As my harshest critic, I rarely, no, NEVER, make statements of this nature however the time has come where I have finally blown my own mind; ladies and gents, this has to be one of the most fabulous thing I’ve ever created.
I was invited to take part in Australian Pears’ What Can You Pair with a Pear competition for Australian Pear Month and naturally I couldn’t resist the challenge; from a very young age I never enjoyed the pear (I’ll put it down to an amazing aversion to soft fruit) but lately I’ve been sneaking pear into my salads to shed the irrational reluctance. Also, have you ever experienced the joy of receiving fresh produce via courier? Feels good, man.
A few ideas for a new pear dish included salads and poaching etc however I ended up a little carried away so this may be a little lengthy for the Australian Pears were after (err, sorry!). For those wanting to try this recipe; I prepared the crisp, crème pâtissière and pastry on one day one, baked the tart shells and filled them on day two and blow-torched on day three.
The pear flavour isn’t overwhelming but instead offers a massive hit of freshness behind the crème pâtissière. The tart shells are buttery and sweet and of course the brûlée provides a shardy crack and amazing crunch. And as for the embedded pear crisp; well, it’s like eating magically charred toffee pear. It’s one of those rare occasions where completely winging it resulted in complete success! The only thing I’d considering trying for next time is using a little more pear purée. This recipe makes four 12cm tarts, or, many little tartlets.
Pear Vanilla Bean Brûlée Tarts + Pear Crisp
(an original recipe)
Pear crème pâtissière
2 Williams pears, peeled, cores removed
1/2 vanilla bean
100g (approx. 5) egg yolks
100g caster sugar
60g corn flour
60g pure icing sugar
Pinch of salt
120g cold butter
30ml cold water
1 cup sugar
For the pear crisp
1. Preheat oven to 100°C.
2. Slice pear along its cross section and very finely slice with a mandolin. Transfer to baking tray and bake for 2-3 hours, checking occasionally, until pieces have dried out. Store in a sealed container until use.
For the pear crème pâtissière
1. Roughly chop pears and purée in a food processor. Push through a fine sieve.
2. In a separate bowl combine egg yolks, sugar and cornflour and whisk until combined.
3. Over medium heat place pear purée, cream and scraped, split vanilla bean and stir continuously. Heat until just beginning to boil. Slowly pour mixture into bowl of yolk mixture to temper then return to pan and heat. Again, whisk continuously until beginning to thicken, this should take a few minutes.
4. Decant into another bowl, remove vanilla bean husk and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to touch. Gradually add cubed butter, whisking after each addition.
5. Return plastic wrap and place in fridge to cool completely.
For the pastry
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Combine flour, icing sugar and and salt in a food processor. Cube butter, add to mix and process once more. Add the cold water and once again process until mixture forms a ball. Remove, form into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a few hours (or until cool if you’re in a hurry).
3. Roll out pastry, stamp out circles and prepare into tart greased tart tins. Fill with pastry weights (or rice, or beans) and bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and bake for a further 15 minutes until browned and cooked through. Remove from tart tins and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the assembly
1. Carefully spoon pear crème pâtissière into tart shells until just overflowing. Flatten with a palette knife and allow to cool and set in the fridge for at least a few hours. Once ready (the surface will have firmed up) sprinkle with an even layer of sugar and scorch with a kitchen blow-torch until toffee has formed. Place a pear crisp round in the centre, sprinkle with more sugar and again scorch with blow-torch until toasted and embedded. Serve immediately with additional pear crisps on the side.
Or rather; enjoy immediately. Happy Australian Pear month!