With a cocoa almond crust, vanilla crème fraîche custard, and mulled wine poached pears, this gluten-free pear custard tart makes a showstopping holiday dessert. Thanks to Bi-Rite Market for sponsoring this post!
I’m a total sucker for specialty grocery stores, and I’ve been a fan of San Francisco’s legendary Bi-Rite market since I moved here in 2004. At the original location on 18th street, Bi-Rite packs an enormous selection of goodies into their tiny 2,000-square-foot space: uncommon seasonal produce, local cheeses, exquisite chocolates, and sweet treats from their creamery across the street. I always find new-to-me local, artisanal, organic treats to try, making it well worth the effort of navigating narrow aisles and joining my fellow SF foodies in line.
While Bi-Rite is a destination spot, it’s also a true neighborhood establishment where you can pick up essentials for a dinner party or your next baking project. In fact, much of the obscure produce featured in Alternative Baker came from Bi-Rite – quince, bergamots, rhubarb, figs, heirloom apples, tiny ripe strawberries, and the sweetest pomegranates. There you get the variety and quality of a farmer’s market and the convenience of an old-school grocer. There’s an excellent selection of flours, sweeteners, spices, dairy, as well as fun products like chestnut puree for making this cake or the addictive chocolate bark that inspired this recipe.
Gluten Free Cocoa Almond Crust
This gluten free pear custard tart starts with Bi-Rite almonds ground powder-fine and mixed with gluten free flour, cocoa powder, butter, and sugar to form a press-in crust that tastes like your favorite childhood sandwich cookies. A food processor makes quick work of grinding the almonds, then incorporating the butter until the dough clumps together like damp soil. Just press the crumbs into a lightly oiled pan, freeze, then bake – no rolling or pie weights needed.
The base recipe for this almond cocoa crust comes from my book Alternative Baker. It’s a versatile recipe that I’ve used for cheesecakes and pudding pies as well as the chocolate pecan cranberry tart from Alternative Baker – a reader favorite around the holidays! Here I trade blanched almonds for the almond flour I usually use and subbed in Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free AP flour in place of sweet rice flour. You can of course grab all of these ingredients at Bi-Rite!
Mulled Wine Poached Pears
The par-baked cocoa almond crust gets filled with a simple custard flavored with crème fraîche and vanilla. Into the crust go pears poached in Bi-Rite’s Côtes du Rhône flavored with mulling spices and orange peel.
I had my pick of 6 (!) different pear varieties including Bosc, Bartlett, Seckle, and some beautiful red pears, all from local farms. Poaching the pears in red wine turns them a brilliant burgundy and infuses them with holiday cheer. Thinly sliced and nestled in creme fraiche custard and a cocoa almond crust, they bake into succulent slivers of spiced pear love.
Gluten Free Pear Custard Tart For Everyone
A bite of crumbly, deeply chocolate crust gives way to cool custard and warmly spiced fruit. Sweetness is offset by bitter cocoa, earthy wine, and bright spices. This tart is a boon for dinner parties and potlucks since it can be made earlier in the day, and each component can be made a day or two in advance to ease day-of prep.
Simmer the pear poaching liquid down to a thickened sauce and it’s just the thing for drizzling over slices of tart, pouring over ice cream, or shaking into a bourbon cocktail (see the bonus recipe, below!)
If you’re in SF, I highly recommend heading to Bi-Rite for all your holiday baking needs. From exceptional farm-direct produce to locally produced chocolate, the best ingredients make the most delicious baked goods.
Looking for more gluten free tarts? Check out this round up of 16 holiday-ready gluten free pies, tarts and galettes!
*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this Gluten-Free Pear Custard Tart + Mulled Wine Poached Pears, I’d love to see. Tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
- 3 cups (710 ml) Bi-Rite Cotes du Rhone or other dry red wine
- 2 cups (475 ml) water
- ¾ cup (150 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 1 whole vanilla pod
- A few strips orange or tangerine zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 whole allspice berries
- 4 medium, firm-ripe pears (such as Bartlett or Bosc), peeled, halved, cored
- Put the wine, water, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a dutch oven or saute pan with high sides. Bring to a boil. Add the pears and simmer until just tender but still holding a shape, 10-20 minutes (longer if pairs are not very ripe), turning the pears over halfway through. Remove from the heat and let sit until ready to use, or cover and chill for up to several days. The pears will continue to pick up color and flavor from the wine.
- Remove the pears to a plate and strain the poaching liquid to remove and discard the spices. Simmer the poaching liquid until thick and syrupy, 15-25 minutes. You should have about 1 cup of liquid. When ready to bake, remove the stems and blossoms from the pears and slice lengthwise ¼ - ⅛ – inch thick, keeping the slices together.
- 1⁄2 cup (80 g) Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 flour or sweet white rice flour
- 1⁄2 cup (55 g) Bi-Rite blanched sliced almonds or almond flour
- 1⁄2 cup (45 g) cocoa powder (preferably dutch-process)
- 2 tablespoons (12 g) tapioca flour
- 1⁄4 cup (50 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 1⁄4 plus 1⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 5 tablespoons (70 g) cold, unsalted butter, diced into 1⁄2” cubes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cooking spray or extra butter, for the pan
- ¼ cup (50 g) organic granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons (30 g) Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 flour or sweet white rice flour
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ cup (60 ml) crème fraiche
- Poached pears, from above
- 1 tablespoon organic granulated sugar, for sprinkling
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream or a mix of cream and crème fraiche, for serving (optional)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the almonds, GF all-purpose flour or sweet rice flour, and cocoa powder with the tapioca starch, sugar and salt. Process until the almonds are finely ground. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and drizzle with the vanilla extract. Process until the dough starts to clump together.
- Dump about half of the crumbs into a lightly sprayed or buttered 9-inch loose-bottom tart pan and press the dough evenly into the sides of the pan. Add the remaining crumbs and press them into the bottom, keeping the edges square. (It usually takes me about 10 minutes to make it look pretty.) Freeze until firm, 15–30 minutes, or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.
- Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until slightly puffed and firm to the touch, 20-25 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and, while it’s still hot, press the sides and bottom firmly with the back of a spoon; this will help it hold together when cool. Keep warm.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in the egg, then the cream and crème fraiche until smooth. Pour the custard into the bottom of the baked tart shell. Gently fan the sliced pears out over the top of the custard. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon sugar over the pears.
- Bake the tart until the custard is puffed and set, 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool until warm. Release the sides of the pan and let the tart cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature, or chill. Serve the tart drizzled with the reduced poaching liquid.
- 2 ounces bourbon or whiskey
- 1 ounce reduced poaching liquid, from above
- 1 ounce strained lemon juice
- Fizzy water, optional
- Combine all in cocktail shaker and shake or stir for 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with fizzy water if desired.