Dear SOS: I think the pear tart with almond cream at Nicole's in South Pasadena is the best dessert I have ever eaten. Unfortunately, they do not make it very often. Getting the recipe would vastly improve my life. Can you help?
Thank you so much,
Dear Ina: Nicole's was happy to share their version of this classic French pear and almond cream tart.
Pear bourdaloue Total time: About 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling time Servings: 12 to 16 Note: Adapted from Nicole's Gourmet Foods in South Pasadena Tart shell 1 2/3 cup (7.1 ounces) flour 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled butter, cut into one-half-inch cubes 1 egg yolk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 tablespoons ice water 1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or your fingers. 2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla. Work the egg mixture into the flour mixture just until it resembles cornmeal. Stir in ice water, a tablespoon at a time, just until the dough holds together. 3. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. 4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it is just over 13 inches in diameter. Fit the dough into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the dough so it is flat with the top of the tart pan, then line and fill the shell with pie weights or beans. 5. Blind bake the tart shell until set, about 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and set the shell on a rack to cool. Poached pears 1 quart water 1 1/2 cups sugar 4 pears, preferably Bartlett, peeled and halved lengthwise In a large saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to poaching temperature (not quite a simmer) and poach the pears just until tender (a knife should pierce easily). Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and cool completely. Core the cooled pear halves and slice each half lengthwise into 6 slices. Filling and assembly 2 tablespoons chilled butter 2/3 cup almond meal or flour 2 1/3 cups milk 1 vanilla bean, split 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1/3 cup sugar 1/2 cup (2.1 ounces) flour Tart shell Poached pears 1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, place the butter and almond meal. Set aside. (Do not worry about mixing them together.) 2. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla bean. Bring the milk just to a simmer over high heat, then remove from heat and discard the bean pod. 3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour. Whisk in about a cup of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs, then whisk in the remaining milk until combined. Whisk the mixture over medium heat just until it thickens. Immediately remove from heat, pour the mixture over the butter and almond meal and whisk. 4. Spread the filling in the tart shell and top with the sliced pears (you may not use all of the pears; we used about three-fourths of the slices). Bake the tart until the custard is lightly browned and set, about 30 minutes. 5. Remove from heat and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing. Each of 16 servings: 253 calories; 5 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 13 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 66 mg. cholesterol; 15 grams sugar; 100 mg. sodium.