Poached Pear Chocolate Walnut Tart (Crostata)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8 to 10 servings, depending on size of slices
 
Recipe by Nick Malgieri from the cookbook, Bake!
Chocolate addition by me
ingredients:
Sweet Pastry Dough
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 10 pieces
  • 2 large eggs
Poached Pears
  • Ice water
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 5 ripe Bartlett pears, about 2 pounds
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 two to three-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon pear brandy, optional
Chocolate Walnut Filling
  • 1 cup walnut pieces (I toasted the walnuts first)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butted, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large yolk
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (reduced from ¼ cup due to the addition of dark cocoa. If you don't use cocoa, use ¼ cup flour)
  • ¼ cup dark cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup walnut pieces, finely chopped (I omitted these extra walnut pieces that are scattered on top of the filling prior to arranging the pears)
Apricot Glaze
  • ¾ cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Confectioners’ sugar for finishing
directions:
Make the Sweet Pastry Dough
  1. To mix the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the work bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix Add the butter and pulse repeatedly at 1 second intervals until the butter is finely mixed into the dry ingredients. Add the eggs and pulse again until the dough forms a scrappy, raggedy ball. You still want to see chunks of butter in it.
  2. Invert the dough to a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. Divide the dough in half, then flatten each half into a disk. Use immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days.I rolled one half of the dough and fit it into an 11-inch (should be 10-inch) tart pan, then blind baked it prior to adding filling and pears. 15 minutes at 350 F with parchment paper and dried beans - remove both, then 10 - 12 more minutes until light golden in color.
Make the Poached Pears
  1. Fill a 4-quart pan with ice water and add lemon juice. Peel and cut the pears in half vertically, using a melon-ball scoop to core and stem the pears. Add each pear half to the ice water. Skim out the ice and pour away all the water except what’s needed to cover the pears by 1 inch. Add the sugar, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick and stir gently.
  2. Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper the same diameter of the pan and cut about six 1 inch holes in it. Press the paper down on top of the pears so that it is fully submerged. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a full boil. Cover, remove from the heat and allow the pears to sit in the hot liquid until they completely cooled. If the pears are perfectly ripe, they won’t need any more cooking; if they are less ripe, boil for another two minutes. Once the pears are cool, use slotted spoon to lift and place them in a container. Pour pear brandy over pears, if using; pour enough of the poaching syrup to cover the pears and transfer to the vanilla bean to the container. Cover and refrigerate until needed.If you aren't making this crostata and want to poach the pears for dessert, once the pears come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool in the syrup. Refrigerate in the syrup or serve immediately with ice cream, creme fraiche, chocolate syrup or whatever you suits your fancy.
Make the Chocolate Walnut Filling
  1. Before assembling this filling, set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
  2. Combine walnut pieces, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Scrape away any mixture stuck to the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the butter, egg, and yolk, pulse until smooth. Mix the flour, cocoa and baking powder together and then add the bowl and pulse again until absorbed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse 2 to 3 more times. Scrape the remaining filling into the crust and smooth the top. Evenly scatter the chopped walnuts on top (I omitted this).
Make the Apricot Glaze
  1. Stir together the apricot preserves and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over low heat. Strain into a bowl, then rinse the pan and return the strained glaze to the saucepan. Reheat the glaze and reduce it (cook down) slightly.
Assemble and Bake the Tart
  1. Drain the pears on paper towels and arrange them on the filling, wider sides close to the edge of the crust, ends pointing toward the center. (Do a dry run on a plate and trim the sides of the pear halves if necessary.) Bake at 350 F until the edge of the crust is deep golden and the filling is set, about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  2. Once cool, Dust the tart well with confectioners sugar, then pour a small spoonful or brush the glaze onto each pear. Unmold and slide the tart to a platter to serve.
notes:
* I used the first pasta frolla recipe from the challenge, linked above.
Recipe by parsley sage sweet at http://www.parsleysagesweet.com/2010/11/28/zenyatta-crostata/