It's 7 a.m. at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Chef John Difilippo is in front of his baking and pastry class, explaining the difference between a pie and a tart.
“This is not a pie, it’s a tart,” he tells the students, who are surprisingly alert and maybe even a little hyper for so early in the morning. They lean forward in their seats.
“A tart is more refined than a pie, while a pie is more rustic,” he tells them.
RECIPE: Pear Tart with Pistachio Frangipane
Baking is essentially a sweet science. The class engages in a lively question and answer period about the temperature of fondant (hint, it’s around 175 to 180°F).
“What matters to me is that the product is perfect,” DiFilippo says, referring to the formula and method of tart making. No pressure.
They discuss flavor combinations. What could offset the bitterness of dark chocolate? Someone mentions ice cream, and Difilippo says, “Maybe we could make some ice cream today…” and the class releases its collective inner-kid-in-a-candy-store with exclamations of “Can we make ice cream? Ice cream! Yeah!”
The ice cream never does get made, as the class works so hard on the tarts. They split into teams and create many tarts striving for perfection: fruit custard, Swedish hazelnut, lemon curd, caramel walnut, chocolate fudge and of course, the pear tart. Read on to see step by step photos of the process.