Lucy Waverman & James Chatto’s Spiced Pear Tarts

A fall or winter dessert recipe.

Poached Pears
1 pie shell
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
3 star anise
6 pods cardamom, crushed
4 Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled, cored and halved

1 cup mascarpone
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp chopped pistachio nuts, optional

Note: Use a simple shortbread crust for this magnificent tart, or buy an unbaked pie shell and bake it, unfilled, according to the package directions. Bake the pastry and prepare the filling a day ahead and assemble the tart on the day of the party.


Step 1: Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Step 2: Roll out pastry on a floured board and fit into a 9″ tart pan. Prick pastry with a fork, line with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes.

Step 3: Remove foil and beans and bake for 5 minutes longer. Cool.

Step 4: Bring water, sugar, star anise and cardamom to a boil in a large skillet over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes.

Step 5: Reduce heat to a medium-low and add pears. Poach for 10-25 minutes, or until pears are tender. Cooking time will depend on ripeness of pears. Cool pears in poaching liquid.

Step 6: Remove pears to a cake rack set over a plate to drain. Reserve poaching liquid.

Step 7: Prepare filling by beating mascarpone with sugar, 2 tbsp pear poaching liquid and lemon zest.

Step 8: Whip cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone. Spread filling over baked tart shell.

Step 9: Transfer remaining poaching liquid to a pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, or until thickened and reduced by half.

Step 10: Slice pears and arrange in a circle on top of filling. Brush about 2 tbsp poaching liquid over pears. Sprinkle with pistachios.

For another delicious dessert from Lucy Waverman, try her Empire Biscuits Recipe.

Reprinted with permission from A Matter of Taste: Inspired Seasonal Menus with Wines and Spirits to Match by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto (2004 Harper Collins Canada).

Michael Graydon