Vanilla Pear Tart with Hazelnut Cream

There are very few desserts that a little vanilla can’t improve.  Often its subtle flavor is lost beneath a slue of other ingredients, but it’s still thrown in for good measure.  For this tart I kept  the ingredient list short, but oh so sweet, so the vanilla flavor would not be lost.  I really love working with vanilla powder or an actual bean rather than vanilla extract, because there is no alcohol flavor to compete with those delicate little black flecks.

As I said, I wanted to keep the ingredients to a minimum, so both the crust and cream are made with hazelnuts.  Nuts are so versatile, it really is incredible.  I adore the combination of dried figs and hazelnuts in this crust.  I could eat it by itself like a giant cookie.  The cream is made of soaked hazelnuts, pear, agave, and vanilla.  Hazelnuts aren’t soft and naturally creamy like cashews, so the cream is not quite as smooth as cashew cream, but I think their flavor makes that tradeoff worth it.   You can substitute if you’d like.

I love figs in any and every form.  Dried, fresh, and especially straight off the fig tree in my yard.  It’s a young tree, so its yield isn’t huge yet; it’s so neat to pick and eat straight from nature.

Apparently squirrels love figs too.  Sometimes I find a fig that is not quite ripe enough to be picked, so I leave it on the branch for one more day.  The next day I often come back to find someone else has already nibbled on a bit of my fig for breakfast.

Vanilla Pear Tart with Hazelnut Cream

Makes a 6″ tart

Crust

3/4 cup hazelnuts

1 cup dried calimyrna figs

  1. Put the hazelnuts in the food processor and process until they are in small pieces.  I like the occasional crunch of a nut, so I don’t want them too fine.
  2. Add the figs, and process until everything sticks together.
  3. Line the bottom of a 6″ springform pan with parchment paper.  Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 3/4 inch up the sides.
  4. Place the crust in the fridge.

Cream

1/2 cup hazelnuts soaked for at least 4 hours

1/2 of a pear (I used a red D’anjou, but any will work)

2 TBSP agave

2 TBSP coconut oil

1 tsp Vanilla Powder

1/4 cup water

  1. Drain and rinse the hazelnuts.
  2. Cut half of the pear into large chunks and save the other half for topping.
  3. Add everything to the blender (liquids first for easiest blending) and blend on high until it is smooth.  This may take a little while to get the right consistency.
  4. Pour the cream into the crust and place it all back in the fridge.

Pears

1/2 of a pear

1 tsp coconut sugar (or agave)

1/2 tsp Vanilla Powder

  1. Thinly slice the remaining pear half.
  2. Lay the slices in a shallow dish with as little overlap as possible.
  3. Sprinkle on the coconut sugar and vanilla.  Stir and flip and shake to coat all sides of all pears evenly.
  4. Place the pears in the fridge for at least an hour.
  5. After the pears have sweetened up and gotten a bit juicy, layer them on top of the cream in a beautiful pattern.  Slice and eat and appreciate the sweet vanilla flavor.

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