Chai-Spiced Custard Pear Tart with Toasted Almonds and Salted Caramel

Custard Pear Tart with Salted Caramel

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

I was sipping a chai latte while wandering through the produce section at the grocery store a few weeks ago and the idea for this tart popped into my head when I walked past the pears. Ah, pears. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them actually. They look beautiful and taste fantastic when they are ripe but have you ever found a ripe pear in the store? Me neither. They are always hard as a rock and give me no indication whatsoever as to how long they might take to become edible. These pears here took nearly two weeks but I admit it was worth the wait, the tart turned out really wonderful.

Here’s how it goes: you start with a regular pie crust and while that’s pre-baking you infuse a cream/milk/sugar mix with my standard chai spices: fresh ginger, cardamom, cloves, a cinnamon stick and black peppercorns. Once that’s done you turn it into a custard by mixing in a few eggs, pour it into the tart shell and then simply lay the sliced pears into it. Slide the tart back in the oven and whip up a caramel sauce to drizzle over it. Chill the tart, then add a few toasted sliced almonds for a bit of crunch and a sprinkle of fleur de sel and voila, that’s it!

Pears

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Chai Spiced Custard Pear Tart with Toasted Almonds and Salted Caramel
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients:
For the crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons ice water (more if needed)
For the filling:
  • ¾ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 half-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper corns
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 ripe Bosc pears
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • toasted sliced almonds
  • caramel sauce (I have a recipe here, just leave out the pumpkin spice)
  • fleur de sel
Instructions:
For the crust:
  1. Whisk flour and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Add the shortening and the butter and cut them in with a pastry cutter until you have the consistency of a meal.
  3. Sprinkle the water over the fat/flour mix and bring the dough together with your hands. (If the dough doesn't come together, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time).
  4. Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Roll out the dough and fit into an 8-inch greased tart pan.
  6. Put back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  7. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Line the dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove the weights and the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. While the crust bakes, make the custard.
For the custard:
  1. Add cream, milk, sugar and spices to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat off, cover and let the mix steep for about 30 minutes.
  3. Peel, core and slice the pears. Set aside.
  4. Strain the spices out of the cream mix.
  5. Whisk the egg and the yolks in a bowl, then whisk the cream/spice mix into them.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F.
  7. Fill the custard into the pie shell, lay the pear slices into it and bake until the custard is set (50 minutes or more).
  8. Let the tart cool to room temperature, then drizzle with caramel sauce and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  9. Add the sliced almonds on top and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Food Photography and Styling: I was actually going for elegant with this tart but it ended up looking a little more, err, rough around the edges so I went with a dark, rustic scene instead. Since the fruit is completely hidden in this tart I set two raw pears in the back to tell the viewer that this is a pear tart (and I posted a still life of pears as well for good measure). The sauce server and the little salt dish fit with the salted caramel topping and the knife implies that someone is there, about to slice a piece.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.

Chai-Spiced Custard Pear Tart with Salted Caramel

30 comments

  1. Angela - Patisserie Makes Perfect says:

    This looks great Nicole. Is it the photography you like the most or creating the food for it?

    I personally love the baking and the photography is something I’m beginning to embrace more, but I wondered what your passion is. You make such beautiful things and you capture them so well.

    • Nicole B. says:

      That is very sweet of you to say, thank you, Angela! It’s an interesting question. My passion certainly lies mainly with food photography but I am getting more and more interested in recipe development as well. I do find it very challenging to come up with new recipes but when I have a winner I do feel quite good about it. :)

  2. Melinda says:

    I am so in love with Chai too. And pears, you are 100% correct. They are rarley ripe at the store and may or may not be ripe when I need them for a recipe I am planning. But, oh so good.

  3. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says:

    Fess up!! Those pears aren’t real — they look too perfect. What a great shot and I love how you arrived at your story. I always like your dark and broody. The chai flavor with the pears sound simply wonderful! I could see me enjoying this with a dark roast coffee– inhaling the rich fragrance and slowing savoring the tart. Great recipe and shots!!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Hahaha, no, no, those were real pears but I managed to hide all the blemishes in the dark (a big advantage of the dark and broody look). Thank you so much, Marisa! (And P.S. I bought farro yesterday).

  4. Kokodynia says:

    Chai latte may helps in creating awesome recipes! My relationship with pears is similar and I adore their shape and flavour :-)
    Ripe pears smell heavenily!
    Actually I completely cut off cloves , I find it as a killer of another smells – or maybe I added too much to my last gingerbread :-)

    • Nicole B. says:

      I totally know what you mean with cloves, they can be very overwhelming. I once accidentally bit into a one I had left in a stew and I almost got sick, ick.

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Hannah! I’ve started to drink chai lattes every morning too, they are so delicious. Let me know how you like the tart if you end up making it. :)

  5. Bam's Kitchen says:

    Gorgeous dessert and a great dessert transition going from winter to Spring. I feel the same way about pears here in HK. Always hard as a rock and the Asian pear is never easy to determine if they are ripe or not so I always ask my fruit vendor the best ones to choose in the market. Love your strobe lighting Nicole just perfect. I am still here working with Natural light…

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you, Kevin! It’s so interesting, there seems to be a lot of variation between Costcos in different places. Ours is fantastic with cheese and seafood but almost none of its produce is, let’s say, up to scratch.

  6. Louise | Cygnet Kitchen says:

    Your photos always tell such a beautiful story Nicole! I do love a ripe pear, there is nothing more bland and disappointing when they are bullet hard. This tart would definitively be worth the two week wait for them to soften. x

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