ROASTED PEAR CREME BRULEE TART

Creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts, and this roasted pear tart immediately drew me in. It looks beautiful in the picture from Cooking Light, December 2009, and even though there seems to be a lot of steps and ingredients, I have been waiting for a new challenge.

 Roasted Pear Creme Brûlée Tart

Roasted Pear Creme Brûlée Tart

The reviews from other cooks online were not preferable, mostly noting that the ingredients didn’t quite fare with each other, and the pears were too burnt. After making this, I had to somewhat agree to some of the reviews. I came nowhere close to the Cooking Light picture, but I was proud of myself. The pears did come out burnt, but I didn’t mind it. The tart was delicious, it just didn’t pull together as wholesome as your typical creme brulee. Try to make it, though, because it was really fun and delicious to eat, just a bit challenging to make.

GATHER:

Pastry: [I skipped these ingredients entirely for the pastry, and got a ready-pie dough.]

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • Cooking spray

Pastry cream:

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1 (4-inch) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise [I substituted with 3 tsp of vanilla extract.]
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Topping:

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 medium pears, peeled, cored, and halved [Try to roast 3 instead of 2; or at least buy 2 large ones, not medium.]
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar [This may seem much when you're ready to brulee the dish, but use all of it!]

MAKE:

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • [I skipped this step and used ready-pie dough. I put the dough in a regular tart pan, pierce with a fork, and baked it at 450° for 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.] To prepare pastry, place first 3 ingredients in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse 10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add 2 tablespoons ice water through food chute, processing just until dough starts to come together. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap; press into a disk. Cover and chill 10 minutes in the freezer. Place dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; roll dough into a 10-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray; pierce dough with a fork. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To prepare pastry cream, combine brown sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium, heavy saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until thick and bubbly (about 5 minutes), stirring constantly. Place egg in a large bowl. Gradually stir hot milk mixture into egg. Return milk mixture to pan; cook 2 minutes or until mixture reaches 185° and coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly. Discard vanilla bean. Spread pastry cream onto a baking sheet; cover entire surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 20 minutes or until chilled. Spread pastry cream evenly into tart shell; cover and chill at least 2 hours or until set.
  • To prepare topping, combine juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pears; toss well to coat. Place pears, cut side down, in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool completely; thinly slice. Place on paper towels; pat dry with additional paper towels. Arrange the pear slices spoke-like over pastry cream. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle 1/3 cup granulated sugar evenly over pears, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Holding a kitchen blowtorch about 2 inches from the top of custard, heat the sugar, moving the torch back and forth, until the sugar is melted and caramelized (about 3 minutes). Serve immediately.