Pear and Chestnut Tart
A little while ago we got the call, same as every year.
Pears that is.
My sister-in-law Franziska works for Distillery Studer in Escholzmatt. They are famous for their fruit brandies, among them Poire Williams, a delicious pear brandy made from Williams (Bartlett in North America) pears.
It's usually during the last heady days of summer when the pear harvest comes in. The workers at the distillery have to put in some serious overtime to process the fruit while it is still of optimal quality.
And we reap the juicy, juicy rewards—Franziska brings us some of the surplus, and we feast.
Faugier Chestnut Spread
As for the chestnut, I had a couple of these little tins of Faugier chestnut spread that were begging to be tarted up. First made in France by confectioner Clément Faugier in 1885, the recipe for Crème de Marrons de l’Ardèche hasn't changed in over a century. They are great to have around as a breakfast spread or ice cream topping, or tart filling, like here.
Their website extols their ease of transport—just pop a little tin in your bag!—and I like to picture French school children elegantly scooping out the innards with a breadstick, while remembering my own school days and the tins of chalky, flavourless, "chocolate" pudding we would eat for lunch.
You can buy Faugier chestnut spread (or something similar) at Migros, Coop or Globus, all over France, specialty stores, online, or in the UK at Waitrose.
That tart itself is super easy to make, and even faster if you use store-bought tart dough. It can easily be adjusted to the size of your form, just add more spread and pears as needed.
120 g flour
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
zest of half a lemon
60 g butter
40 ml water
200 g (2 cans) of chestnut puree spread
4 tbsp ground almonds or hazelnuts
2-3 pears, thinly sliced
For the dough:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and zest.
Add the cold butter in pieces and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers until you have small flakes.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the water. Mix this gently until a dough forms. Wrap it up as soon as the dough comes together, trying not to overwork the dough, as it can become tough.
Shape the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic, and let cool in the fridge for at least an hour.
When you are ready to roll:
Preheat your oven to 200 C / 400 F / gas mark 6.
Roll out your dough and line a rectangular tart pan. Poke the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, then spread with the chestnut puree.
Sprinkle with ground nuts, the arrange the pears in a pleasing pattern.
Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the filling and the pears start to bubble.
- The Faugier chestnut spread is sweetened, but you could also use an unsweetened chestnut puree and simply add sugar to your liking.