Tarte bourdaloue, created by the french pâtissier Coquelin in la Pâtisserie Bourdaloue, which he bought in 1909 (still open in Paris in the street after which it was named) is probably one of the most beautiful tarts of all times! The moment I saw it, I fell in love with it and wanted to give it a try!To my surprise, it is not just about the looks, this tart is delicious too! A buttery toasted “pâte sucrée” (although some recipes suggest just pâte brisée, unsweetened pastry, I prefer the sweeter version) with a moist cooked almond cream center blended in between vanilla poached pears. Definately a must try, if you haven’t yet tasted this delicacy!
After a few tries, I have found that the texture and amount of the frangipane (almond cream) is one of the key point to get a nice star shape design. Also, a blind baking of the tart base, to ensure it is toasted to perfection after the filling is added! So, beware of recipes that do not precook the pastry, since as far as I’ve tried it doesn’t come out just right!
Anyway, here I introduce you a variation: raspberry chocolate version. I read on chef Eddy Van Damme’s excellent pastry blog a cassis poached pear version of this tart, though with the plain tart base and almond cream. I still had some frozen raspberries, so I wanted to try if the pears would take up their flavour…which I thought would match beautifully with chocolate! So, this version uses a chocolate pastry base and a cocoa almond cream. I was impressed with the results! The raspberry syrup poached pears not only do they look amazing, but they taste like raspberries! Next time I’ll make a full tart version!
Hope you let me know if you try them!
(for a 22cm in diameter round mould)
For the poached pears:
3 pears (here in Spain: conference or “Blanquilla” are good)For the pâte sucrée:
800g of water
400g of sugar
juice of half a lemon
rind of half a lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
150g flourFor the frangipane/almond cream:
pinch of salt
about 30g iced water (I never measure it)
75g icing sugarIf possible poach the pears one day ahead, to allow them to cool down and work with them more comfortably. Also, if possible prefer riper pears (not overipe) over green ones, as they poach in less time and take up the flavours better.
75g butter, room temperature
80g almond powder
1 large egg, room temperature
10ml of brandy
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
Simply boil the water, the aromatics and the sugar to dissolve, peel and cut the pears in half and add to the boiling liquid. Poach until fork tender, 30-40 minutes, depending mainly on how ripe they were. Leave to cool in the poaching syrup.
Prepare the pâte sucrée, I am always inclined to use the “sablage” method rather than the “creaming” method, but you can do either to your preference. For the sablage, in a bowl mix the flour with the butter cut up in small dices and mix in completely until it resembles breadcrumbs (you can put it all together in a food processor to make life easier…or quicker!)
Then, add the sugar and pinch of salt and add the iced water little by little to get a rough dough that barely comes together. Dump all into a work surface and without kneading bring the dough together. There’s a technique called “fraisage”, which is a means of mixing the dough to make it homogeneous without developing the gluten in the flour. This is done by smearing it on a working surface, a small piece at a time, using the heel of your palm. This surrounds the butter around the flour and ensures that you don't overwork the dough, keeping the resulting dough tender and not elastic. I found this video of pastry chef Joanne Chang a fairly good explanation of how it’s done, though she does it for a flaky pastry in order to layer the butter (watch starting minute 3:17, before it’s a bit of her pastry shop/cafeteria advertising :) ). If still in doubt, check this video (in french) out (minute 1:10).
Once it all comes together, shape into a flattened disc, so it cools sooner and it is easier to stretch later. Rest wrapped in film or a ziplock bag in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (if longer, better, you could do this the day before, as well).
As for the almond cream, beat the room temperature butter with the powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and the vanilla seeds. Add the beaten, room temperature eggs slowly or it will split! (adding cold liquids to a solid fat, such as butter, is not a good idea! )Then, add the bit of liqueur and the powdered almond. Last, add the sifted flour. If you have one, place into a pastry bag, as it’s better to distribute it over the pastry.
Time to put it all together, like I said, some people stretch the dough to line the mould, add the almond cream, the pears and off it goes into the oven, but if you can take the extra minutes to blind bake the dough, the result will be significantly better.
So, stretch the dough to about 3mm thickness and line the greased tart mould. With a bit of the extra dough that overhangs the sides, press into the sides of the base well. Prick the base and rest it in the fridge for about 30 minutes or longer (this extra rest is to ensure it won’t shrink as it bakes after stretching).
Cut off the overhanging dough with a knife or rolling a rolling pin (and in that case, press in a bit to lift up the thickened top and prick holes around the whole base
Cover the tart with a large enough piece of parchment wrinkled up and top with ceramic pie weights or some legume (chickpeas or larger beans work well!).
Place in a 175ºC preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the sides begin to colour. Remove, turn the oven up to 180ºC and lift up the paper with the beans and leave to cool for a few minutes so you don’t get burned as you work on it piping the cream, which would also quickly melt in.
Pipe the almond cream, if you are using a piping bag in a circular motion, starting from the center, spreading out. If you don’t have a piping bag, simple smear a 1 cm layer of cream through the base as consistently in thickness as possible.
Strain the pears, and remove the tips and hard bits surrounding the seeds and cut along it’s width in fine slices.
Arrange over the almond cream in a star pattern (if you make a larger tart, simply arrange more pear halves). I like to add some sliced almonds around too, but that’s optional.
Place back into the oven for 30-40 minutes (if will depend on how thick your frangipane layer is and on your oven too).
And there it is, the beautiful tarte bourdaloue, simple sprinkle some icing sugar around the sides or over the frangipane. Some people like to give it shine with some gelatin base or with lightly warmed apricot jam, adding a bit of water. But I prefer it this way.
Here’s the cut:
As for the choco raspberry version, simply add some raspberries to the poaching syrup (I added about 75g to 250g of water) and cook together. Leave to cool in that liquid overnight so the colour intensifies…and so does the flavour!
Remove hard bits and cut.
Prepare a chocolate sugar dough, just substituting some of the flour for cocoa (about 20g or more to taste) and do the same for the almond cream, I just added cocoa to taste, instead of the flour.
Put together the same way, by blind baking the dough, piping the cream and placing the pear on top. I dind’t have pastry rings, so I used a plating one…much, much higher (horrible to work with!) of 9cm in diameter.
Bake for 20-30 minutes and ready to enjoy!
And here’s the cut from the choco raspberry version:
Choose one, but I suggest you do try them, you won’t regret it!!It’s worth the work!
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