Makes 1, 8 to 9-inch tart
If there is anything better than a custard tart, it has to be this pear and custard tart.
Perfect Pastry (remember, you can freeze leftover pastry)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Make the pastry and chill for about thirty minutes. Use the chilled pastry to line an 8 to 9-inch pie pan or tart shell. * Lightly beat the egg white and use to paint the pastry. This will help to keep the crust from getting soggy. Refrigerate until needed.
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk or half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
3/4 cup sugar – (or to taste)
A few grindings of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350°. Beat the eggs until well blended and mix with remaining ingredients. Pour the custard into the prepared pie or tart pan and place the pan inside a larger baking dish. Place on the center rack of the oven and fill the outer baking pan half full of hot water, thus making a water bath. Bake for forty-five to fifty minutes, or until the custard is set. Insert a bamboo skewer into the center. If it comes out clean it is done. Turn off the heat and open the oven door ajar. Allow the pie or tart to cool in the oven.
2 cups of water or apple juice
2/4 cup of sugar
1 small piece of cinnamon stick or thin slice of fresh ginger root
3 or 4 large perfect pears
Combine the sugar and liquid and add the cinnamon or ginger root. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and continue to cook for about five minute. Meanwhile, peel and core the pears and cut in half. Add to the poaching liquid and continue to cook for five to ten minutes, or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Remove from the liquid and allow to drain thoroughly.
When the pie is cooled, remove from the oven. Slice the pear half, lengthwise into about six equal pieces. Arrange these, small end towards the center, around the outer edge of the pie or tart. Melt the apple jelly and use to paint a glaze over the pears. Serve at room temperature, perhaps with a dollop of thick cream Crème Freîsh or Mascarpone cheese.
* If you use a tart pan with a removable bottom, be sure to wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil so that the water bath doesn’t leak in and make the crust soggy.