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Seasonal Recipes: Winter

Chocolate Pear Tarts

This is such a sweet treat for those very special Holiday occasions.  Everyone is sure to love them!

Chocolate Pear Tartlettes

Serves 12

For the chocolate dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

a pinch of fleur de sel

8 ounces, unsalted butter

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup heavy cream

To make the dough

Whisk the cream and egg yolks together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder,sugar and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces, about a half an inch. Add the butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat the butter with the flour. Using your hands, combine the butter with the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Be careful not to overwork the dough as it will make the dough tough. Continue this process until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the heavy cream and egg yolk mixture and toss gently with a fork, just until it is incorporated. Feel free to use your hands to continue to combine the ingredients. But again, be sure to not overwork the dough. You can tell when the dough is ready by taking a small handful, squeezing it together. It if holds together, the dough is ready. If not, feel free to add a little more cream, a drizzle at a time, to reach the right consistency. When the dough is ready, divide the dough in two and place it on a sheet of plastic wrap. Gather the plastic wrap around the dough, forming a pouch, twist and push down to form a flat disk. Chill the dough for at least an hour or preferably overnight.

For the custard

8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted

3 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/2 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds removed

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a pot of simmering water to melt, being careful that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl, or you will over heat the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, heavy cream, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla beans together until thoroughly mixed. Slowing add the melted chocolate, stirring constantly.

To prepare the tart 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven. 

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and divide it into 12 pieces. sprinkle with a little bit of flour and Roll each piece into a 1/8-inch-thick circle, slightly larger than the tartlette pan, flouring as needed. Gently press the dough into the tartlette pan, being careful not to stretch the dough as this will cause it to shrink when baking. To remove the excess dough, work your way around the edge pinching off the excess dough with your fingers. Chill the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking. 

Line the shell with parchment paper. Fill the lined tart with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 10 minutes, just until the sides have set. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper and dried beans. Return the tart to the oven, and bake until turning as needed to ensure even baking. Set aside on a rack to cool. 

Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Pour a little of the filling into each tartlette shell, being careful not to overfill as the custard will puff when baked. Gently press each pear half to fan the slices but keep the slices tightly overlapped and arrange on the tart. 

Bake tart until the custard is set and a tester inserted into the center of the filling comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool tart in pan. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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