Jumping late on the Valentine’s Day baking band wagon this year, I am sharing a delicious and pretty tart recipe. This recipe was inspired by a recent plated dessert I made for an event at my workplace – the cassis hazelnut bostock with mascarpone cream, candied hazelnuts, and fresh blackberries. Catering events also means there are lots of leftover ingredients because it is always better to over-prepare than under-prepare, so I took home some hazelnut frangipane to play with. This dessert is a twist on the classic pear almond tart. My co-worker and I drooled over the idea of a cassis poached pear hazelnut tart as we talked about the things we can make with the leftovers. Nutty cream and fruit in a tart shell never gets old, there can be endless combinations – orange hazelnut, pear walnut, and berry almond are some of my favourites. Time to add another favourite: the crème de cassis pear hazelnut tart.
- 170g / 6 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 pinch salt
- 115g / 1 cup icing sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 60 g / 1 large egg + 1-2 tbsp whole egg, slightly beaten
- 355g / 3-3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
- 2 large Bosc pears, ripe but firm
- 195 g / 3/4 cup crème de cassis liqueur
- 125 g / 1/2 cup water
- 1 scraped vanilla pod (optional)
- peel and juice of one lemon
- 100 g / 7 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 100 g / 1 cup icing sugar
- 50 g / 1 large egg
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- 30 g / 1/3 cup almond flour
- 70 g / 3/4 cup hazelnut flour
- 6 g / 2 tsp cornstarch
- 35 g / 1/4 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
- Icing sugar
- In mixer bowl, place in butter, salt, and icing sugar. Beat with a paddle attachment on medium speed until it is well mixed, becoming pale in colour.
- Add in vanilla extract, and eggs in 3 additions, make sure it is well incorporated before adding more eggs. Scrape down the sides bowl after each addition to ensure even distribution.
- On low speed, add in flour, mix until just incorporated, don't over mix otherwise tart will be tough.
- Shape dough into a round disk, wrap and chill in refrigerator overnight.
- Before rolling, let dough sit out for about 10 minutes to soften. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 3-4mm thick, turning the dough after each roll to prevent sticking, flour as needed.
- Measure the size of your tart pan/ring, cut out a 30cm round shape.
- If the dough is too warm, place it back in the fridge to chill, otherwise you can start lining the pan/ring. When lining, be sure to get into the edges on the bottom, flush the dough right up to the top of the pan, trim off excess.
- Chill lined pan/ring. Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork before baking, or blind bake them (yields nicer looking shells - optional). Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Blind baking: Line chilled tart pan/rings with parchment, fill with beans or rice, up to the top. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes until the shells sets, take out and remove paper, beans and take out from the pans/rings, cool until ready to use.
- Peel pears, core and cut into quarters.
- Place liqueur, water, vanilla pod, lemon peel and juice in a medium pot. Heat on medium heat until it starts to simmer, put in prepared pears. Cover pot with lid and lower heat to medium low, simmer pears for about 15 minutes, turning them halfway.
- Drain off liquid, and cool until ready to use.
- In a mixer bowl, beat butter and icing sugar on medium speed until light and pale. Add in egg, salt, and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate, scrape bowl.
- Mix in nut flours and cornstarch and mix until well blended. Use right away or transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Spread hazelnut frangipane onto par-baked shell.
- Slice poached pear quarters into 3-4 slices and arrange onto filled shell. Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until it is golden around the edges.
- Once cool, garnish edges with hazelnuts, and dust with icing sugar.
Cassis is also known is black currant. It was one of my favourite candy flavours when I was young. I recently discovered crème de cassis on a trip to the liquor store. I experimented with adding it into my pot of blueberry jam and something magical happened. The jam was made so much better as the flavours complemented each other so well, the liqueur added depth and complexity to the otherwise quite monotone jam. I was pleasantly surprised, my aunt who tasted it was so impressed.
Ripened pears has such a nice mild floral flavour, and the black currant liqueur adds a distinct fruitiness. The poached fruit is so juicy and velvety that made the hazelnut filling even more creamy. I also like the contrast of the colour of the liqueur with the white pear flesh. You can get creative with the arranging and style, and no Valentine’s day is complete without some kind of flower hence the pear rose in the center. So on this Valentine’s day, say I love you with this lovely tart instead of chocolates!
How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said. ~Victor Hugo