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.
Maple Custard Brioche Tarts with Caramelized Pears
- ½ cup warm milk (100-110 degrees F) (114 grams)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (11 grams)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (537 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup butter, softened, cut into 16 small chunks (226 grams)
- 2 cups 500 ml milk (500 ml)
- ½ vanilla bean
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup cornstarch (30 grams)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (67 grams)
- 2 tablespoon butter (28 grams)
- ¼ cup maple syrup (85 grams)
- 3 pears peeled, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoon granulated sugar (38 grams)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water
- caramel sauce optional
- Combine ½ cup warm milk with 1 tablespoon active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture is foamy.
- Combine 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ cup sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture along with 5 eggs. Mix the dough using the dough hook and knead for 8 minutes. Add the butter a few pieces at a time while the mixer is mixing on low. Continue to add all of the butter. Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The dough will be very soft and shiny.
- Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour.
- Continue to proof the dough in the fridge overnight.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on two lined baking sheets, 6 per sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the maple custard. Scrape the seeds from ½ a vanilla pod and combine with 2 cups milk in a medium saucepot. Heat over medium-low heat until the milk is warm.
- Whisk together 2 egg yolks, 1 egg, ¼ cup cornstarch, and ⅓ cup sugar until well combined. Slowly add the warm milk to the eggs, whisking constantly. Continue to add all of the milk. Pour the mixture back into the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Cook until the custard has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoon butter and ¼ cup maple syrup. Cool completely, covering the custard with plastic wrap directly on top to avoid skin from forming.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Peel and thinly slice the pears. Gently toss the pears with 3 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
- Using your hands, gently flatten each ball into a 5-inch circle, creating a small border. Use your hands to push the dough outwards like when you shape pizza, to create a well in the center. Fill the center with 2 tablespoon custard and ¼ pear per tart. Brush the edges with the egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and drizzle caramel sauce on top. Serve warm.
**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 fat content, 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 skin from forming.
Peel and slice pears, gently tossing them with 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 fingers to flatten each of the brioche balls into a 5-inch circle, making a slight dent in the center. Think of it like when you make pizza. Push the dough out from the center to create a "wall". We want the center to be like a well so that the custard will stay in place. 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.
For a savory version, check out these bacon and egg brioche tarts.