Seckel Pear Soft Shelled Creme Tart

Sometime last month I waltzed into my local neighborhood food market expecting to dash in and out, retrieving the few items I needed and to quickly flee.  I was however stopped dead in my tracks upon entering the store.  There in front of me was a collection of the most dainty, diminutive pears I’d ever seen and I was instantly smitten.  Tiny pears.  I mean, American Doll size pears.  I was filling a bag before I knew it, marveling all the while, not knowing if I’d cook with them or use them as an accessory.

Seckel Pears are certainly petite, about 2 ½ inches tall and are about 2 inches around.  They have a milder flavor than many other larger pear varieties.  They are usually available between September and December so this is the time to be on the lookout for them.  Part of their charm is that they don’t oxidize as easily when cut, holding their creamy internal color without browning longer than other pear varieties.

Always loving a surprise intro to a new fruit or vegetable, especially one so fetching, I set out to incorporate them into a fitting dessert; only after admiring them on my countertop for several days.  I settled on a Soft Shelled Cream Tart which is easy to make without the process of rolling out a hard tart shell.  The flavor and texture are beautifully soft and seasonal.  It’s a relatively quick dessert to whip up as well as one which is unique, like the Seckel pear.

Seckel Pear Soft Shelled Creme Tart

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8-12 servings

Almond meal makes a wonderful combination with the pears as well as making it gluten free. Other, larger varieties of pears can be substituted for the Seckel pears and substitution quantities are noted in the recipe. Note: Prepare the crust and then follow with the filling and baking.


    For the SHELL:
  • I stick of unsalted butter (and some extra for buttering the pan), room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup almond flour/meal
  • For the FILLING:
  • ¾ cups crème fraiche
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 5-6 Seckel pears, peeled, sliced in 4 pieces vertically with core removed (or 2-3 larger pears, peeled, cored and sliced into vertical pieces)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter a 9 inch round tart pan. With a stand or handheld mixer, beat together the butter, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt until fluffy (about a minute).
  3. Add the 3 whole eggs one at a time, mixing each in fully before adding the next one. Scrape sides of bowl if needed during mixing.
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix in.
  5. Add almond meal and mix just until combined; do not over mix.
  6. Using a spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are mixed together. Pour the batter into the prepared tart pan, scraping all batter from the bowl.
  7. Spread batter in tart pan to cover the bottom and up on the sides to the top of the pan creating a cavity. It will not be stiff batter and will not stay fully up on the sides though the cavity will remain intact. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
  8. Whisk together crème fraiche, 2 egg yolks, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, cardamom and nutmeg. Pour into the cavity of the crust batter. Smooth out with a spatula allowing a border of crust batter to be between the side of the tart pan and the filling which will form a bit of a rim.
  9. Place the pear slices in the filling in any decorative pattern you choose.
  10. I suggest putting the tart on a cookie sheet to bake to stabilize getting it into and out of the oven (I also used a tart pan with a removable bottom so there was a bit of leakage). Place the tart in the oven and bake until slightly golden, about 35 minutes. Serve warm.



    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      You’ll love this then Claudia. I think what I love most about pears is their subtle, deliciousness and their beautiful juicy texture and shape. The size of these is beyond adorable!

  1. says

    We always host Thanksgiving dinner, and our friend Vivian, a wonderful baker, won’t be here this year. She and her man got a better offer from a long-time friend of his who will be in the area. That leaves the baking to me, and my efforts are never as pretty as hers (or yours, Toni). I do pretty well with open-top tarts, however, and I think you just provided me with one dessert recipe. Thanks a lot. I needed that.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      I’m sorry your friend won’t be with you Claire. This dessert could not be easier, really. With the fuss of a traditional crust out of the way it’s really two froms of batter and pears; bake and you are done. It has a beautiful soft texture and is very unique. I was surprised I got the pic’s before it was inhaled at my house!

  2. says

    I’ve had Seckel Pears but it’s been several years, and we didn’t bake with them. But we should – such a lovely dessert you’ve made. Love the cardamom in this – such great flavor. Great pictures. My fav is the bottom, although they’re all excellent.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Thanks John. I am so glad to discover Seckel Pears. I’ve missed many years without them! They perfect in so many ways; snack sized, great for lunch boxes. I like the bottom pic too!

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Thank you Pola! It’s such a simple tart and unique I think. Love the consolidated steps to not make a traditional tart shell. Hope you’ll try it! Happy fall to you.


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