Chocolate, Walnut, and Pear Tart

I recently purchased Molly Wilkinson’s cookbook French Pastry Made Simple which contains beautifully photographed French-inspired desserts which are accompanied with step-by-step instructions making French baking less intimidating to home bakers. I was immediately enraptured by her Chocolate, Walnut, and Pear Tart made with her signature pâté sucrée recipe. This is an incredible pie crust recipe- it tastes like a shortbread cookie and the addition of almond flour creates a unique texture and flavor. The dough is easy to make in either a food processor or a stand mixer and it is also simple to roll out. Molly makes this dough in a stand mixer, but I find it easier to make in a food processor, so I’ve included directions for both techniques. The tart shell is then filled with a rich chocolate and walnut cake batter and topped with pears. The first time I made this tart, I made the mistake of not peeling the pears before adding them to the tart and I lived to regret it. Don’t repeat my mistakes- peel your pears first. You will be rewarded with an almond flour infused tart crust, a rich chocolate cake, and sweet, tender pears. This is a perfect tart to serve alongside a cup of tea!

Chocolate, Walnut, and Pear Tart

Serves: 6-8

Adapted from Molly Wilkinson’s French Pastry Made Simple https://www.mollyjwilk.com/my-cookbook/

Pâté sucrée

Makes 2–9-inch tart shells

Ingredients:

  • 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (14 tablespoons), cold and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract)
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions for Food Processor:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, combine flour, sugar, almond flour, and salt. Add cubed butter and pulse exactly 15 times. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, extract, and water. Add liquid to the food processor and blend until ball of dough comes together. 
  2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. 

Directions for Stand Mixer:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, almond flour, salt, and cold cubed butter. Mix together on low speed until mixture looks like sandy little pebbles, about 5 minutes. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, extract, and water. Add the liquid to the mixer and mix on low speed until a ball of dough forms. 
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. 

Ingredients for Chocolate Pear Tart:

  • ½ recipe pâté sucrée
  • ½ cup walnut pieces that have been ground in a food processor
  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Bartlett pears, peeled and sliced horizontally

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt, and finely ground walnuts. Stir in the egg and mix until combined. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix to combine. 
  3. Roll out the pâté sucrée between two sheets of plastic wrap to an approximately 9-inch circle. Place in a tart pan and prick the dough with a fork. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly on the bottom of the tart dough. 
  4. Arrange the pears decoratively on top of the chocolate mixture. Place the tart pan on a sheet pan. Place tart into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the chocolate mixture to test for doneness. Allow tart to cool for 30 minutes before slicing. Tart can be dusted with powdered sugar, if desired. Then, all you have to do is enjoy your very fancy French Chocolate Pear Tart!

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