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Country Pear Tart

8 servings 

Pastry Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cool and firm, not hard
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
Generous 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pastry Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Lightly spray a 9" or 10" fluted tart pan, preferably one with a removable bottom.
  3. In a large mixer bowl with mixer set on medium speed, beat together oil, butter and sugar until well  blended and smooth.
  4. In a small bowl, beat egg with a fork until well blended. Add 3 tablespoons of egg to mixer bowl; discard remaining egg or reserve for another purpose. Add lemon zest, ginger, vanilla and cornstarch. Beat until ingredients are smoothly incorporated. Add flour and mix on low speed just until smoothly incorporated.
  5. Shape dough into a ball. Roll  out dough into an 11 1/2" round between sheets of wax paper. While rolling out, check underside of wax paper several times and smooth out any wrinkles that form. Lay dough with the wax paper on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes, until cool and slightly firmer.
  6. Peel off top sheet of paper. Lift dough and center, dough-side down in sprayed pan. Carefully peel off second sheet of wax paper. Press and smooth dough into pan, patching any tears and uneven edges of pan. Discard trimmings or, if necessary, use them to build up any thin areas along the fluted edge of the pastry.
  7. Prick dough all over with a fork. Cover pastry with a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, firmly smoothing foil over pastry and then folding out over pan edges so pastry is completely encased. Set tart pan on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake on center oven rack for 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil from pastry and return shell to oven. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes longer, until tart edges are nicely browned and center bottom is firm to the touch. Set aside on a wire rack until cooled. Shell will keep, covered, for up to 36 hours. Fill shell as desired. 

Filling Ingredients

3 lbs (6 or 7 large) ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice combined with 1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Generous 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Generous 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 tablespoons pear brandy or light rum (or substitute with orange juice, if preferred)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup apricot preserves, sieved
1 tablespoon pistachios, chopped

Filling Directions

  1. Peel, halve and core pears. Cut two pears into even, lengthwise slices. Drop the slices into a bowl of lemon-water to prevent discoloration. Coarsely chop remaining pears, tossing with two teaspoons of lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
  2. Combine chopped pears with sugar, lemon zest and minced ginger in a large non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Adjust heat so mixture simmers gently and stir frequently until it cooks down to a chunky puree for 15 to 20 minutes. Some juicy pears will take longer to cook down.
  3. In a small cup, stir cornstarch into brandy until smoothly incorporated. Stir mixture into saucepan and continue cooking. Stir for about two minutes longer, or until mixture is thickened slightly and turns clear. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter until butter melts. Spread mixture in pastry shell.
  4. Drain pear slices. Pat dry on paper towels. Arrange pear slices attractively over cooked filling. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until filling is bubbly and pear slices are tender whentested with a fork. Transfer tart to wire rack.
  5. Evenly brush tops of pears with apricot preserves. Let stand until cool. Refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour and up to 24 hours, if preferred. Tart will still taste good if stored longer, but pastry may become soggy. Sprinkle with pistachios before serving.

Nutrition

Per serving
Total calories 363
Fat 8 g
Cholesterol 30 mg
Protein 3.5 g
Carbohydrates 70 g
Fiber 6 g
Sodium 17 mg

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