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Red Wine and Pear Brioche Tart

July 10, 2012

Last week we celebrated my (work) partner’s birthday, and this was the experimental dessert I foisted on everyone! I had been browsing my Bon Appetit Desserts cookbook earlier in the week and this recipe caught my eye because my partner loves red wine (specifically Devonian Red from the Anthony Road winery on Seneca Lake). But I was still undecided, so I brought in the cookbook for him to look through. Without knowing I had already considered making this tart, he zeroed in on this exact recipe! I apparently know his taste in desserts better than I thought I did! :)

If you’re not familiar with brioche, it’s a rich yeast bread made with eggs and butter. It has the perfect texture for this recipe – slightly bready because of the yeast but still tender because it’s not kneaded extensively in this case.

The pears and sauce I made the night before as they can sit out at room temperature for up to a day, then I made the dough early in the morning (I started it rising and went back to bed, haha!). It would definitely be easier to make the whole thing in an afternoon for an evening party, though. It turned out super-delicious: not overly sweet and full of pear and wine flavor. The crème fraîche, with its subtle tanginess (similar to sour cream but not quite as sour), is a perfect accompaniment.

And yes, I did use Devonian Red. :)

Red wine and pear brioche tart

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

Brioche Crust

  • 1½  cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3  tablespoons sugar
  • 2  teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3/4  teaspoon salt
  • 6  tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2  large eggs
  • 2  tablespoons whole milk

Filling and Sauce

  • 1¾  cups dry red wine
  • 3/4  cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1¼  pounds firm but ripe Bosc pears (about 3 medium), peeled, quartered, cored, each quarter cut into 3 wedges
  • 1  teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1  teaspoon water
  • Crème fraîche for accompaniment

Directions

  1. For the crust: Butter a 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2¾-inch-high sides. Blend flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse until butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Add eggs and milk. Pulse until sticky dough forms. Using greased fingertips, press dough onto bottom of prepared springform pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until light and puffy, about 2 hours (dough will not double in size).
  2. For the filling and sauce: Meanwhile, stir wine and 3/4 cup sugar in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pears are tender, about 8 minutes. Cool mixture 30 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to plate. Boil wine syrup in pan until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch and 1 teaspoon water in small bowl; stir into wine syrup. Cook until syrup thickens and boils, whisking occasionally, about 2 minutes longer. Set sauce aside.
  4. Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Starting at edge and leaving ½-inch plain border, arrange pear slices close together in concentric circles atop dough. Sprinkle pears and dough edge with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
  5. Bake tart until edge is brown, pears are tender, and crust is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack and remove pan sides. Cool at least 15 minutes. Cut tart into wedges; place on plates. Drizzle with sauce. Spoon dollops of crème fraîche alongside and serve.

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