This delightful Pear Tart is filled with a frangipane cream made with pistachios rather than the usual almonds, which gives it a dazzling green colour and stunning flavour. It’s a perfect Autumn dessert that makes the most of ripe pears when they’re in season. Smart and yet rustically casual, this tart is fitting for any occasion!
Pistachio Pear Tart
My simple mind classifies pies as “cosy” while tarts as “a bit show off”. Tarts are just that much more elegant in my mind, with finer pastry and being neatly sliceable, they present more beautifully. Think of the glossy sweet creations gracing the shelves of your favourite high street patisserie!
Well, this pear tart might be a bit more on the rustic side compared to your average high street shop (that said, I’ve got a posher, but very easy one coming up soon for you!) but I still think it’s beautiful. Doesn’t the tart slice look gorgeous, with the gently arching forms of the soft, poached vanilla pears??
What goes in Pistachio Pear Tart
Here are the three components of this Pistachio Pear Tart:
Sweet Tart Crust Pastry (my go-to pastry crust for sweet tarts) – Use your favourite tart crust recipe, if you have one. I’m using a French Sweet Tart Crust called Pâte Sucrée. It is similar to a traditional sweet Shortcrust Pastry, except it’s easier to work with (more pliable), slightly less flaky (thus easier to eat with a fork, a good thing), a bit richer mouthful (definitely a good thing). It’s also French, so you get to sound a bit fancy-pants when you say it ;
Pistachio cream filling (frangipane) – This is a classic tart filling called frangipane which is typically made using almond meal. We’re making it with pistachios instead for a slightly upmarket take, which gives a different flavour and has a beautiful green colour that contrasts strikingly against the pale colour of the pear (otherwise the whole tart is just yellow inside); and
Vanilla poached pears – Pears are one of the few fruits that can be poached whole until really soft yet still hold their form. We’re poaching it in a vanilla-flavoured sugar syrup to infuse it with taste and extra sweetness.
1. Sweet Tart Crust
See here for the recipe. I’ve published the tart crust recipe separately because it’s an excellent master pastry recipe to add to your repertoire for all your sweet tartly needs! It contains the usual step-by-step process photos and a short recipe tutorial video.
2. Pistachio cream filling (frangipane)
This is the pistachio version of a classic frangipane cream filling which is typically made with almond meal. The pistachios give it a gorgeous green hue that is a fabulous contrast to the cream white of the pear flesh!
It’s simple to make – a few ingredients, just mixed together by hand.
Pistachio cream filling ingredients
Pistachios – You get bonus points if you shell and de-skin your own, but I bought mine already shelled! The brighter green the nuts, the better it will look. Just make sure they are unsalted and roasted. The default sold in packets are roasted – it’s harder to find raw;
Sugar – Just white sugar, preferably caster/superfine because it dissolves more easily. However even ordinary white sugar will be fine here;
Softened butter – The sugar and butter are mixed by hand, so the butter needs to be quite soft; and
Eggs – Large ones, standardised at 55-60g / 2 oz each and sold labelled as “large eggs” on the cartons. Make sure they are at room temperature not fridge-cold. Otherwise, you will find it hard to incorporate them into the butter mixture since cold eggs will make butter solidify, so they don’t mix together well.
How to make the pistachio filling
Blitz pistachios into a fine powder using your appliance of choice (I’ve used a Nutribullet);
Cream butter and sugar in a bowl using a wooden spoon. By “cream”, we mean mixing them together until the butter is smooth;
Whisk in eggs until incorporated; and
Stir in pistachio powder. And this is what it looks like – how awesome is the colour!!?
3. Vanilla poached pears for Pear Tart
As mentioned above, pears are one of the few fruits that can be poached whole until very soft, but still retain their shape. This makes them ideal to use in desserts to make the most of their beautiful and distinct shape.
Poached pear ingredients
Pears – Any type of pears will be fine here, as long as they are ripe but still firm. If they are too soft when raw, they will be a bit more difficult to handle once poached. I’m using Williams pears, called Bartlett pear in the US and Canada. It’s a very common type of pear.
Alternatives to pears – use apricots or apples (Aus: Jazz or pink lady are ideal, US: honey crisp). Peaches would work too. Poach until soft using the provided poaching recipe;
Sugar – For the poaching liquid, to infuse the pears with a touch of sweetness; and
Vanilla – I’m taking the economical route and using vanilla extract here. If your budget stretches to it, use a vanilla bean. If you’re clever and organised enough to have saved used vanilla beans pods used previously, pop a couple in instead of using extract. Or use vanilla powder, or vanilla infused sugar instead of regular sugar – lots of vanilla-boosting options here!
