Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Caramelized pear and crisp almond crust tart

I like this tart. Long impressive name and it lived up to it as well. But somewhere down on the ingredient list calls for 8 egg whites. And I knew what that meant during the practical. Whisking egg whites... again.

The thing is, when you depend on a mixer most of your life to do the dirty work, whisking egg whites to a stiff peak by hand is murder. Repeat. Murder. So this was probably the second time I was whisking egg whites by hand, ever! But hey practice makes perfect. You start to learn things after going through the hard part. I found out that:
  • few day old egg whites are easier and faster to whisk. So keep those egg whites after you made that fondant
  • my left arm was actually capable of helping me
  • when you're near death, at least move the whisk side to side to mix it continuously
  • a chef massaging your shoulders actually helps only if he does it to the whole class lol
So after training dear left arm and doing some breathing exercises, that dream of a kitchen aid is far behind me. It's nice not to need technology sometimes. Feels like an accomplishment of some sort.

So back to the tart. Let's do an analysis shall we? The base is made of sweet pastry dough with a filling made out of chopped canned pears, raisins, blackcurrants, heavenly smelling pear brandy, butter and sugar. On top of that is the crisp almond crust which is sort of a almond meringue then sprinkled with sliced almonds and powdered sugar.

Chef stressed that the egg whites need to be perfectly whisked to a peak and folding in the ground almonds has to be done as gently as possible. Otherwise you won't get the markings of the star tip.

We also learnt how to make honey filled barquettes which tasted alot like the pecan pie from Alexis, KL. And I'm having some of the pie now! Hopefully i can recreate a pecan pie recipe from the barquettes. They taste like nut brittle. Like the ones from Jakes, Damansara Heights after a good steak meal.

My tart turned out okay i suppose. The markings weren't very clear probably because I was rushing to finish to catch up with the class. My tart:

The best looking tart was made by the slowest person. And I was happily taking pictures while she whisked her egg whites. Lesson learnt.

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