I love making bread. People always ask me, “what’s your favorite dish to cook?” and my answer is always, “bread.” There’s just something so satisfying about spending time kneading and proofing dough to yield beautiful, delicious bread. I always say homemade is better and that cannot be truer when it comes to bread. So today I’m sharing my recipe for maple custard brioche tarts with caramelized pears. This treat takes some effort but like always, the result is worth it.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Brioche is a special type of dough in that it is enriched with butter and eggs. Because of the high content of fat, the bread is rich and light. I’ll be honest, it took me years to make good brioche, and now, I just can’t get enough.
These maple custard brioche tarts with caramelized pears take a basic brioche dough and transform it into a sweet pastry. Filled with a vanilla maple custard, topped with juicy pears, and baked to perfection, they are truly a wonderful treat.
There are several key steps to make a good brioche. The first is to add the butter a few pieces at a time. If you add all of the butter to the dough at once, the butter will not be incorporated properly and the dough will become a gloopy mess. The second is to chill the dough overnight. Doing so allows the gluten to fully develop and chills the butter, making it easier to shape. You can chill the dough for up to two days.
When you are ready to prepare the maple custard brioche tarts with caramelized pears, remove the dough from the fridge and portion it into 12 equal portions. If you want to be exact, use a scale to weigh each portion. Roll each portion into a smooth ball, cover and let it rise for about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the filling. I recently read an article on when you should vanilla beans or vanilla extract. Long story short, you want to use vanilla beans when vanilla is the main flavor. This maple vanilla custard is the perfect example. You can also prepare the custard the day before, just make sure to cover the custard with plastic wrap directly on top to prevent a skin from forming.
Peel and slice pears, gently tossing them with brown sugar and cinnamon. I used Bosc pears but Anjou and Bartletts are also fine choices.
Now it’s finally time to prepare the tarts! Gently use your palms to flatten each of the brioche balls into a 5-inch circle, making a slight dent in the center. Fill the center with the prepared custard and lay the sliced pear on top. Brush the edges of the tarts with egg wash and bake until the tarts are golden brown.
These beautiful maple custard brioche tarts with caramelized pears are delicious as is but if you want to take them to the next level, drizzle on some caramel sauce. Okay so this pastry is about 2 days of work BUT they are just so delicious and pleasing to the eye. I would say, definitely worth it.
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