The Simplicity of Pears

This time of year the pears are coming in from the orchards, beautiful green Comice pears and red shouldered Bartletts, they are so lovely. It’s pear custard tart season!


Did you know that pears do not ripen on the tree? They are one of the few odd fruits that are unripe when picked, then they need a few days of rest on your counter to ripen and transform from rock hard to sweet, tender lusciousness – like avocados!

They can also go from perfect ripeness to a mealy nasty thing if you don’t keep an eye on them, so don’t forget to keep checking them.

At the office we receive a nice fruit CSA every week and all the staff get excited for Fruit Wednesday. I also receive my fruit and veggie box every other week and last week there was an abundance of pears, slowly ripening everywhere.

I mentioned to my colleague that I have an excellent pear tart recipe and perhaps I should make something from the office pears to bring in to work. I also had three perfectly ripened ones from my personal box so my date in the kitchen was set.

I managed to bring home the ripe work pears on the bus without them getting mauled. It was quite the feat, involving bubble wrap and many reprimands to rude bus people who were determined to rest their backpacks on my lap. City life!

Safe in my apartment the pears lounged on the counter while I preheated the oven and assembled the pantry items for a fast and delicious pear custard tart.

Years ago when Martha Stewart’s star was still in the heavens and not yet sullied by federal investigations and various shenanigans her staff published a cute recipe booklet for the grocery store called Everyday Food. My sister gifted a home subscription to mom and me and it had some great little gems like this recipe. They published quite a nice cookbook too, and this recipe is also in that book. My late beau loved this tart so much he would eat at least half of it in one sitting.

The prep for the tart is simple. A tart pan or pie plate gets well buttered and more butter is melted for the filling. For each tart you need three ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored, then sliced thinly and fanned out in the tart pan. I cut up the pears while the butter was melting in the microwave.

For the filling I like to use my immersion blender and my silicon 4-cup measuring cup, but a regular blender is fine or if you have a normal working shoulder you can use a whisk and a bowl. But for me, the immersion blender is the way to go while my stupid shoulder finishes healing.

In the measuring cup I broke open pretty pullet eggs with yolks the color of marigolds, gorgeous! The rest of the filling ingredients went in the container in no particular order: sugar, salt, vanilla, melted butter, flour, milk. A quick blitz with the blender until smooth and voila! Done!

I poured the filling over the pears and slid the tart pans in the oven for 40 minutes. In no time my pad started to smell really good, heady scents on vanilla and sugar and the sweet fragrance of pears, ahh, I could hardly stand it.

When the timer went off I peeked in the oven and the tarts were gorgeous, puffed and golden on top and the center was set. While they cooled I had an aromatherapy moment, inhaling deeply.

(one for me, one for the office)

After the pear custard tarts had cooled I showered them with powdered sugar, a blizzard of sugar to mimic the monsoon pounding against the window. Rain! In early October? Seattle, are you missing some weather?

I wrapped one up to take to the office, tucked away in my silly butterfly-patterend farmers market bag to keep it dry, and again braved the bus.

My colleague and I had a slice of the pear custard tart with our morning coffee while the storm whirled by outside. Suddenly the sun broke through lightening up our workspace to match the pleasure of eating such a lovely tart for breakfast.

Pear Custard Tart

3 ripe pears
3 eggs
1/2 stick of melted unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c flour
3/4 c whole milk
more butter for buttering the tart pan
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a  tart pan or pie plate.  Peel and core the pears, and slice thinly vertically (top to bottom) and fan out the slices in the tart pan.  (note: you can also use canned pears!)

In a blender add everything else (except the powdered sugar) and blend until smooth.

Bake 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center is set.  It will be puffed but will deflate slightly as it cools.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm, room temperature or chilled.

Makes 4 slices.  Realistically it could serve up to 8 but I have never met anyone who did not want their full quarter!

This is also a great item for brunch!

Source:  Everyday Foods Fast

(printer-friendly recipe)


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