So as I was making this tart last week, I tweeted out a rather striking photo of the pears just after they'd finished caramelizing. Strikingness of the photo aside, this was a thoroughly mundane event. However, this being the internet, my innocent dissemination of a photo of pears elicited a disproportionately raw response:
@simonmaloy Less than .02% of your followers give a shart about your food. Thanks for caring
— Chris Reier (@seeryer) December 7, 2012
I understand the sentiment of the complaint -- if it is a complaint. After all, the internet is littered with amateurs such as myself posting poorly lit and grainy photographs of whatever happens to be on their plates. I try to bring something more to the affair, but I can see how lumping me in with the rest makes sense, at least in the eyes of a frustrated tweeter.
The logic, however, escapes me. Was he including himself in the 0.02 percent? It's possible, given the "thanks for caring" sign off (though I don't really know what to make of that). And what of this "giving a shart" business? I'm all too aware of the meaning of this portmanteau neologism, and it is a thoroughly undesirable notion to "give" something of that nature with regard to one's cookery.
I am flummoxed.
My flummoxing stems not least from the fact that caramelized pears are an unchallenged good, particularly -- as is the case here -- when browned in butter. Sliced and nestled in an eggy custard with crystalized ginger to cut the sweet a bit, they are the makings of a fine tart for the holiday season.
Owing to the overabundance of confusion, I've decided to seize the initiative and turn this strange business into something positive. A rallying cry, if you will, to foster holiday pastry appreciation. So please...
Give a shart. Bake a tart.
Recipe after the jump.
4 ripe Bartlett pears, skinned, halved, and cored
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
3 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
Pie dough recipe, and tips for rolling out, here. (Recipe makes enough dough for 2 tarts.)
Preheat the oven to 375.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Place a pears in the pan, cut side down, and saute (untouched) for 5-10 minutes or until well-browned. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Butter the inside of a fluted tart pan. Roll out the pie dough and carefully flip it into the tart pan, pressing down the edges to the shape of the pan. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the dough several times, then line the dough with parchment paper and weigh down with pastry weights or dried beans or uncooked rice. Set in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the tart shell is baking, whisk together in a medium bowl the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add the cream and whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
When the tart shell has finished baking, set on the counter (over a trivet!). Spread the crystallized ginger pieces evenly about the bottom of the tart. Slice the caramelized pears width-wise and carefully transfer the sliced pears to the tart shell, tilting the slices gently towards the center of the tart (see smaller photo above). Arrange all the pears around the tart in this fashion.
Make sure the tart is level on it surface and slowly pour the custard into the shell, taking care to fill all the little crevices, but to not pour in so much that it overflows. Carefully transfer the filled tart back to the oven, and back for another 40-45 minutes, or until the custard has browned slightly and puffed, and is completely set. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.