Pear and Pistachio Cream Tart Recipe
This decadent Pear and Pistachio Cream Tart Recipe features a flaky, sweet Linzer pastry crust topped with a tantalizing pistachio cream filling and topped with colorful braised pears and candied pistachios. Absolutely a to-die-for dessert!
Let me say how biased I am toward this dessert as I simply LOVE braised pears, especially when cooked in a lovely Port wine! A Malbec would be my second favorite for braising almost any fruit, you could also use Shiraz, Syrah or Zinfandel. I’m pretty sure that at least a quarter of the slices I started with were considered ‘imperfect’ and had to be eaten…
There are several parts to this recipe and some refrigeration time required, so be sure to plan for making this on a day that you can spend ample time on it or plan ahead and refrigerate a part or two overnight. I did refrigerate both my pastry crust dough and the pistachio cream overnight with fantastic results, which left me plenty of time the next day to roll out my pastry crust and bake it while braising my pears.
You can use any sweet pastry dough or follow along with the Linzer pastry dough that we made for this tart. Make sure that whatever pastry dough recipe that you use will be enough to line a 9 inch tart pan. If you are using a food processor (rather than combining the pastry dough by hand) it is important to keep your dough cooled as it will easily get warm in the food processor. If this happens the crust will tend to be crumbly rather than flaky. When using a food processor, I will blitz my ingredients in short bursts and then, if necessary, place the food processor bowl with the dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to prevent melting my butter.
For the Linzer pastry dough, you will need almond flour, cake flour, butter, confectioners sugar, an egg, and almond extract. Cube your cold butter and return it to the refrigerator while you gather the rest of your ingredients. Combine both the flours, sugar and salt and mix them before adding the butter. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry cutter, then put your bowl in the freezer for about ten minutes. When you return to working the dough, squeeze the butter crumbles to flatten them so they will form flaky layers. Beat your egg and the almond extract in a small bowl and combine with your flour and butter mixture, just long enough for the dough to come together into a loose, crumbly dough. Gather the dough together and shape into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.
When the dough is chilled, transfer it to a floured working surface and roll it out so that the dough is 4 inches larger in diameter than your tart pan. If the dough cracks while you are rolling it out, patch it with another piece of the dough and continue to roll out your dough. Once you have your dough rolled out so that is large enough to completely fill the tart pan (and cut off excess when you trim it to fit properly), roll your dough up onto your rolling pin and gently lift and transfer while rolling it back out over your tart pan. Press the dough down into the pan, fill any cracks by pressing the sides together or patching with small bits of dough, then trim along the edges leaving a bit of a lip over the edge of the tart pan. Go along the edge of the pan and shape the lip of the dough left when trimming so that it is in line with the rise of the dough in the pan (but not overhanging the pan edge, as it will break when you remove the crust).
Bake the tart shell ‘blind’ before adding the filling. To do this, line the inside of the tart with parchment paper leaving enough to easily remove the paper and whatever you used for weighting it down (baking weights, rice or dry beans all will work for this). Bake the tart shell at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 15 minutes or until the crust edge is a light golden brown, then remove the baking weights and parchment paper and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. The baked crust should look golden brown and not have any shiny areas remaining.
*For ease of removing the cooked tart, I recommend a tart pan with a removable bottom.
For the pastry cream, you will need shelled pistachios, sugar, whole milk, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extract, and unsalted butter (cold). Start with blitzing the shelled pistachios and the first portion of sugar in a food processor for about one minute, or until the nuts are very finely ground. Transfer the sugar and ground pistachios to a medium saucepan, add the milk, and bring the pistachio mixture to a boil. While waiting for the pistachio mixture to boil, whisk the the second portion of sugar with the egg yolks and cornstarch in a small bowl. Once they are well blended and the mixture is smooth, whisk in both the vanilla and almond extracts. To temper the eggs in this second mixture (so they don’t cook when added to the boiling pistachio mixture), slowly whisk in one quarter of the heated pistachio mixture. Drizzle the hot pistachio mixture in for the first quarter, whisking it vigorously, then add the pistachio mixture in a slow steady stream for the remaining three quarters and continue to whisk vigorously until both components are thoroughly combined.
Return the mixture back to your saucepan and set at a medium heat to bring it back to a boil. Whisk it continuously during this reheating, and vigorously for one minute while boiling. Remove from heat and transfer to a clean bowl, then stir in the butter one piece at a time. Set your smaller bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes to cool it quickly and cover with plastic wrap placed directly onto the cream surface to prevent an unwanted ‘skin’ from forming on the top of the mixture. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least four hours (can be refrigerated for up to four days).
To braise the pears, first peel the pears and place each into a bowl of water with the lemon juice added to it once peeled. Start your frying pan or skillet (with sides high enough to boil the liquid when covering the pears halfway) at a medium high heat, add the wine, sugar, and both orange and lemon zests and bring to a boil. Add the peeled pears and reduce the heat to medium low to simmer the wine sauce and braise the pears, turning frequently to ensure an even color on them, for about 30 minutes or until tender when tested with a fork. Once tender set the pears into a medium bowl and pour the braising syrup over them. Allow to cool at room temperature until ready to assemble the tart (or refrigerate once cooled until you are going to assemble the tart, the pears and liquid can be refrigerated for up to three days).
