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an overhead shot of a pear and gruyere tart with three slices cut out of the bottom right section of it. two halves of a pear are visible in the top right corner and a small bowl of brown sugar in the bottom left. two forks lie next to the tart in the top left.

'pushing daisies' pear & gruyere tart

Rebecca
This Pear & Gruyere Tart tastes like a fruit and cheese plate, all in one bite. It’s not too sweet, not too savory — and is a truly special way to end a meal.
Note: Cook time includes pre-baking tart shell and final bake.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 55 mins
Resting Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 people

Ingredients
  

gruyere tart crust

  • 150 grams all-purpose flour (1¼ cups)
  • 32 grams powdered sugar (¼ cup)
  • tsp salt
  • 113 grams very cold unsalted butter (8 TBSP, 1 stick)
  • ½ cup gruyere cheese (finely grated)
  • 1 egg yolk (large)
  • 1 TBSP ice water (plus more if necessary)
  • cooking spray (for greasing the tart pan)

pear filling

  • 3 pears (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP corn starch
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp whole nutmeg (freshly grated, always!)
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp vanilla (get the good stuff!)
  • 1 TBSP butter (cut into pieces)

Instructions

make the gruyere dough

  • Cut the butter into cubes and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  • In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and gruyere and pulse until it has the texture of cornmeal.
  • Add the egg yolk and pulse to combine. Then, pulse in the ice water. Start with 1 TBSP of water, but you may need to add a little more if necessary (err on the side of less!), just until the dough holds together when you squeeze it in your hand.
  • Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead quickly and gently until it’s combined and smooth. Try to avoid touching it with your hands too much so the butter doesn't melt. 
  • Flatten dough into a disc, wrap in saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 days (or up to 3 months in the freezer).
    If the dough has been in the fridge for longer than an hour, let it sit at room temp for 20 mins before rolling it out.

to pre-bake the crust

  • Preheat oven to 425°F and arrange an oven rack so that it's on the lowest setting. Generously spray a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. Set aside.
  • Lightly flour the dough with your hands and begin pressing it out into a larger disc. Again, try not to handle it too much so your hands don't melt the butter. When it’s not quite the size of the bottom of the tart pan, switch to a rolling pin, rolling it out until it's about ⅛" thick.
  • Gently fold the edges of the tart in, creating a galette-like shape that's slightly smaller than the bottom of the tart pan. Carefully pick the galette up and place it in the center of the tart pan. Then, unfold the edges of the dough so that they're draped over the sides of the pan.
  • Make your way around the tart, carefully lifting the draped edges of the dough with one hand and using the backs of your fingers on the other to press the dough into the bottom corners and sides of the tart pan.
  • Run a rolling pin across the top of the tart pan or use a sharp knife to trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the tart pan. Use the dough scraps to patch any thin spots or cracks in the crust.
  • Use a fork to dock the surface of the pie crust, including the sides, to prevent bubbling. Freeze for at least 20 minutes before baking.
  • Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and press it greased-side down onto the surface of the frozen tart crust to prevent it from getting too dark. Leave enough foil overhang so that you can easily grab it later.
    Sprinkle your pie weights of choice* onto the aluminum foil.
  • Place the tart on a sheet pan and bake it for 12 minutes at 425°F. Then, remove the foil and pie weights, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, and bake an additional 10 minutes. The crust should be a light golden brown color.
    Remove and let cool. Your tart is now ready to be filled.

pear filling & final assembly

  • In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, corn starch, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon.
  • Peel and slice the pears, then dump them into the dry mixture in the large bowl, add the vanilla, and stir and toss to combine.
    You’ll need to stir this mixture slightly longer than you’d expect — the moisture of the pears will begin to dissolve the sugar, creating a sauce-like coating for the pears, rather than a dry rub.
  • Return the oven to 425°F. Layer your pear filling into the pre-baked and cooled tart shell (it’s okay if it’s still a little warm). You can get creative here! Try arranging the pears in concentric circles, or maybe standing upright. I prefer to make sure the slices are all lying flat on their sides but it’s entirely up to you.
  • Pour any of the leftover brown sugar mixture over the top of your prepared tart. Dot cubes of butter across the top of the pie.
  • Place the tart shell, still in its tin, back on the sheet tray (in case of spillage). Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes at 425°F, then lower the temp to 350°F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes (or even up to 30 minutes) or until until pears are crisp and brown on top.
    If your crust seems to be browning too quickly, loosely tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the tart pan when you drop the oven temp.
  • Remove tart from oven, let cool in the pan. When cool, remove the outside piece of the tart tin and serve it up.

Notes

  • If you don't have a food processor, make the tart dough by combining the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then, use your fingertips OR two knives or forks OR a pastry cutter to cut and rub the butter into the flour mixture until it reaches the texture of cornmeal. Work quickly to keep the butter from melting. Then proceed with the recipe as instructed, using a plastic bowl scraper or pastry cutter in place of the food processor.
  • Add the cheese to the dough WITH the butter: When making the dough, you must incorporate the grated cheese at the same time as the butter. If you try to incorporate it after the dough has formed, it won’t incorporate smoothly and will cause your dough to be fragile and break when it bakes.
  • Keep it cool! If your kitchen is warm or your hands run hot, you’ll melt the butter in the pie dough. It’s important to keep it chilled and handle it as little as possible, and to refrigerate or freeze your dough between steps to keep that butter chilled before baking.
  • *Pie weights can be dried rice, beans, or sugar, or you can buy a set of pie weights (more about my preferred pie weights here). Be generous with your weights — 1-2 cups of beans, rice, or sugar will do. You'll still be able to use them later. 
  • Add the vanilla to the pear filling AFTER you add the pears to the dry mixture: If you add the vanilla before pears, the dry mixture will get clumpy and it will be really hard to toss the pear slices in it to get them evenly coated. For this same reason, you should peel, slice, and toss your pears all at once, rather than trying to do them in batches.
  • To make a galette: Roll the chilled dough out into a rough circle ~1/8″ thick and transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dump the pear mixture into the center and fold the edges of the dough up and to hold it all in place. Brush the crust with melted butter and sprinkle some raw/turbinado sugar around the edges before baking to make sure it crisps up. Bake it for 40-45 minutes at 400 degrees.
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