How To Make: Dominique Ansel’s poached pear & salted pecan caramel tart  

Creator of the world-famous Cronut, Chef Dominique Ansel was awarded World’s Best Pastry Chef by 50 Best in Melbourne this year, has launched a second location in Tokyo and is about to open his first ever full-service restaurant in LA. Celebrating the first year anniversary of Dominique Ansel Bakery London last weekend, the chef has also shared a recipe for his poached pear and salted pecan caramel tart. Granted, the recipe is time consuming and requires a deft touch, but the proof is (quite literally) in the pudding.

Ingredients

Makes six individual tarts

For the salted pecan caramel

Granulated sugar, 190g

Heavy cream, 643g

Corn syrup, 71g

Dark brown sugar, 95g

Chopped pecans, 300g

Fleur de sel, 3g

For the poached pears

Williams pears, 6, peeled (left whole)

Lemon, juice of 1

Peeled zest of 1 lemon

Sugar, 2 cups

Water, 6 cups

Vanilla bean, 1, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

For the honey vanilla whipped ganache

Tahitian vanilla beans, 2, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

Heavy cream, 679g

White chocolate, 123g

Honey, 145g

Powdered gelatin, 9g (fish-based)

Water, 45g

For the vanilla sablé tart shells

Special tools needed: Six 3-inch (7.5cm) tart rings

Unsalted butter, 127g, softened

Confectioners’ sugar, 81g

Tahitian vanilla bean, 1, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

Egg, 1, large

All-purpose flour, 165g, plus more as needed for dusting

Cornstarch, 47g

Almond flour, 30g

Kosher salt, 1g

To make the salted pecan caramel

Combine the cream, corn syrup, and dark brown sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place a deep heavy bottomed pot over high heat. When the pot it hot, sprinkle a thin, even layer of the granulated sugar into the pot. As the sugar melts and caramelises, slowly whisk in the rest of the sugar, one small handful at a time, until all the sugar has been added. (TIP: This method of cooking sugar is called a “dry caramel” because it starts with a dry pan and no water. When caramel starts with water, it is called a “wet caramel.” I prefer the dry version because it allows you more control over the caramelisation.

When all of the sugar has caramelised and turned deep amber, turn off the heat. Slowly stream in one-third of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Be careful! The cream might cause the caramel to splatter. When incorporated, whisk in the next third, and then the last.

Return the caramel to the heat and bring it to a rolling boil on high until it reaches 109°C.  Remove from the heat. Let cool to 75°C. Then emulsify with an immersion blender until smooth.

Fold in the pecans and fleur de sel while caramel is still warm, until combined. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

To poach the pears

Core the pears by using a melon baller or paring knife and removing the core from the bottom of the pear.

Combine sugar, water, vanilla, peeled lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium pot and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn down the heat to medium.

Add pears. Simmer, gently stirring every few minutes, until the pears are fork tender (between 10-15 minutes). Remove from the heat and let cool

Slice the pears lengthwise, remove core, and cut into slices. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

To make the honey vanilla whipped ganache

Combine vanilla beans, cream and honey in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat while gently stirring.

When the cream reaches a boil, immediately remove the pot from the heat. Remove the vanilla pods.

Combine gelatine and water in bowl. Stir until dissolved.

Place the white chocolate chips and the gelatine mixture in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chips. Let stand for 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the ganache, to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the fridge overnight (at least 6-8 hours).

When fully chilled, transfer the ganache to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a piping bag.

To make the vanilla sablé tart shells

Cream the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla bean seeds for 30 seconds on medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the egg, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and mix on medium speed until smooth.

Combine the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, almond flour, and salt in a medium bowl. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the flour until just combined, about 10 seconds more.

Liberally flour the work surface and a rolling pin. Transfer the dough to the work surface and roll it out into a rectangle about ¼ inch (6mm) thick. Place on a sheet pan and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Using a tart ring as a guide, cut 6 circles 1 inch (2.5cm) wider than the outside of the ring, so that the dough rounds will be big enough to come up the sides of the rings.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the tart rings evenly spaced on the pan. Place a dough round on top of each ring. Push down gently with your fingers and press the dough along the inside of the ring. Using a paring knife to trim excess dough handing over the edge of the ring. Return to the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.

While the tart shells are chilling, place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°) for conventional or 325°F (160°C) for convection.

Bake the tart shells on the centre rack for 8 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for 8 minutes more or until the tart shells are golden brown.

Unmold the tart shells while still warm. Let cool completely at room temperature.

To assemble the tart

Spread a layer of the salted pecan caramel into the base of each cooled tart shell.

Pipe in the vanilla ganache and level off the surface until smooth.

Arrange the sliced pears on top in your desired pattern, then enjoy!

Further information on Dominique Ansel Bakery London can be found here.

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