Recipe courtesy of Renee Fiocchi, The Dayton Street Grille
Yields one 9-inch tart
For the crust:
12 oz Pastry Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
4 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 to 6 dessert pears (Anjou or Bartlett) ripe, but still firm
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Seeds of 1/2 a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
To make the crust: Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl. Rub the butter cubes into the flour until the mixture resembles small peas. Make a well in the center.
In a separate bowl, combine 2 eggs, water and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the well in the flour. Mix to form a soft dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead gently just until it is smooth and well mixed.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll dough into a 10-inch circle 1/8-inch thick and transfer to fit in a 9-inch fluted tart pan. Trim off any extra dough that will hang over the side. Chill the tart in cooler or freezer until firm.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line chilled tart shell with parchment or wax paper. Fill with dried beans and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove paper and beans and return tart to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more, until light golden brown.
To make the filling: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scatter the chopped chocolate over the bottom of the partially baked tart shell. Peel, halve and core the pears. Slice the pears vertically, keeping the shape intact. Slightly fan the pear and transfer to the tart shell, with narrow end facing the center. Repeat with the other halves until the tart shell is full. (Any open spaces will be covered with custard.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla. In a saucepan, heat cream until just at a boil. Temper the egg mixture by pouring a little hot cream into the egg mixture while stirring vigorously. After the egg is fully incorporated into the cream, slowly add the rest of the cream to the eggs while stirring constantly. Pour the custard over the pears, until it the tart is full. (Be careful not to overfill; there might be custard left over.)
Set the tart on a baking pan in the center of the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking until the custard is just set in the center, about 40 to 50 minutes more. Allow the tart to cool.
To finish the tart:
1. In a saucepan heat 1/2 cup apricot jelly with 1 tablespoon water until it becomes liquid. Brush jelly over the top of tart to give it shine.
2. Sprinkle a thick layer of granulated sugar over the surface of the tart. Use a blow torch to slowly caramelize the sugar.