This was a disaster. No. The tart would not have been a disaster had I tied my shoes. I was getting dressed to meet some friends when I my timer rang. I ran downstairs, not bothering to tie my shoelaces. I yanked open the oven, pulled the tart out, and started toward the counter. As soon as I took my first step away from the oven, I noticed something was wrong. I couldn't walk.
I struggled. I tipped forward, the pie sliding gracefully off of the baking sheet like an olympic ice skater. There was nothing I could do. It was over for my poor little tart. I saw it suspended in the air, looking at me sadly. Why were you not more careful? the tart seemed to ask. With a deafening crash, the tart hit the ground, turned over, and splattered most of its contents all over my kitchen floor. I wanted to cry.
I called my brother Beau down to see "how beautiful the tart was"; he walked into the room and burst out laughing. Apparently my misfortunes are hilarious. He did taste the tart, off of the floor may I add, and declared it to be delicious. He also ate a piece of the crust, which was mostly undamaged, and sung its praises. I deeply regret my clumsiness, as this could have been one incredible dessert.
Early this morning, I made my way down to my kitchen dressed in the striped onesie I received for Christmas. I sleepily pulled butter and eggs from my fridge and flour, sugar, and other ingredients from my pantry. I set everything up on the counter, ready to create something special.
In between Lady Gaga songs and strange German music videos, I arranged the slices of pear in concentric circles inside of the tart shell. I carefully poured the custard over top of the pears and put the tart pan back onto the baking sheet. Once again, I popped the tart into the oven to bake for another thirty minutes. And after that? Well you know what happened.
This tart could have been a real winner. The custard filling had a quietness and subtlety about it. I most definitely will attempt it again, although perhaps when I am wearing laceless shoes, or no shoes at all. I wish, for your sake, that I had more attractive pictures to show; I am not too disappointed because failure is a part of the process and is a good experience to have. Has anyone else had any cooking mishaps?
Pear, Rum, and Pecan Tart
Adapted from Room for Dessert
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
10 tablespoons butter
2 medium pears, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 pre-baked 9-inch tart shell
Whisk together eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla, and rum. Cut butter into large chunks. Melt it slowly over low heat in a large saucepan. When the butter has darkened to the color of maple syrup and smells toasty, remove it from the heat. Quickly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to keep it from cooking the eggs. Stir in pecans. Refrigerate custard until chilled and thickened, about 1 hour. Place pears in a mixing bowl with brown sugar and 1 tablespoon dark rum. Macerate for 15 minutes, tossing frequently to coat slices. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange pear slices concentrically in pre-baked tart shell. Pour brown butter custard over pears. Fill tart to the rim, but do not overfill. Set unbaked tart of baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes, until browned. Cool completely before serving.