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Holiday Hazelnut Pear Tart

By:  Shelley Pogue

How to make Fresh Creme Fraiche:

In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm 1 cup of heavy cream to 110F degrees. You will remove from the heat source and stir in 1 tablespoon of cultured buttermilk. Transfer the cream to a large bowl and allow this mixture to stand in a warm place, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until thickened but still of pouring consistency. Stir and taste every 6 - 8 hours. This process takes anywhere from 24 to 36 hours, depending on your room temperature. The creme fraiche is ready when it is thick with a slightly nutty sour taste. Chill cream, in the refrigerator, for several hours before using. Creme fraiche may be stored in the refrigerator up to 10 days. I prefer to purchase it instead of making it, it is a long process and I just prefer to pick it up and use it the same day.

Hazelnut Pastry Dough

1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup of cold butter
2 tablespoons ice water

Pear Filling:

1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons creme fraiche, you can purchase this at whole foods or central market or your local gourmet grocery store.

If you cannot purchase it I have a recipe for you to make your own listed above. Pinch of salt 3 ripe firm pears 1 (9 1/2-inch) tart shell In a food processor, finely grind the hazelnuts and the sugar. In a medium bowl you will combine the hazelnut mixture, flour and salt. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the water. Mix until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a ball. Chill for 30 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough 1/4-inch thick. Line the tart shell with the dough and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or so until it is set. Preheat the oven to 350F. You are going to parbake your shell, so, you will line the tart shell with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie with beans or rice or anything to keep the pie dough from rising. This helps to keep your pie from having a soggy bottom. You will bake until the edges are a golden color which should take about 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven. You will then remove the wax paper and whatever you used as the weight during the initial cooking process. The you will bake the pie shell for about another 5 to 10 minutes.

Decrease the oven temperature to 325F and make your custard filling.

Custard Filling

In a bowl, whisk together the egg, yolks, and sugar. Add the cream, creme fraiche, and salt. Peel, core and slice the pears 1/8-inch thick. Arrange the pears in a circular pattern in the prebaked tart shell. Pour the custard over the pears until the tart is full. Bake until the custard is almost completely set, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!