Thursday, October 7, 2010


Summer's great, but I love the fruits of autumn. At the Santa Monica Farmer's market on Saturday, I asked a vendor if the Bartlett pears she had on display were ripe. Not quite, she said, they were still firm.

I told her I wanted the sweetest pears she had for a pie that very day, and she said, "Oh, then I'll give you some from my samples," and she reached into a box behind the counter. These were the ripest fruit, the ones she had sliced up to give as samples to shoppers.

They were bumped and bruised a bit and the flesh was soft and slippery and perfumed. She sold them to me for half price.

This is my French pear tart. It holds a secret - a thin layer of rich dark semisweet chocolate beneath the fruit and custard.

Line a tart pan with pastry - I always use the rich butter pastry from the Gordon Hamersley recipe.

Put a layer of finely chopped dark semisweet chocolate on the bottom of the tart shell. I used Ghiradelli semisweet morsels. You can put the morsels in whole, or you can chop them finer - I gave mine a few minutes whirling in the food processor to break them up smaller.

You need about 5 ripe sweet pears. Peel them and cut them in half lengthwise, and core them. Lay them cut side down and slice them crosswise, about 1/8th of an inch thick, keeping the slices together as best you can. This will be slippery work!

Slip the broad blade of the knife, or use a spatula to transfer each pear into the shell, on top of the chocolate layer, holding its shape, in a flower pattern, with the narrow ends toward the center. With your hand, gently splay push the fruit so the slices splay out to the edge of the shell. This is easier than it sounds.

If you have empty space between the pears, you can fill it in with other slices.

Using 3 eggs, 1 cup of cream, a teaspoon of Kirch, vanilla, or almond extract as you prefer, make a custard. You can sweeten the custard to your taste, or not if the pears are sweet.

Pour the custard over the pears, filling all the spaces. Sprinkle the top with sugar, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 30 - 40 minutes. You can brown the top under the broiler at the end if it isn't pretty enough.

It's a subtle combination, pears and chocolate. It all depends on the flavor of the pears. Give it a try.


Gracie and Bobbi said...

This looks oh-so-delicious!

smalltownme said...

And beautiful...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

If I ever make it back to the West Coast, I'd love to stop by, Aunt Snow.

Will take pictures for food...

Sue said...

Oh my...this sounds wonderful and it looks like art! This is my idea of a treat!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My.

I need to stop visiting your blog in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. I'm not sure if I should raid the kitchen for cooking supplies or buy a plane ticket to your house!

cactus petunia said...

Wow. I'll be dreaming about this one tonight!

Gilly said...

That looks fantastic! An I loe the idea of chocolate under the pears!

My pastry is just no good - I don't think I use enough butter! (Must be my thrifty streak!)

Mean Mama said...

Totally in agreement with your love of perfectly ripe Bartlett pears!!!! THE BEST!

Like your idea of chocolate under the pears in the tarte . . . I have been using almond creme, but will give this a try!