Poached Pear & Pistachio Tart

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Yield: Yield: Yields one 9-1/2- to 11-inch tart, plus enough dough for a second tart


This recipe adds an exotic note to the classic poached pear tart, with pistachios in the crust and topping and cardamom in the filling. For best results, chill the filled tart before topping it with the fruit; otherwise, the filling may be too soft to hold the fruit up well.


8-3/4 oz. (scant 2 cups) all-purpose flour;  more for dusting

3-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.) confectioners’ sugar

1-3/4 oz. (7 Tbs.) pistachio meal (finely ground pistachios)

6 oz. (12 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

2 large eggs, 1 separated

Cooking spray

1 oz. melted white chocolate

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract or paste

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1-1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

1 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream

1 750-ml bottle of dry white wine

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 whole (3-inch) cinnamon sticks

2 whole star anise

2 (3-inch) strips lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

1-1/2 lb. peeled, halved, cored, and sliced firm-ripe pears (preferably a smaller variety, such as Seckel or Forelle)

1/4 cup apricot or apple jelly

2 Tbs. water or white wine

Chopped pistachios, for garnishing


In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, pistachio meal, butter, and salt. Mix on low speed until the butter begins to break up, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to just below medium and continue beating until the mixture looks sandy with butter pieces the size of tiny pebbles, about 2 minutes more.

Turn the mixer off and add the whole egg and egg yolk (reserve the remaining white). Mix on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and mix just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 30 seconds. Do not overmix.

Divide the dough in half, press each half into a disk about 4 inches across, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 disk for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. (Freeze the other disk for up to a month; thaw in the refrigerator before using.)

Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Spray a 9-1/2- to 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray.

Working quickly, roll the dough disk into a 1/8-inch-thick round. Transfer the dough to the tart pan and gently coax it into the pan, allowing the excess dough to hang over the sides. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off the excess dough. Patch any tears or cracks with the scraps. Refrigerate the crust for at least 20 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Line the crust with parchment paper and fill it to the very top with beans or pie weights. Bake until the edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and paper. Bake until the center of the crust looks dry and is just beginning to color, 3 to 5 minutes.

Beat the reserved egg white. Brush the inside of the crust with some of the egg white (you won’t need it all) and return the crust to the oven until the egg white has dried, about 2 minutes. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy once you add the filling.) Cool completely on a rack.

Brush the interior of the cooled crust with the white chocolate. Let it set for a few minutes in the fridge before proceeding.

Combine the milk and 2 Tbs. of the sugar in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. If using a vanilla bean, split it and scrape the seeds into the milk, then add the pod. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod, if using.

Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the remaining 2 Tbs. sugar with the egg, egg yolk, and cornstarch until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture until combined. Off the heat, whisk the contents of the bowl back into the remaining milk in the saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a boil; it will thicken. Continue to cook for another minute past the boil, whisking constantly. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla paste or extract, if using, and the cardamom. Strain the pastry cream through a medium-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

In a deep, narrow 4- to 5-quart pot, combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, and lemon zest and juice. Stir to distribute the sugar. Add the pears. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Lower the heat and cover the pears with a circle of parchment and a plate to keep them submerged. Continue cooking until the pears give just a little resistance when pierced with a paring knife. (They will continue to cook a little more as the liquid cools.) Let cool completely, submerged in the liquid, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Remove the pears from the liquid and drain on paper towels before slicing and topping the tart with them.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks with an electric hand mixer or a whisk.

Beat the pastry cream to soften and smooth it. With a large