If you would like to caramelize the pistachios for placing on top of the completed tart, combine a 1/2 cup of your most vibrant green shelled pistachios with 3 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp water in a small non-stick saucepan or skillet. Heat on medium high and stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar turns a caramel brown color. Turn pistachios to coat completely and remove them to a silicone mat or piece of parchment paper, setting them so they are not touching. Allow the caramelized pistachios to cool, and either leave them whole or coarse chop them for adding to the top of the tart. Keep in a cool, dry place until ready to use.
If you want to make the syrup form the braising sauce, combine the braising liquid from the pears with 2 tbsp of honey in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil at medium high heat, stirring frequently. Continue to boil until the sauce has become syrupy and is thick enough that it leaves a coating on a spoon when removed from the liquid. Allow the syrup to cool at room temperature, or place in a container and refrigerate to chill until serving your tart.
Once you are ready to assemble your tart in your pastry crust (that is already removed from the tart pan), spread your pistachio cream in the tart crust. Place your braised pears on paper towels and pat them dry, then cut in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, I usually remove the core by scooping under the core from both sides of the pear and then grabbing the core and gently pulling the stem out with it. Slice each pear half into 4-6 slices and arrange them on top of the pistachio cream by starting in a spiral on the outer edge and working toward the tart center. Top with the optional pistachios, caramelized or not and either ground, chopped or left whole. Serve with the optional syrup, if desired.
*We stored the remaining tart in Tupperware overnight and had delicious pear tart on night two! Yum!
Pear and Pistachio Cream Tart Recipe
Linzer Pastry Dough
- 2/3 c almond flour
- 1 2/3 c cake flour
- 10 Tbsp butter (cold, cubed)
- 3/4 c confectioners sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2/3 c pistachios (green nuts only, shelled)
- 7 Tbsp sugar (2 portions - 3 Tbsp and 4 Tbsp)
- 1 1/3 c whole milk
- 4 egg yolks (large eggs)
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch (sifted)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 Tbsp butter (unsalted, cold, cubed)
- 5 pears (ripe but firm)
- 3 c Port wine (or Malbec - also Syrah, Shiraz, Zinfandel)
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1 lemon (zest and juice)
- 1 orange (zest)
- If using a food processor: Combine both of the flours, sugar, and salt before adding the butter. Add the cubed butter in and blitz in short bursts, and then place the food processor bowl with the dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes between bursts to keep the butter cold. Beat the egg and almond extract in a small bowl, add to the food processor bowl and combine just enough to moisten the ingredients and form a crumbly dough.
- By hand: Combine both of the flours, sugar, and salt before adding the butter. Add the cubed butter in and cut it in using a pastry cutter until crumbly, then place your bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. While the dough is in the freezer, beat the egg and almond extract together in a small bowl. Take the dough back out of the freezer and squeeze the butter crumbs between your fingertips to flatten into flakes, then add beaten egg and almond extract and combine just enough to moisten the ingredients and form a crumbly dough.
- Pull the dough together and form a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface until it is 4 inches wider in diameter than your 9 inch tart pan. Roll onto your rolling pin and transfer into the tart pan, trim and shape the edges. Lien the inside with parchment paper and weight the crust dough down.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden, remove the parchment paper and contents and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown and there is no longer any shiny (wet) spots on the crust.
- Blitz the shelled pistachios and the first portion of sugar (3 Tbsp) in a food processor for about one minute, or until the pistachios are very finely ground. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and ground pistachios with milk and cook on medium high heat and bring to a boil.
- While waiting for the pistachio mixture to boil, whisk the second sugar portion (4 Tbsp), eggs yolks, and cornstarch together until smooth. Add the vanilla and almond extract and whisk to combine.
- Drizzle in 1/4 of the boiled pistachio mixture, whisking vigorously while adding. Continue to add the remaining 3/4 of the pistachio mixture in a slow stream and whisk vigorously during this as well.
- Return the pistachio mixture to your saucepan and cook on medium heat, whisk continuously while returning the mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, whisking vigorously then remove from heat.
- Transfer to a clean bowl and stir in the butter one piece at a time, then place plastic wrap directly on the surface. Set the bowl with the mixture into a larger bowl containing ice to chill quickly. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least four hours (can be refrigerated for up to four days).
- Peel the pears and place each into a bowl of water with the lemon juice in it once peeled. Heat your frying pan or skillet (with sides high enough to boil the liquid when covering the pears halfway) to medium high heat, add the wine, sugar, and zests and bring to a boil.
- Add the peeled pears and reduce heat to medium, to simmering. Turn the pears while braising to coat evenly with the wine sauce. Braise the pears for about 30 minutes or until tender when forked.
- Transfer the braised pears to a medium bowl and pour the braising sauce over them. Allow to cool at room temperature until ready to assemble the tart (or refrigerate until later).
Assembling the Tart
- Spread the pistachio cream in your tart crust.
- Place the braised pears onto paper towels and pat them dry. Cut the pears in half lengthwise and remove the cores and stems. Slice each half into 4-6 slices and arrange on top of the pistachio cream, starting on the outer edge and working toward the center in a spiral.
- Top with the optional pistachios, caramelized or not and either ground, chopped or left whole. Serve with the optional syrup, if desired.