When I saw these cute Seckel pears on the grocery store I immediately thought to use them to decorate some tartlets. These little sweet pears are perfect for a delicious and beautiful dessert, especially when they are poached in sweet wines. I used this time French sweet wine Sauternes, but you can also use Tokay, Beaumes de Venise, and orange Muscat. The tartlets crusts were made with almond sweet pastry and filled with mascarpone cream.
Pear Mascarpone Tartlets
(Makes 8 mini tartlets)
Pears in Sauternes wine
Adapted from the book Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard by Nigel Slater
4 small pears ( I used Seckel pears but you can use other hard varieties)
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup / 200g sugar
A vanilla pod
1 tbsp honey
200 ml Sauternes wine or other sweet wine
Wipe the pears and cut each one in half lengthwise. Put into a deep saucepan with the juice of the half lemon, the sugar, vanilla, wine, and 1 2/3 cups / 400 ml of water. Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Let the pears cook gently until they are completely tender to the point of a knife. This will take a good forty-five minutes, maybe longer. Don’t even think undercooking then.
Pâte Sucrée aux Amandes
Sweet almond Pastry
From the book Ladurée Sucré
(Makes 16 oz/ 450 g of dough)
½ cup /120 g butter, very cold
½ cup + 1 tbsp / 70 g confectioners’ icing sugar
¼ cup/ 25 g ground almonds
1 pinch of fleur de sel (or other coarse sea salt)
1 pinch of vanilla powder (or a few drops of vanilla extract)
1 2/3 cups / 200g cake flour
Sift the confectioners’ sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Work the butter to homogenize and then add the following ingredients, one by one, making sure to fully incorporate each into the mixture before the next addition: sifted confectioner’s sugar, ground almonds, fleur de sel, vanilla, egg and flour. Combine ingredients just until the dough comes together; do not overwork the dough. This will give the pastry its desired crumbly texture.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before using. If possible, it is better to prepare the dough one day ahead; it will be easier to cool out.
Butter the tart pan. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1/10 inch / 2 mm thick and press into the buttered pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 340 °F / 170 °C. Remove tart shell from refrigerator. Using a fork, prick the surface of the dough to keep from puffing up during baking. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until light coloured.
Adapted from the book Ladurée Sucré
2 gelatin sheets (1/2 tbsp / 4 g powdered gelatin)
¼ cup / 60 ml heavy cream
½ cup +tbsp / 125 g granulated sugar
2 cups / 400 g mascarpone
Place the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of very cold water. Allow to soften for 10 minutes.
Drain the gelatin sheets, squeezing hard to remove all excess liquid. In a saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and incorporate the drained gelatin. Allow to cool completely.
Using a wooden or rubber spatula, first mix the mascarpone by itself in a bowl until smooth. Continue to mix and little by little, pour in the cold mixture above. Fill the cooled baked tarts shell with mascarpone cream. Freeze for 20 minutes until the cream is firm.
Finishing the tart by placing the pear on top of the cream.