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in the kitchen with: megan fizell’s pear tart

by Kristina Gill

Other people’s passions and talents always intrigue me. Sydney-based art historian Megan Fizell writes about her two loves, art and food, on the Feasting on Art blog, where she develops recipes from artwork that features food. I think it’s such a great idea and was quite impressed by her work when I came across her blog last year. For us, she found a painting by the late American artist, Tom Wesselmann, which features pears and whiskey (and spaghetti, it appears). Megan focused on the pears and whiskey to develop a pear tart with whiskey cream. Adding toasted hazelnuts to the crust makes it even richer. It’s a perfect base for lightly spiced pears. And the whiskey cream is divine! Any tips on making a gluten-free crust for this are most welcome! — Kristina

About Megan: Megan Fizell is a Sydney-based art historian and freelance writer concerned with the representation of food within the visual arts. She is the voice of the food and art blog, Feasting on Art, an innovative translation of painting to plate — recipes inspired by art.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!

Pear Tart with Whiskey Cream
Makes 1 tart

Pie Crust

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, ground
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water

1. Place the flour, hazelnuts, butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Begin rubbing the butter into the flour, working it until the mixture resembles wet sand and clumps together. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix together until it forms a loose ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead slightly. Form into a round disk and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

2. After at least an hour in the refrigerator, work the dough into a 1-cm (1/3-inch) thick round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Lift the dough into a 9-inch buttered pie pan. If the pastry breaks up, you can fit it back together by pressing it into the pie tin. Ensure there is an even layer of pastry within the tin. To create a decorative edge, roll the remaining pastry into small balls and press around the edge of the tin. Once assembled in the pie tin, place the pastry in the freezer. (Do not do this if you are using a ceramic/porcelain dish, or any dish that may suffer from extreme temperature differences.)

3. Heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Remove the tin from the freezer, place a sheet of parchment paper over it and pour in baking weights, dried beans or rice to weight the pastry. This step, called blind baking, will keep the base from rising later once it has been filled.

4. Slide into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the baking weights and prick the base of the crust with a fork to release steam.

Pear Filling

  • 3 large pears
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon whiskey

1. Cut the pears in half and remove the cores. Slice into 1/4-inch slices and place in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and toss to evenly coat the fruit.

2. Arrange the sliced pear attractively in the blind-baked crust and slide into the oven for an additional 30 minutes. For the first 15 minutes, cover the tart with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the fruit from burning. Remove the foil to finish baking and remove from the oven once the fruit is soft and the crust golden.

3. Once cooled slightly, top with the cold whiskey cream and serve.

Whiskey Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon whiskey
  • seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk on the medium-high setting until the cream is light and fluffy and the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Photography by Kristina Gill. Navy blue plate by Laboratorio Pesaro, red linen napkin from Fog Linen, ash bread plates by mud australia, shot glass by IKEA, vintage ice cream server by Nils Johan (Sweden), all other items vintage flea market finds.

Why Megan Chose This Recipe
Combining the ingredients in Tom Wesselmann’s Still Life #2 was a natural marriage; the dark molasses flavours of the whiskey complement the subtle sweetness of the pear with the toasty hints in the liquor mirrored in the toasted hazelnuts of the crust. Cinnamon and ginger continue the warming flavour palette and provides a sharp spiciness to the tart — the perfect foil to the cooling whiskey cream, speckled with vanilla seeds.

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  • I love everything about this!! The concept of the site (which I will be visiting immediately after this), the beautiful photograph and the delicious sounding recipe!! Fabulous!

  • You never see pears sliced that way–great idea.
    By the way, Apartment Therapy has been doing a gluten free theme. I’m sure you can find a tart shell recipe there.

  • To make a gluten free crust, create a mixture of alternative flours to substitute for the wheat flour. I would suggest 1/3 cup rice flour, 1/3 cup millet flour and 1/3 cup cornstarch.A teaspoon of Xanthan gum will help it all stick together. This tart looks so yummy!

  • I am inspired and I have pears in the fridge waiting to become something else.
    I am making a g-free crust using a blend of 2/3 hazelnut flour and 1/3 King Arthur g-free flour blend. I just bought the hazelnut flour at Wegma;s an can’t wait to try it.
    I will also adjust the butter and salt in the recipe. I like no-trans fat shortening and butter mixed.

    btw: for the truly gluten avoiders –whisky contains gluten.

  • Thanks for turning me on to a fantastic new (to me) blog! I love her concept. And the idea of pears coupled with whiskey in a tart. Yum.

  • Now I know what to do when CSA season starts up again. Last season I had so many pears I didn’t know what to do with them.


  • Now I know what to do when CSA season starts up again. Last season I had so many pears I didn’t know what to do with them.


  • this looked so good that I made it yesterday, but be careful with that teaspoon of salt… :/ I’d reduce it to something much less next time!

  • I made this a few days ago and it’s already gone. It was reeeeally good.. especially the whipped cream! Definitely making this one again.

  • So my wife made this for my birthday last week with some Harry & David pears. All I have to say is that I may need to find a support group for people who struggle with an addiction to whiskey cream. We couldn’t find hazelnuts so we substituted pecans and it was amazing. Thanks for the recipe, it’s definitely one for the box.

  • So, I made this today…or I tried to make it…the crust was awful! Extremely salty even after halving the salt, and there was NO substance to it – there’s so much butter in the dough it’s almost like batter, and it crumbles into nothing once baked. I wound up making a tried-and-true standby pie dough instead (with ground nuts in the crust) and going ahead with the filling as given.

    • Kat

      I’m so sorry that happened. Did make any changes or substitutions to the recipe? If not, we’ll see if we can figure out what the issue is.