Then inspiration strikes. Weary of low-profile, she lets the pears pose whole. The tart shifts from 2-D to 3, like something Louise Nevelson might have fabricated for dessert.
Her tart has width, length, depth — and deliciousness. Which could count as four dimensions.
Poached pear tart
Prep: 2 hours, plus time to chill
Bake: 50 minutes
Makes: One 8-by-11-inch tart, serves 8
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup sugar
Seeds and pod of 1 vanilla bean
Zest peeled in wide strips from 1 lemon
3 ripe pears, peeled
3 tablespoons apricot jam
Tart pastry (recipe follows)
Tart filling (recipe follows)
Poach: In a pot, stir together wine, sugar, vanilla seeds and pod, and zest. Lower in pears. Pour in water just to cover. Simmer until tender, about 30 minutes.
Chill: Let pears cool in their poaching liquid. Cover and chill, 2 to 24 hours.
Glaze: Pull out pears; pat dry. Slice each in half the long way. Scoop out seeds and core. Melt jam. Brush the rounded sides of pear halves with jam.
Shape: Roll out pastry, fit into an 11-by-8-inch rectangular tart pan; trim. Freeze while shaping remaining pastry into a few leaves and twigs.
Bake: Set tart shell, leaves and twigs on a baking sheet. Line shell with foil; fill with baking beans. Bake on the center rack at 375 degrees, about 5 minutes for twigs, 10 minutes for leaves and 25 minutes for the tart. Remove foil and beans; bake the shell just golden, 5-7 minutes.
Fill: Cool shell a few minutes. Spread with filling. Bake at 375 degrees until filling is set, puffed and lightly colored, about 20 minutes. Arrange 5 or 6 pear halves on tart. Decorate with leaves and twigs. Cool on a rack. Remove pan sides. Admire. Serve.
Pastry: In food processor, buzz together 1 1/4 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drop in 9 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut up). Process to rubble, about 10 seconds. Drop in 4 or 5 tablespoons ice-cold water. Pulse to damp clumps. Pat pastry into a square. Wrap in waxed paper; chill 1 hour or more.
Filling: In food processor, buzz together: 1 1/2 cups almond flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (cut up), 2 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and a pinch of salt.
©2017 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.