Caramelized Pear Tart - Not the Final Version
(No Photos Allowed During Exam)
The first session is over! I can't believe how fast it went. From my apple tart disaster to a damn good chocolate mousse cake. I have made some new friends and look forward to the next session of cuisine.
After our last demonstration, we went downstairs to eat lunch and study. The administrators had, in their infinite wisdom, posted our written exam scores. I did well on the exam - 92, but just ok on the list of ingredients - 70. The final was hectic, two and a half hours disappeared in a flash. We drew colored tokens to find out what we would produce and I got a green - which meant the Caramelized Pear Tart. I wasn't too concerned, but I knew that beating the egg whites by hand would be time-consuming and a little tiring. The other groups made a Pithivier (puff pastry with almond cream) and the yummy Moka cake. The room was very quiet, no laughing, just serious concentration.
For the pear tart, start with a sweet short pastry crust. Caramelize pears with butter and sugar, add some sultanas (white raisins) and pear brandy. Make the meringue and line the bottom of the pie with it to hold the pear juices. Add the pears on top with some black currants and then pipe three rows of meringue very carefully with arms that are still shaking from beating the egg whites. Don't forget to cover with lots of powdered sugar and sliced almonds - luckily Chef JJ reminded me as I was about to bake my tart without them!
Make the dough to line the tart ring for the technical portion, I only had to reroll once, and then pinch the dough for a pretty edge.
Keep checking my pear tart in the oven and clean up my station. My meringue rose well, but I had a little landslide to the side of the cake, making the tart ring removal hairy. Chef JJ helped, and it looked alright. Of the 5 of us that made it, I think mine was in the middle looks-wise. Not sure about the taste. There were definitely some closely averted catastrophes for the others as well, one classmate used another's tart ring by accident, one forget the sugar in the meringue. And that was just for the 5 of us making the pear concoction!
I joined a few classmates for a post-mortem at the local bar. Hoegaarten on tap makes all patisserie concerns melt away. Small graduation ceremony at the school Friday afternoon, then I can get back to sightseeing in Paris, hosting friends and maybe even trying some French pastries.