I put far too much effort into thinking of a title for this post. In the end I just called these what they are, tarts made with truckloads of butter and filled with juicy ripe slices of pear or, flaky butter pear tarts.
I love how the idea to make something like this came into my head. I met a friend in the store recently, we used to work beside each other for many years and I found her staring at the pears She was contemplating baking but was trying to muster up some energy I think after finishing her shift. We got talking and she gave me a great recipe for the shortcrust pastry, I had to ask a few times to make sure the quantities were correct because it sounded like a lot of butter. Well, it turns out it was right, this pastry is so flaky and light it really melts in your mouth. I know that sounds cliche but trust me it really does, no lies, pinkie promise!
So I had the base for my pear tarts. Usually I’d have filled them with a pastry cream or pear puree, sat the pear slices on top and baked them like a traditional french tart. But to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered standing over the stove babysitting a batch of pastry cream. Then I remembered this Cherry Skillet Sponge Cake I made a few weeks ago. I loved the sponge and it worked great for that recipe but it’d be too dry for my pear tart. I had to find a way to keep it moist just like a pastry cream, but easier to make. The answer was vanilla pudding and It worked perfectly! The top became nice and crusty but the filling remained super moist and the pudding helped the flavor much more than sour cream or yogurt would have. I have to say I’m pretty proud of this one. It took me a few attempts but now the door is wide open to add other ingredients like raspberry jam on the bottom, apricots and plums instead of pears, chocolate or peanut butter. These little tarts are perfect for picnics or you could make a large version. Whatever size you make them, prepare for hero status!
Flaky Butter Pear Tarts
- For The Pastry Dough:
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter kept very cold and cut into small chunks, 8oz
- 2 1/2 tablespoons iced water
- For The Filling:
- 2 1/4 ounces unsalted butter softened
- 2 1/4 ounces sugar
- 1 large egg
- 6 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ounces I small tub ready made vanilla pudding 3 1/2
- 2 large ripe pears
- 2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling on top
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 6 four inch tart shells.
In a bowl combine the flour, salt and cold butter chunks. Rub them together with your fingertips until most of it has been squashed. You still want to keep large chunks as this helps with the pastry layers.
Add the iced water and gently mix together with your hand until a soft ball forms.
Wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Using a stand mixer, beat the soft butter and sugar together until light.
Add the egg and vanilla, beat until it's all well mixed together.
Fold the flour into the mixture and then the vanilla pudding. Set aside.
Once the pastry dough has rested, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out circles large enough to fill 6 four inch tart shells.
Place the dough into the tart molds and trim to fit. Transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes to rest.
Blind bake the pastry shells using parchment paper and dry beans in the oven for 20 minutes.
Once the shells have cooled slightly, fill them with about a heaped tablespoon of the filling mixture.
Peel the pears and slice into four wedges around the core.
Take each wedge of pear and slice it again thinly. This will be the pear slices which will go on top of your filling mixture.
Once you slice the pear thinly, push it down with your fingers to create the fanned look, place your knife below the slices and scoop them up and place them on top of the filling mixture.
Gently push the down slightly until some of the mixture comes up over the sides of the pear. This will give the tarts the look of the sponge top around the edges.
Sprinkle the tarts liberally with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Turn the oven up to 375 degrees F.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 55 minutes and the tops start to get golden brown in color.
Once the tarts have cooled, combine the water and sugar in a small pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes until it thickens into a syrup and using a pastry brush, carefully glaze the tops of the tarts to get a nice shine.
Make sure your work area is well dusted with flour when rolling out the pastry dough. Once the butter starts to get warm, it can stick to the table and your rolling pin, so work fast.
If you don't let the pastry rest in the freezer, the sides may shrink when baking.