Poached Pear & Caramelized Pistachio Tart

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Warning: The recipe you are about to view has been proven to cause minor bodily injury. It should only be performed by a trained professional or under strict supervision by an adult. Kids, do not try this at home.
*This is what I wished it said at the top of the recipe.*

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While my last entry had little musing to go along with the awesomeness of rice pudding, this tart is the culmination of a culinary saga. It all started when I decided to reorganize our pantry (don’t you just hate it when one “simple” task manifests into several other tasks?). I discovered two packages of unopened pistachios that I had purchased during the holidays with the intention of making something out of them. Oopsie.

Well, it’s never too late. Unless of course, it was a glass of milk sitting on the porch, basking in 95 degree weather for 10 hours. But I digress. As I was perusing the internet for ideas, I stumbled upon this tart recipe on Epicurious. And as serendipity would have it, I had a few pears left over from my “Poached Pears in a Shiraz Reduction” sitting in our freezer.
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Although the recipe included a homemade tart, I decided to take a shortcut and buy the store-bought pie crust. As it turns out, my feeble attempt at an easy breezy dessert was in vain. The first crust shrank beyond recognition while the second tart somehow puffed over the makeshift weights I used. So I decided to finally man up and make my first ever tart crust despite my severe lack of experience.

The recipe called for mixing the dough in a food processor which, unfortunately, our mini version could not accommodate nor do I own a pastry blender. My first bright idea? Let’s try to use the hand blender! Oh, the naive, ditzy girl that I am. Obviously the blades jammed from the doughy mass and my next bright idea? Let’s unclog this mess by sweeping my fingers around the blades. And my third’s-a-charm idea? Let’s NOT unplug the electrical equipment and accidentally press the “ON” button while my fingers are in the line of fire. Okay, so the last part wasn’t actually an idea because having an idea would insinuate that my brain was actually functioning.
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I’ll save you the gory details but let’s just say it nearly sent us on a late night field trip to the emergency room. Luckily I didn’t sever any nerves, other than our own hysteria.
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I never did successfully make my own pastry dough and I ended up buying yet another package of pre-made crust. I still ruined the first one (it’s a two-pack) but miraculously, the second one was presentable. At the end, he asked me, “Was it worth it?” To which I replied, “Not so much.”
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Ingredients (pistachio pastry cream):

2/3 cup shelled raw pistachio, grounded to a fine powder
7 Tbsp sugar
1 1/3 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
5 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
  1. Finely grind pistachios and 3 tablespoons sugar in processor. Transfer nut mixture to heavy medium saucepan; add milk and bring to boil. Whisk remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, yolks, and cornstarch in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return mixture to same pan; whisk constantly over medium-high heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk butter into pastry cream, 1 piece at a time. Transfer pastry cream to bowl; press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Stir in cream. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Ingredients (caramelized pistachios):

3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup shelled raw pistachios
  1. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir sugar and 2 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup turns medium amber color, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush and swirling pan. Immediately add pistachios; stir until caramel is deep amber and coats nuts. Immediately spread nuts on prepared baking sheet, separating any clumps. Cool completely. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Poached Pears:

Check out my “Poached Pears in a Shiraz Reduction” recipe here.

Crust:

I used Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust but you can check out the homemade recipe on Epicurious.

To assemble tart:

Spread the pistachio pastry cream over the crust. Arrange thin slices of poached pears decoratively over the pastry cream. Top with caramelized pistachios. Serve chilled with a side of the shiraz reduction sauce. Yields 6-8 servings.

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