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Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

Wander + Wonder – A Pear Tart

Photography by Athena Calderone

Re sharing this EyeSwoon favorite for #PiDay!

The transition to fall is always my favorite time of year. The crisp cool air carries an excitement that pulls me outdoors as much as possible, though it is a distinctly different feeling than summer. There is a quality to autumn that offers me some solitude. I suppose with Jivan back in school and with the return of structure there is more time for me to examine the things that make me feel grounded to the earth and connected to myself. Exploring the Union Square green market on my own at 8am, after morning drop off, almost feels like a meditation to me. With no goals, just a sense of wander and wonder as I drift from one farm stand to the next, the freshly plucked produce dictates our meal for that day, my creativity in the kitchen, and even the content for eyeswoon. It is just so refreshing to be lead by a place of discovery as opposed to always planning and concepting in the calculated way that life so often mandates.

Last week, on one of those ritualistic mornings at the green market, I came upon bushels of pears so ripe and seasonal that their leaves still clung to their stem. The morning light highlighted their ever so distinct fall tonality of reds, yellows, burnt orange and autumn brown that I was immediatly inspired to bake. I was reminded of the very first proper French tart I had made many moons ago. I can recall the reason I chose it so specifically. As a young and very new baker I was petrified of rolling out a classic pastry dough. This particular recipe offered a pressed-in pastry that went from its crumbled form in the bowl, direct into the tart pan. Honestly, that was the single reason I choose the recipe but was blown away at the flavorful results, ooohh’s & ahhhh’s once served. I created that very recipe for so many dinner parties and holidays that I could have recited it verbatim back then but for some reason I never returned to it in my eyeswoon days. And so here it is, as swoony as it was 15 years ago, the pastry is infused with almond extract and the crème fraîche filling mingles so beautifully with full flavored lavender honey; both flavors elevate the pears to fall star status.

Pear Tart

Adapted from epicurious


Serves 8

For pastry

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground unblanched almonds

For filling

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons full-flavored honey, such as lavender
  • 1 tablespoon superfine flour, such as Wondra
  • About 1 1/2 pounds ripe pears, pitted and halved
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

The Prep

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Set aside. *note, I used a rectangular fluted pan.

Make the pastry:

  • In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and the sugar, and using a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to form a soft, cookie-like dough.
  • Transfer the dough to the center of the buttered pan.
  • Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The pastry will be quite thin.
  • Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the ground almonds over the bottom of the crust. (This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.)

Meanwhile make the filling:

  • In a medium-size bowl, combine the crème fraîche, egg, extracts and honey and whisk to blend. Whisk in the flour.
  • Pour the filling evenly over the pastry. Starting just inside the edge of the pan, neatly overlap the halved pears, cut side down, at an angle.
  • Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until the filling is firm and the pastry is a deep golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Place the tart on a rack to cool. Sprinkle again with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
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