How to make vanilla poached pears
Peel, halve and core the pears. I use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds but even a teaspoon will work fine;
Poaching liquid – Place the water, vanilla and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat so the surface is rippling but there are no large bubbles breaking the surface. Tiny bubbles are fine;
Poach pears – Place pears in the water and poach for 20 minutes until fully soft, all the way through. Sometimes it can take up to 30 minutes. It depends how dense and ripe the pears are and how well you control the stove to maintain the water temperature so it’s rippling but not bubbling;
Check that the pear is soft all the way through by inserting a knife into the side or underside, NOT the top of the pear (the slits will widen when baked, which doesn’t look great!)
4. Assembling & baking this Pear Tart
And now, putting the tart together:
Pour the pistachio filling into the tart shell and spread evenly;
Place 7 pear halves on the surface in a radial pattern with the narrow end pointing inwards. Cut the 8th half so it fits in the middle to complete;
Bake for 35 minutes at 200°C/390°F (180°C fan) for 35 minutes; and
When it’s ready, the surface will puff up slightly and be a beautiful bronze colour.
Finishing: To give it a lovely shiny finish, brush with warmed apricot jam. Finally, sprinkle over finely chopped pistachios.
What to serve with Pistachio Pear Tart
I have inhaled more than my fair share of this tart just as it is. Cut a wedge, pick up with hands and devour … yum!
However, when I’m sharing with others (which does happen on occasion), I will go to the effort of dressing it up a touch! A dollop of creme fraiche is a suitably sophisticated accompaniment, with a richer, more velvety mouthfeel than whipped cream and a tang that plays well against anything sweet.
Otherwise, whipped cream, vanilla (or other flavour) ice cream is perfectly good. Then top with the chopped pistachios. I like to chop it finely enough so you get some “dust” because I think it looks nice, but it’s entirely up to you!
This autumnal beauty is fit to serve for morning tea, afternoon tea, dessert after dinner, and everything in between. – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Pistachio Pear Tart
- 1 Sweet Tart Crust (Note 1)
- 4 pears (of equal size, 220g/7oz each, ~10cm/4″ tall, Note 2)
- 1 lemon , to acidulate water and stop pears from going brown (Note 3)
- 2 litres / 2 quarts water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp vanilla powder (Note 4)
Pistachio Cream Filling (Frangipane):
- 100g / 7 tbsp unsalted butter , softened, cut into 1cm / 0.4″ cubes
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 2 large eggs , 55-60g / 2 oz each, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup pistachios (unsalted, roasted) , shelled and skinned (blitz until fine powder)
- 2 1/2 tbsp pistachios (unsalted, roasted) , finely chopped (for sprinkling)
- 2 tbsp apricot jam , mixed with 1 tsp water and warmed in microwave (for glazing)
Make and bake Tart Crust, then fully cool before using.
Peel, remove stem, then halve and core (I use melon baller). Keep peeled pears in a separate bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice (to stop them going brown).
Place 2L / 2 quarts water, sugar and vanilla in a pot and bring it to a boil. Lower heat so the water is rippling but there are no large bubbles breaking on surface. Beads of tiny bubbles is fine.
Place pears into pot, poach for 20 – 25 minutes until pears are soft all the way through. Check with a knife on the side, not top of pears. (Note 5).
Once cooked, drain on paper towels until fully cool.
Mix butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Add eggs one at a time, whisking each until fully incorporated before adding the next.
Mix in pistachio until fully incorporated.
Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F (180°C fan).
Spread pistachio mixture in tart crust, and smooth the surface.
Place 7 pear halves on top in a radial pattern with the narrow ends pointing inwards. Cut the 8th half so it will fit in the centre, and place in middle of tart. Slightly push pears in so that they’re partially submerged (see reference photo / video above).
Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven.
While still warm, brush with apricot jam glaze to make it shiny, then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
Fully cool, then slice to serve. It’s beautiful just served as-is. Optional extras: a dollop of creme fraiche (pictured in post), whipped cream or ice cream.
2. Pears – Don’t get pears that are too soft because they’re more difficult to handle once cooked.
Alternatives to pears: Apricots or apples! (Aus: Jazz or pink lady are ideal, US: honey crisp). Peaches would work too. Poach until soft using the provided poaching recipe;
3. Lemon – For acidulating water, which stops the pears going brown while you peel and core the remainder.
4. Vanilla – Alternatively, two used vanilla bean pods or 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
5. Checking pears – Don’t insert the knife on the top of the pears to check if they are cooked. The top is the presentation side but the slit will widen when the tart bakes and it looks unattractive! Check on the side or underside of the pear.
6. Storage – Keeps for 1 week. Can be frozen, but pear texture may suffer.
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