I have something to confess to you, in the month of December alone (which let’s remember there are still 11 days to go) I’ve gone through oh I don’t know about 5 maybe 6 pounds of butter? I mean, have you seen the desserts I’ve been posting? Not to mention there was a cookie takedown thrown in the mix, 300 cookies involve a lot of butter.
While I don’t actual condone consuming that much butter in such a short period time, if you are going to do it, go with the best. My personal favorite for baking (and slathering on a piece of toast) is Kerrygold Butter. Kerrygold has a higher butterfat content, which makes it perfect for baking and it comes from milk of cows that are free from hormones and are grass fed. There are tons of benefits of using grass fed, cultured butter too and while I’d love to list them I have a recipe to get to, so check out this article for more information.
Back in November I asked some of you on my Facebook page what dessert you wanted to see next from me, the options were a savory biscuit with cranberries or a pear and chocolate tart. The biscuit won out, but I really didn’t want to give up on eventually making this tart.
When Kerrygold announced a holiday baking contest in their November blogger newsletter, I knew the time had come to make my Pear and Chocolate Tart. An all butter pastry crust is baked with a chocolate custard so rich, it was a challenge not to toss it into my ice cream maker! Pears from my winter CSA share help tone down the richness of the chocolate custard and it’s finished with a tart cranberry puree.
Generally I’m not one for rolling out pastry dough but I’m not kidding when I said above Kerrygold is perfect for baking. In a matter of moments my dough came together and I was able to roll it into a perfectly smooth and even circle. Usually the dough tears and falls apart as I work with it, but not this time. Oh the best part? No refrigeration time, from food processor, to floured work surface to tart pan and into the oven for to par-bake in a matter of minutes (err maybe about 10 but still).
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8oz, cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces – such as Kerrygold
- 3-4 tablespoons cold water
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 Comice or Williams Pears, halved and cored
- ½ cup granulated white sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, two knives or your hands add the butter – 2 tablespoons at a time and blend until the mixture looks like pebbles. You can also place everything in your food processor and pulse 5-6 times until the butter is broken up.
- Dribble in the water until the dough just comes together, make sure there are no dry patches and it easily forms into a ball. You may not need all the water. If using your food processor, with the motor running dribble the water through the top chute until the dough forms into a ball.
- Place the dough between two pieces of floured wax paper and roll into a 12inch wide circle at ¼ inch thickness, rotating the paper in quarter turns after every few rolls to ensure even thickness and a round shape.
- Remove the top piece of of wax paper and very carefully transfer the dough to 10inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Pinch the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, if it tears at any point just pat it back together.
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees and place the tart pan on a rimless baking sheet. Using a fork, prick holes all along the bottom, then cover with aluminum foil and hold down with pie weights or rice.
- Par bake the crust for 15 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 5. You want the crust to be dry but not brown.
- Remove from the oven.
- While the crust is baking start to prepare the custard:
- In a medium stock pot over medium heat combine the whole milk, flour, whole eggs, egg yolks, salt, chocolate and vanilla.
- Bring the liquid up to a simmer and constantly stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the custard is nice and thick. Lastly stir in the butter. The best way to test is to take a wooden spoon, dip it in the custard and run your finger against the back of the spoon. If the line you made stays, you are good to go.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, carefully strain the custard over the tart crust – this makes sure if any of the egg scrambled a little it doesn’t end up in the finished product.
- Take your halved pears and slice into ¼ in pieces, leave the root end in tack so you can fan them out.
- Carefully place the pears in a circle in the custard, most of the pears will sink into the custard when you do this.
- Return the tart to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the custard is set. It will puff up in the center and crack slightly but will sink down once cool.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, sugar and cranberries.
- Bring to a boil and cook until the cranberries begin to pop about 6-8 minutes. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. You want the cranberries to be nice and soft.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree.
- You can serve the tart warm or cold with the puree drizzled on top.
- Store in the the refrigerator wrapped tightly in foil for up to one week.