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Recipe: Pear and Chocolate Tart

Pears from Joanne's Garden -

When you do nothing to your pear tree but leave it be, you can expect trouble. And trouble came to my friend in the form of dozens and dozens and dozens of bug-free, blemishless, picture perfect pears. Her punishment? Driving some over to me. That’ll teach her.

I asked her what she likes to do with pears and she mentioned dipping them in chocolate. But that seemed too easy. Besides, I’m breaking out of my pastry-phobic rut and needed something to put in my pate sucree dough. So I made a pear and chocolate tart. A bit askew, but not bad given the swarm of fruit flies hounding me as I worked.

Pear and Chocolate Tart -

So, where’s the chocolate? Underneath the slivered pears and cream custard, hiding quietly to surprise you.

Cacao Barry Chocolate for a pear and chocolate tart -

I used a new-to-Canada product called Cacao Barry by Callebaut. I was given a sample at the Women’s Culinary Network’s Woman of the Year party for Elizabeth Baird and squirreled it away in a high cupboard awaiting a special occasion. Pears from my best friend and pastry made on my dearly departed Aunt Hilda’s special board seemed the perfect excuse to break out this treat. The chocolate was dark, flavourful and melted beautifully. Best of all? It didn’t require chopping.

See, without any intervention on my part it dissolved into a decadent layer just waiting to be discovered.

Pear and Chocolate Tart -

Unlike the sugary Pink Angel Squares with mile-high icing and gooey coconut filling, this dessert isn’t very sweet. Instead, it’s very rich. With eggs, yolks and cream, you won’t need any sauces or even ice cream. Just a fork and maybe a secluded corner to sneak away to so no one will ask you to share.

Pear and Chocolate Tart -

Next time, I’m thinking I’ll add a good handful of crystallized ginger to the custard. Got a favourite way to use up pears? Share a link. Share a photo. I’m on a roll and looking for more challenges.

Pear and Bittersweet Chocolate Tart
Recipe type: Baking
Cuisine: French
Prep / inactive time: 
Cook / active time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
I used the filling from In the Sweet Kitchen: The Definitive Baker's Companion by Regan Daley. (Random House Canada, 2010). My 10-inch tart shell left me with enough custard filling for a second small dessert. I sliced two more pears and made a 6-inch crustless clafoutis . To avert crisis, I skipped the chocolate bottom layer and drizzled chocolate sauce over the tart before serving. No on complained. Serves 6 to 8.
  • 1 (10½ or 11 inch) Pate Sucree tart shell
  • 4 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I didn't chop the Cacao Barry chips, they melted just fine)
  • 5 or 6 medium-sized dessert pears, preferably Anjou or Bartlett, ripe but still firm and unblemished
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling
  • seeds of ½ vanilla bean* or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups heavy cream (36%)
Partially bake the crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prick the bottom of the chilled tart shell all over with a fork. Line the bottom of the tart with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill the liner with dried beans or pie weights and place the shell on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are just colouring and the bottom of the pastry is beginning to cook. Remove the foil and weights and return the shell to the oven for another 10 minutes or until lightly browned all over.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Scatter the chopped chocolate evenly over the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Peel and halve the pears, then core them using a melon baller to scoop out just the round seed area. Place one pear half, cut-side down, on a cutting board. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice the pear into very thin slices across the axis (horizontally), keeping the shape intact (so even after it's sliced, it still looks like an intact pear half.) Gently press your hand down upon the curve, fanning the slices back towards the wide end of the pear, like dominoes. Slide a palette knife under the sliced pear half, keeping the fanned shape, and transfer to the tart shell, with the narrow end facing the centre. Repeat with the other halves until the tart shell is full. Don't worry about covering the whole surface; any space between the fanned pear halves will be filled with custard.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, ¾ cup sugar and the vanilla seeds. Add the cream and vanilla extract, if using, and whisk to combine. Pour the custard over the pears. (Depending on the size of your tart tin, there may be a little custard left over.) Sprinkle the surface of the tart with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and set the shell on a baking sheet to catch any drips.
  3. Bake the tart in the middle of the centre of the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce to heat to 375°F and continue baking until the custard is just set in the centre, about 40 to 50 minutes. Allow tart to cool completely before slicing. Serve the tart within 6 hours of baking and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
* Don't throw out the vanilla pod once you've scraped out the seeds. You can use it to make Vanilla Sugar, Vanilla Salt or boost the flavour of your vanilla extract.

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28 Responses to Recipe: Pear and Chocolate Tart

  1. Michelle September 8, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    Wow. Just beautiful.
    Michelle recently posted…Wish I’d thought of that…My Profile

    • Charmian Christie September 9, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

      @Michelle, thanks. The slivered and fanned pears got easier and I went along.

