Poached Pear Tart with Shortbread Crust
- Peel pears, leaving stems intact. Cut pears in half lengthwise. Use a melon baller to remove cores from pears. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine apple juice, the water, the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, half of the vanilla bean, and the fresh ginger. Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add the pear halves. Return liquid to simmering. Simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes or until pears are just tender. Remove from heat and transfer the pears and poaching liquid to a bowl; cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For crust, in a food processor,* combine flour and powdered sugar. Cover and process until combined. Add butter. Cover and pulse with on/off turns until mixture forms fine crumbs. Dough will look dry. Press mixture onto the bottom and 1-1/2 inches up the side of an 9-inch springform pan. Line the crust with a double thickness of foil. Bake 12 minutes. Carefully remove foil. Bake 8 to 12 minutes more or until edges are lightly browned and bottom looks dry. Cool on a wire rack.
- For custard, in a heavy medium saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Stir in milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Gradually stir about 1 cup of the hot mixture into beaten eggs. Return all of the egg mixture to the saucepan. Stir in the crystallized ginger. Cook and stir until bubbly. Reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Place saucepan in a large bowl of ice water. Stir the custard for 2 minutes to cool quickly. Using a small knife, scrape seeds from the inside of the remaining half of the vanilla bean; add to custard mixture. Pour custard into baked crust, spreading evenly. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Remove pears from poaching liquid; set aside. For glaze, transfer 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid to a small saucepan. Discard remaining poaching liquid. Add the 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch to the saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and cool to room temperature.
- To assemble tart, slice pear halves to but not through the top to form fans. Arrange the pear fans in the center of the tart to form a circle, placing the stem ends in the center of the tart. Drizzle cooled glaze evenly over the top of the tart. Using a sharp thin knife, loosen side of crust from the pan. Remove side of pan before serving. Makes 10 servings.
From the Test Kitchen
*Test Kitchen Tip:
If you do not wish to use a food processor, combine flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture starts to cling together. Pat mixture into pan and continue as directed above.