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French Pear Tart. For Julia Child 100th birthday

 A pair of pears © Cookaroo
I've been following the JC100  for a while now. Every week, I stop at the site and visit all the yummy things people have posted. There's beautifully risen cheese souffles with crisp tops. There's decadent devil chocolate mousse. There's Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce. There's, oh-my-god, so much more. And then I feel intimidated.

Not because I can't make these things, but because I don't know how week after week people are able to juggle work, follow JC100, follow the awesome recipes and post such lovely drool-worthy pictures straight out of Julia Child's cookbook. And then I feel small. I wish I could cook like that every single day. I wish my meals could be all that and more.

So last week, armed with a glut of pears, thanks to my aunt, I decided to make this after going through two batches of Pear and Chocolate Muffins. And then when two of my friends from college decided they wanted to come over for a gourmet meal, the pear tart seemed to fancy enough to be thrown into the mix.

As we sat around on that lazy Saturday, plodding our way through a four-course meal, we took a short break before we approached the dessert. We drank some wine, put our feet up and gossiped about all the people we knew in college. Talked about the nuns who'd taught us, talked about the last 13 years. And talked about how much or how little we'd changed.

All that apart, the final verdict however was, how easy it for them to bully me to make them a meal (and kindly note, I'm not easy to bully at all) back then as it was this time around. That's why, one of them said, it's just so easy to slip back into the same kind of friendship.

It's true. It was exactly like that with them. It's exactly the same for me and my cookbooks too. I haven't made a Julia Child recipe in at least a year now. And I forgot what an easygoing relationship the book and I had.

When I found what I was looking for, I realised I'd run out of red wine to poach the pears in, I opted to poach it in white. And with white, I had to glaze it with a paler jelly - apple came to my rescue.

Apart from that I did make another change. A big one at that. I replaced Julia's pie crust with Dorie Greenspan's (From her book Baking from My Home to Yours) , because I always get perfect results from it. Also who am I kidding, Dorie's recipe is just another versions of Julia's.

So in honour of Julia Child's 100th birthday I present you this fabulous French Pear Tart. Serve it with some sweetened cream or some chocolate sauce.

Oh and Happy Birthday Julia!

 She no tart © Cookaroo

French Pear Tart

From Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Available in India, US and UK.

For the Sweet tart dough

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my home to yours

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

1. Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a bowl and mix it a few times to combine.
2. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and mix with your fingertips till you have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces.  
3. Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time. Once the egg is incorporated, use your hands 
very lightly and sparingly to knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
4. If you want to press the dough into a tart pan, now is the time to do it. (I did that)
If you want to chill the dough and roll it out later (doable, but fussier than pressing), gather the dough into a ball (you might have to use a little more pressure than you used to mix in dry bits, because you do want the ball to be just this side of cohesive), flatten it into a disk, wrap it well and chill it for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.
5. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking at 200 degrees for 30 minutes blind.

 For the almond frangipane 
1/2 cup almonds
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup whole milk
3 tbs butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds until brown (about 10 minutes), then pulverize in a bender, food processor, or with a mortar and pestle.
2. Whisk egg and egg yolk in a large mixing bowl until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until mixture is pale yellow – about 3 minutes. Beat in the flour.
3. Heat milk on the stove over moderate heat until it reaches the boiling point. Beat a small amount of milk into the egg mixture, to temper the eggs. Then pour in the rest of the milk and whisk vigorously.
4. Pour milk mixture into a sauce pan and heat over moderate heat. Stir slowly, until mixture begins to thicken and coagulate into a stiff paste. 
5. Beat vigorously over low heat for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour. Off the heat add the butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and almonds. Let cool. 
6. To prevent a skin from forming, cover custard with buttered parchment paper.

For the poached pears
2 cups white wine
2 tbs lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 6 ripe, firm pears
1/4 cup apple jelly

1. Bring wine, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon to a boil in a saucepan over moderate heat. 
2. Meanwhile, peel, halve, stem and core pears. When syrup is boiling, drop in pears and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, until pears are tender when pierced with a knife. 
3. Let pears cool in syrup for 20 minutes, then drain on a rack.
4. Rapidly boil down the syrup to the thread stage (230 degrees). Add jelly or preserves to the syrup and simmer until jelly has dissolved and syrup coats the back of a spoon with a light glaze.

Assemble tart:
1. Paint the inside of the tart shell with the pear and jelly syrup. 
2. Fill shell with the frangipane, smoothing with a spatula. Cut pears into crosswise or lengthwise slices and arrange them over the custard. 
3. Bake for 30 minutes to 40 minutes at 180 degrees. Remove
4.Lightly glaze pears with some of the remaining jelly using a pastry brush.
5. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Creamed © Cookaroo

I'm sending this to two places.

One to Lavender and Lovage's Tea Time Treats which is being hosted by What Katy Baked

And to Patty from Colour's Dekor's Weekly Story

Sideways © Cookaroo

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  1. I love this. Julia Child went to my college and dropped in for a visit while I was studying there. She was so charming, with a ready smile and seemed so happy to be just one among many alums visiting the place. This was some 12 years ago. Happy birthday Julia!

    1. Thank you Ammu! She's really quite the insipration

  2. Lovely looking tart Ruchira :-)


  3. how do u manage perfection every single time dear, this is just too good


  4. I only came to know about Julia Child when I saw the movie Julia vs Julia and then fell in love with the movie, her and her recipes!

    The tart looks so delicious :)) and Happy Independence Day!!

    1. awww! My mom had a book lying around, that's how I figured it. But yes the movie was awesome!

  5. Thank you so very very much for entering such a terrific tart into TTT!

  6. Hi I'm dropping by via TTT. What a beautiful pear tart. I would love to have a slice.