  2. Ciaochowlinda September 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    Oh my that is one decadently delicious and beautiful torte.
    Ciaochowlinda recently posted…Quinoa SaladMy Profile

    • Charmian Christie September 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

      @Ciaochowlinda, thanks. It was pretty rich, but worth every calorie.

  3. Redmenace September 10, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Wow. It’s hard to believe you were ever pastry- phobic. Your tart is simply gorgeous!

    • Charmian Christie September 14, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

      @Redmenace, thanks so much, but I assure you, I have a very tempestuous relationship with pastry. One time it’s perfect, the next, it’s like cement.

      I’m learning that I can’t rush the process. Baby steps…

  4. Taz September 10, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    yummo, I have some pears that need using up. I think I now know what I’m going to do with them. I’m getting hungry just reading about this tart.
    Taz recently posted…Amaretti Ice Cream – Churned and Non-churned VersionsMy Profile

    • Charmian Christie September 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

      @Taz, hope you like the results. I was surprised how easy it was to make once I figured out how to slice the pears.

  5. Jessica September 12, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    Oh yum! I can imagine someone turning their nose up at this dessert when they first spot it, uncut, because it’s another “fruit” pie… but then imagine the surprise on their face when they spot someone eating a piece of it and the chocolate seeps out of it! What a delicious treat!

    • Charmian Christie September 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

      @Jessica, exactly! I love the shock value. Help yourself to an extra slice just for “getting it”.

  6. Ayami September 12, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    This looks SO delicious! I’ve had a pear craving lately and can’t wait to make this dish. My taste buds are salivating already…

    • Charmian Christie September 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

      @Ayami, hope you enjoy the finished product. I love that it’s so simple. Chocolate, pears, vanilla custard… who needs more?

  7. Cheryl Arkison September 16, 2010 at 12:33 am #

    Mmmmm…. The pears are now arriving here and my daily addiction grows. It’s a hard toss-up between peaches and pears right now.

    Last year I became addicted to pear and gorgonzola pizza, with caramelized onions as the sauce. Then there was the appie of pears with blue cheese and honey, and maybe a walnut or pecan. I also made a honey pear vanilla cheesecake for my first TV appearance last year.
    Cheryl Arkison recently posted…Peel Me a GrapeMy Profile

    • Charmian Christie September 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

      @Cheryl Arkison, what an amazing combination for pizza. I’m more a peach fan than a pear fan, but am coming around to subtle allure of the pear.

  8. Julie Barker October 25, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    Hi Christie! I have an emergency question: If I don’t make my own pate sucree dough, do I still have to pre bake the crust??

    • Charmian Christie October 25, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      I would. I’ve never made this without pate sucree pastry but the principle is still the same. I think the bottom would be too soggy if the crust wasn’t slightly pre-baked. If you are worried about the edges getting overcooked, put aluminum foil on them or use a pie guard.

      Hope this helps.

  9. sedat September 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    how can i save left over custard? and how long of course?

    • Charmian Christie September 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

      Yes, the custard will keep. Let it cool and then store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. I’d use it within 3 or 4 days. Thanks for asking.

  10. sedat September 4, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    ok, like i thought. :) i overcooked the tart, shell is a bit hard and crunchy, but still so yummy. thanx for recipe.. :)

    • Charmian Christie September 4, 2012 at 8:06 am #

      Oh no! I hate when I do that. Glad it was yummy anyway. Thanks for reporting back. Good luck with your leftover custard. I’d love to hear what you do with that.

  11. Ayumi September 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    I just baked the tart from your recipe tonight! It was delicious. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Charmian Christie September 23, 2013 at 12:30 am #

      I’m so glad you liked the tart. Thanks for taking the time to let me know how it turned out!

  12. Liz November 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    It seems to have come out great, but the custard parts in between the pears are very browned. Should I have covered it with foil while baking?

    • Charmian Christie November 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

      I’ve never had the custard get too brown. Covering it once it started to get golden would help. My oven is gas, which produces a moist heat, so that might make a difference. Hope it tasted good despite the browning.

  13. Amanda February 3, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    I can’t remember what recipe book I found this in, but I made this back in 2006/2007. Very happy to have found it again.

    Now apparently I have to make it.

    • Charmian Christie February 3, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

      Yes. You must. Immediately :-)

      Glad you rediscovered this. It’s a crowd pleaser.

  14. CeCe March 31, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    My favorite way to use up pears (and the only way I will eat pears at all since I don’t like the texture of fresh pears) is my mother’s Normandy Pear Pie. It has a nut crust I think which gives it a cookie texture rather than a pastry crust texture. The pears are then coated with cinnamon and a little sugar much like you would with an apple pie. My favorite way to eat it is with a little pour of cream over the top.

    • Charmian Christie April 4, 2015 at 11:14 am #

      That sounds wonderful. I’ve never had a Normandy Pear Pie, but nut crust and cinnamon would be perfect with pears. Thanks so much for sharing your family favourite. I’ll give this a try come pear season!

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