You do not have to be a master of pastry to create this stunning and tasty dessert.
I am always so excited when I find seckel pears at my local farmers market because A- they are tiny and adorable, and B- nothing compares to how juicy, crisp, and sweet they are. They stay relatively firm, which makes them a great baking fruit, and who doesn’t like mini things? Seckel pears are the only pear native to North America that are grown commericially, and they originated from a wild pear tree from Pennsylvania – woop, go PA! They are generally harvested between September and February, so they are the perfect way to incorporate winter produce into your sweets.
I don’t know about you guys, but I buy soooo much produce all year long, because we buy from a local produce market that only sells in bulk. “You want an orange? Here, have 12,” is kind of their motto. I’m a fan of bringing home literal tiny mountains of fruits and veggies, but it does force me to get creative to avoid food waste. When one has about 20 tiny pears, clearly one makes a tart. Check out my other recipes for pears here if you find yourself in possession of few too many.
To make this recipe, first you’ll need to whip up a shortcrust pastry to serve as the bottom. This crust is crumbly, flaky, and maybe a little addicting. I use it for both sweet and savory tarts that can serve as both dessert or dinner items, and it gets rave reviews each time.
The recipe for the shortcrust is:
2 cups flour
1.5 cups chilled vegan butter
2-4 tbsp ice water
That’s it. Super easy. I make mine in my food processor, which I recommend because the warmth of your hands can melt the butter just enough to turn the whole thing into a big greasy mess. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way. Mix the flour and butter until the dough is crumbly. You can also add in herbs, a pinch of salt, or a dash of sugar here if you’d like to tweak the recipe a little bit. Try your best not to overwork this dough, though it can be quite tempting. After you’ve created a crumb like consistency, add in tablespoons of icy cold water to bind the whole thing together. Start with 2 tablespoons and give it another 15 seconds of pulsing in your machine. If it’s still very crummy, add another 1-2 tablespoons until it looks more bound (it will still be considered crumbly at this stage, and you will mold it with your hands or rolling pin later).
When the dough is done, remove it from the food processor and store in the fridge in an airtight container for at least an hour before using. Longer doesn’t hurt either; you can leave the dough in the fridge overnight, or even in the freezer for a few days until you’re ready to use it. This is important so that the flour doesn’t absorb the butter and you wind up with a big greasy pear tart. Sometimes I make a double batch of this dough with the intention of putting half into the freezer for a totally different creation down the road. After at least an hour has passed, bring the dough out, mold with your hands as quickly as possible into a ball, and then roll out using a rolling pin.
You can work on the pear portion of this tart while your dough is chilling. If not, plop your rolled out dough back into the refrigerator while you get the filling and pears ready. The filling is a creamy gooeyness that is both sweet and tart, and oh so dreamy.
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons nondairy milk
Pulse this mixture together in your food processor and spoon onto your dough, leaving a little for the outer crust as you would with a pizza dough. Cut your pears into even slices and lay atop your filling. You can sprinkle extra sugar here if you’d like. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until you start to see the edges turning brown.