Full of rustic and earthy flavors, this easy pear and chestnut tart prepared with a homemade hazelnut crust is your soon-to-be favorite fall dessert.
When the chilly days of fall are showing up, we start changing our food habits little by little as we are naturally craving for more comforting recipes prepared with seasonal ingredients. Your summer fruits might be behind you now, but there are some amazing others coming up. Among other fruits, it’s the full season of apples and pears, that can be consumed either raw or prepared in sweet or savory dishes.
Let’s eat dessert first and use these lovely pears in a tart today. For this specific recipe, I used green Anjou pears. Because the chestnut spread is already sweetened, a pear variety that is not too sweet and/or not ripe yet will work perfectly, but any variety of your choice would work anyway, so just go for your favorite one.
I paired here pears with chestnuts, or to be more exact with chestnut spread, that together bring some earthy and rustic fall flavors to the pie. Chestnut spread is a classic in France but not always easy to find overseas. In the US in particular, I always find it very difficult to find in grocery stores. You can find some around the holidays in gourmet stores, often at a very high price though. Luckily I found mine on Amazon in a set of 3 at a very reasonable price.
Chestnut spread is basically made of smashed chestnuts and sugar before being stored in a can or alternatively in a glass jar. Extremely sweet, it has a thick and generous texture close to pumpkin butter or apple butter. There are many ways to use it, from a simple spread on a slice of bread or brioche, in a plain yogurt, or in all sorts of desserts, and in particular with chocolate or with pears that are to me the two best ingredients to pair with chestnut spread.
Here we simply combine the chestnut spread with a little bit of whipping cream and rum in order to give a creamier texture with a little kick. If you do not want alcohol in your dessert, you can skip the rum and if you want replace with vanilla extract (note that certain chestnut spreads already contain vanilla and in that case you won’t need to add any). As the chestnut spread is already sweetened there is no need to add any kind of sugar to the recipe.
Now this generous filling of chestnuts and pears appears on top of a hazelnut crust. It might seem a little bit advanced but it really isn’t. With no effort, you get a smooth pie crust that works every single time. All you will need is grind the hazelnuts in your food processor until a thin sandy texture. Add to it some all-purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, softened butter, salt and just a little bit of water until the dough forms a firm and smooth ball.
My recommendation for best results is to prepare the pie crust the day before, then wrap it up in cling film, flattening it a little bit so you get a roughly flattened disk. Once the dough has chilled, roll it out in a large disk, about 10-11-inch (27-28 cm) in diameter, and carefully line a tart pan with the crust. Pre-bake the crust for about 10-12 minutes, not more, then fill it with the chestnut cream, the pears, and place back in the oven until the chestnut cream is set. If needed, cover with foil during baking to make sure the sides of the crust do not burn. Add extra crushed hazelnuts on top and let cool completely before serving. Enjoy as is or with vanilla ice cream.
- ⅔ cup (120g) whole hazelnuts
- 1 ⅓ (160g) cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100g) confectioners' sugar
- ½ cup (120g) butter, softened at room temperature and diced
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 large pears, thinly sliced
- 400g chestnut spread
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) rum
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tablespoon hazelnuts, crushed (optional)
- For the hazelnut pastry dough: start with grinding the whole hazelnuts in a food processor until you get a sandy texture. Transfer to a a large bowl and mix together with all-purpose flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt. Add the softened butter, diced, and mix well until crumbly. Add a little bit of water, just enough to help the dough shape into a firm dough. Wrap the dough in a large cling film and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease a tart pan.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, roll into a large 10-11 inch (27-28 cm) disk, and carefully transfer to the tart pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, not more.
- In a medium bowl, mix the chestnut spread with rum and heavy whipping cream, then spread on the bottom of the tart pan. Display the pears on top and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 20 minutes or until the chestnut spread start bubbling.
- Allow to cool completely and sprinkle some crushed hazelnuts on top.