more round and less gritty cousin, the apple. Free formed and more oblong the pear sneaks up on you in the height of early autumn, impishly enticing you with its warm hues and earthy bouquet. Delicate are its features. The skin, fragile and imperfectly speckled. The flesh, textured and permeable. The sweet, slightly thick nectar that will undoubtedly end up on your chin. One bite fills you with wistful longings of curry shaded leaves crunching beneath your feet, a penetrable breeze weaving its way through your hair, and the priceless moment when you realize the most poetic of seasons has given you its choicest fruit.
Though a pear is beautifully satisfying on its own I must say when poached in warm spices it takes on a new form, one that is mysterious and comforting. This tart is a simple way to experience the pear at its finest. Poached slowly in sweet white wine, cinnamon and vanilla the pears take on an incandescently soft nature. The custard, made with raw cocoa butter and laced with chai spices, is a creamy curd like spread that compliments the pears without outshining them.
Nutty and slightly sweet from the almonds the crust creates a lovely shell for the smooth custard and soft pears. Though it holds its form nicely the almond crust crumbles perfectly in your mouth leaving you with little remembrance of your grandmother's traditional tart crust recipe.
So as you carve your pumpkins and watch the leaves swirl like gossamer in a cool breeze remember 'tis the season of the pear, a most delicate fruit sure to compliment any autumn feast.
Almond Tart Crust
- 3 cups Almond Flour
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup melted ghee (or butter or oil of your choice)
- 2 TBSP water
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Grease a 13x5 rectangular tart pan and form the crust with the dough.
Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until edges are slightly golden brown.
Riesling Poached Pears
- 5 cups water
- 3 cups Riesling, or sweet white wine of choice
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla pod (reserve seeds for chai custard)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 4 slightly firm but ripe Bosc pears (you could use any pear of your choice)
Place all ingredients except for pears in a stock pot and bring to a bowl. Meanwhile peel the pears (I left the stem on for presentation) and cut in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife remove the core and bottom. Once liquid is to a boil carefully place pears in liquid and reduce to medium heat. Cook pears for 45 minutes to an hour or until very tender.
- 6 TBSP cocoa butter ( I buy Artisana Raw Cacao Butter at Whole Foods. Each block is 3 TBSP. DO NOT USE the cocoa butter found in the lotion/beauty aisle)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 whole star anise
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- pinch of ground all spice
- 5 egg yolks
- vanilla seeds (scraped from the vanilla pod used in the poached pears)
Place honey and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add cocoa butter, star anise and spices. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Discard star anise and return pot to heat. Bring to a simmer and add the egg yolks stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Stir and stir some more until the custard coats the back of the spoon and when you run your finger across it leaves a streak. Be sure to not overcook!!
Remove from heat, pour custard into a metal or glass bowl, stir in vanilla seeds and place in the fridge (the freezer will expedite this process). The custard will thicken significantly as it cools. After 30-45 minutes or so the custard should be set (less time if put in the freezer). When serving you do not want the custard to be super cold and definitely not frozen so as soon as it thickens take it out and pour in tart shell.
Fill tart shell with custard and place the poached pears on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.