Red Wine Poached Pear Tart
6 to 8 servings
Use a pear that is firm when ripe, such as Bosc, Conference, Winter Nellis, or Anjou. As mentioned, I used an inexpensive fruity red wine. Merlot, pinot noir, zinfandel, or another wine will be good here. For those who don’t drink wine, there’s no swap out for it in this dessert I’m afraid. You can find a few more details about cooking the pears at how to poach pears. There will be leftover wine syrup after making the tart, which you can use to brush over the tart before serving or drizzled over the tart and ice cream, if you choose to serve it that way. Additional leftover syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks and used to dribble over fresh orange slices with pomegranate seeds, to enliven a fruit salad, or even drizzled over yogurt.
The pears
1 (75cl) bottle fruity red wine
1 cup (250ml) water
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
1/4 cup (80g) honey
3 slices of fresh lemon
1 cinnamon stick
a few turns of black pepper
8 medium-sized pears (about 2 1/2-pounds, 1,25kg)
The dough
3/4 cup (110g) flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons ice water
1. In a large, non-reactive pot, heat the red wine, water, sugar, honey, lemon cinnamon, and black pepper.
2. Meanwhile, peel the pears with a vegetable peeler, slice them in half lengthwise, and use a melon baller or teaspoon to scoop out the cores.
3. When the red wine mixture is nearly boiling, slide the pears into the poaching liquid. Cover the pears with a round of parchment paper with a coin-sized hole cut in the center to let the steam escape. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and poach the pears over low heat for about 15 minutes, or until they are cooked through. To test, poke them with a tip of a paring knife; if it goes in easily, they are done. Do not overcook them.
4. Remove the pears from the pot. Discard the lemon and cinnamon stick. Let the syrup cool until tepid, then pour it over the pears. (If you leave the pears in the syrup while it cools, they may get overcooked.) Cover and refrigerate the pears for 1 to 3 days.
5. To make the dough, mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the cubed butter and cut in with a pastry blender or a fork, until the pieces are the size of very small peas. (You can also make the dough in a food processor or stand mixer with the paddle attachment.) Add 2 tablespoons ice water and mix the dough until it comes together. If necessary, dribble a bit more water in, just until the dough holds together.
6. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic; refrigerate it for at least an hour. (The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.)
7. To make the tart, pour off the red wine syrup into a wide, non-reactive saucepan and reduce the liquid over medium heat, until you have about 3/4 cup (250ml).. Keep an eye on the syrup during the final stages of the reducing; as it gets close, the liquid with foam a bit, which is a sign it’s done – or nearly there. Overcooking it will give it an undesirable caramel taste.
8. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC.) Pour 1/3 cup (80ml) of the reduced syrup into a 9- to 10-inch (about 22cm) glass pie plate, baking dish, or similar sized pan. Arrange the pears in the baking vessel; don’t be reluctant to crowd them in so they overlap – they will bake down as they cook.
9. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough so it is a bit larger than the diameter of the baking dish. Drape the dough over the pears. Tuck the edges of the dough down between the pears and the inside edges of the baking dish.
10. Bake the tart for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the dough is a deep golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes.
11. Turning out the tart will require a bit of pluck. Keep in mind that there is hot, sticky liquid in the bottom of the tart that may spill out. So wear oven mitts and be careful when turning it out.
The safest way to do it is to put an overturned rimmed baking sheet on top of the tart. Grab both sides of the baking sheet and the baked tart, hold them out away from you (not over you), and flip them over simultaneously and quickly, so the liquid doesn’t get a chance to spill out when you flip them. Slide the tart onto a serving platter. If you are very careful, you can turn it out directly onto a rimmed serving plate, taking the previously noted precautions about the hot syrup that may leak out.

Serving: Brush the tart generously with the reserved red wine syrup. The tart is best warm, but can be served at room temperature or reheated in a moderate oven. Good accompaniments are crème fraîche, a spoonful of Greek yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.