Two dinner parties in one weekend and I was responsible for bringing dessert to both. We were treated to endlessly flowing wine and grilled leg of lamb with homemade pita bread one night and a Canadian Thanksgiving feast, complete with a twenty-something-pound roast turkey (which I was volunteered to carve), the next. My, what wonderful, generous friends we have!
Needless to say, dessert had to impress. A recent trip to the orchard to stock up on apples and pears—'tis the season here in the Pacific Northwest—meant I didn't have to look far for inspiration.
My Chocolate-Pear Tarts would be good enough for both parties.
This is a dessert born of leftovers—years ago, after finding myself with extra chocolate tart filling and a few too many poached pears after a multi-day baking spree, I decided to combine the two together in one dessert. Whether it was serendipity or just utilization, the results were divine, and this tart has been in my repertoire ever since.
3 ounces heavy cream
3 ounces milk
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or scant 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 ounce egg
3 Pears Poached in Port, at room temperature
1 partially baked 9-inch Pâte Sucrée Tart Crust
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Combine the cream and milk in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl, add the hot cream mixture, and whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly. Gradually whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg.
Pat the pears dry with paper towels. Halve and core the pears and slice them thinly, keeping the slices together so each pear half stays intact. Using a spatula, transfer the sliced pear halves to the tart crust, arranging them in a radial pattern with their stem ends at the center of the crust. Press down gently on each pear half to fan out the slices slightly. Using a pitcher or batter bowl with a spout, slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, being careful not to pour it directly over the pears. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until just set. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm. Cut the tart into portions and serve immediately.
Makes 1 9-inch tart, serving 8. This tart is perfect in the fall, when Bosc pears are in season. The pears may be poached up to a day in advance and stored submerged in their cooled unreduced poaching liquid. To measure 1 ounce of egg, crack 1 egg into a bowl, lightly beat it with a fork, and weigh it out using a scale. You can tell that the tart is done when the chocolate filling jiggles like gelatin. Serve with the reduced poaching liquid sauce from the Pears Poached in Port and lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.