Tarte Poire Noisette (Pear Tart with Hazelnut Cream)
Tarte aux poires et à la noisette sounds like a fancy-schmancy dessert but really, it's just a French tart made with hazelnut cream and ripe pears. That's about it. The only other embellishment is that I enhance the flavor of the nut cream with a little green anise.
Green anise seeds are usually infused in tea as a medicinal treatment for children's stomach aches. It's a pretty common remedy in Northern Africa. I love the sweet fragrance and the strong notes of licorice. You don't have to add the aromatic seeds to the nut cream but I think they pair wonderfully with pears.
Being French, it still is really remarkable to me that in America, French sounding names make products sound more luxurious (and expensive). I've even seen some products that have names that don't make sense in French, but I guess evoke a sense of elegance. Now that I've let you in on the secret, don't be fooled by fancy French names anymore! However, if you prepare this recipe for your friends or family, make sure that you use the French name to impress them. Better to be the "fool-er" than the "fool-ee!"
Yields: 18 tartlets36 tablespoons unsalted butter (4-1/2 sticks), diced, + extra for greasing the pans
1-½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon anise extract
1 teaspoon canola oil
1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
6 whole eggs, at room temperature
1-¼ cups granulated sugar, to taste
3/4 teaspoon green anise seeds, dry roasted
3-¼ cups hazelnut powder, (10 ounces)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 pears (I used Bosc variety), ripe, (peeled)
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup apricot preserves, warm
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the hazelnut tart shells:
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. In another bowl, place the powdered sugar. Sift all the dry ingredients, separately.
Using a handheld mixer, whisk 2 eggs with 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. It will take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency should be very airy. Add ½ teaspoon of each vanilla and anise extracts. Stir well using a spatula. Set aside.
Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor with a silicone brush. Add the flour, ½ cup of hazelnut powder, ¼ teaspoon of salt and remaining powdered sugar. Blend for a few seconds, then add 2-½ sticks of cold diced butter. Pulse the mixture until it forms crumbs of butter and flour. Add the egg mixture. Pulse another 3-4 times until it forms a dough. Do NOT over-mix. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.
Once chilled, transfer the dough onto a pastry board lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough like a sandwich. Using a rolling pin, even out the dough to about ½-inch thick. Using one of the individual pie molds, create 18 (4-inch) disks of dough (scalloped-edge). Place the dough in the tart molds. Prick the dough with a fork. Stack the tartlet dough rounds, placing little squares of parchment paper between them to prevent them from sticking to each other. Chill in the refrigerator until the rest of the ingredients are ready.
For the hazelnut cream:
Using a mortar and pestle, finely grind the green anise into a fine powder.
Using a handheld mixer, whisk 4 eggs with about ½ cup of sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. It will take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency should be very airy. Add the remaining vanilla and ground green anise. Set aside.
Cream 2 sticks of butter (at room temperature) with the remaining sugar. Pour in the egg mixture. Add the remaining hazelnut powder. Mix until the batter is smooth.
Core and cut the pears in half. Cut the halves into thin slices. Coat them with lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
Place about 1-½ tablespoons of hazelnut cream in the center of each tart shell. Top with pear halves. Place the hazelnut pear tartlets on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F for another 25 minutes. Before glazing the tartlets, broil for about 2 minutes to get a nice golden crust. Remove from the oven and immediately brush each tartlet with 2 teaspoons of warm apricot preserves, for a nice glossy look.
Let the tartlets cool for a few minutes. Remove the shells from the molds. You can serve them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a nice cup of hot tea.
FYI: 16 tablespoons = 2 sticks of butter. I know it's a lot of butter but don't forget you're making 18 tartlets (they also freeze well).
To make flaky dough, it's important to use cold diced butter.
I use McCormick anise extract. If you don't have any, you can use more green anise seeds, dry roast them and grind them finely in a mortar and pestle. You can find green anise in specialty stores or online.
You can either buy ready-made hazelnut powder (really just finely ground hazelnuts), or make it yourself. Remember to get a little more than 10 ounces of whole hazelnuts (I buy them at Costco) to get the correct amount of powder. Grind the roasted* hazelnuts with a food processor or spice grinder. Make sure you stop before it turns into nut butter. I use the VitaMix Dry Blade Container. The result should be a fine mill.
Little reminder on how to roast nuts*: To release all the flavor and oil of the nuts, I like to roast them in the oven before using them. Spread the nuts onto a baking sheet. Place the tray in a preheated oven at 170°F. Roast the hazelnuts for about 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool completely. Rub the nuts between your hands; the skin should come off easily. Do not roast the nuts over a temperature of 170°F or you'll risk breaking healthy fats and lose all the nutrients of the nuts. The only nuts I dry roast on the stove are pine nuts. They are smaller, cook more quickly and are much easier to watch and manipulate on the stove top.
I think it's best to make the hazelnut tart dough a day in advance. Store it in the refrigerator overnight. The dough will be easier to roll and won't be crumbly.
Rolling the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or on 2 silicon mats) prevents the addition of extra flour on the rolling surface, which can change the texture of the dough.
Parchment paper is very convenient when you use molds that aren't non-stick. If you're extra cautious, grease the molds with butter before lining them with parchment paper.
You can make these fruit tarts with any fruit and nut combinations, such as plums, apples, peaches, apricots, apples, figs, almonds, pistachios, etc... -depending on the season. Be creative!
Check out my other desserts by clicking on the link.
Published By: on March 5, 2010.