Wave of Wonders

Wave of Wonders
Ed Anderson Photography

As a lifelong San Diego Padres fan, I grew up in the illustrious heyday of Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman. I used to enter poetry contests sponsored by the local supermarket to win baseball game tickets, and then I’d scream my little heart out from the nosebleed section for love of the game and free admission.

In addition to the soft serve in a helmet and the seventh-inning stretch, doing the wave was a major highlight. I was always amazed that so many people scattered around a stadium could coordinate a movement so fluid, even when some individuals weren’t perfectly in sync.

This design, made up of many thin slices of fruit layered together, reminds me of that orchestrated effort. Even if some of your slices are a little thicker than others, or the placement of your rows a tad wobbly, the overall effect will still elicit wave reviews.


1 baked Basic Shortbread Crust, cooled completely:

  • 1 cup (142 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (57 grams) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch cubes


  • ½ cup (118 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese
  • ½ cup (57 grams) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ÂĽ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ÂĽ cup (59 milliliters) brewed black coffee, cold


  • 1 firm red pear, such as D’Anjou
  • 1 firm green pear, such as Concorde
  • 1 firm yellow pear, such as Bartlett
  • 1 firm brown pear, such as Bosc
  • Chef’s knife or mandoline slicer



I often refer to this as emergency shortbread. Its simplicity makes it the perfect candidate for last-minute dinner parties, surprise houseguests, or sudden midnight cravings, and its humble flavor profile complements any sweet filling. Keep this recipe in your back pocket.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture by smushing the cubes with your fingers, working until a homogenous dough forms. The resulting dough should be smooth and supple.
  3. Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, using your palm to flatten it into an even layer. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any butter drips that occur during baking and to provide stability as you transfer the tart shell in and out of the oven.
  4. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.


  1. In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks with an electric mixer. Set aside.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Beat with the electric mixer until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain, about 1 minute. Add the coffee 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Gently fold in the whipped cream until just incorporated. Set aside.


  1. Stand the pears stem-up and run your knife straight down to cut each into four wedges, slicing as close to the core as possible but avoiding the seeds. It’s okay if the sections vary in height, as this will lend an additional textural dimension to the tart.
  2. Place each pear section skin-side up and cut into 1-millimeter slices. If you have a mandoline, this is a pearfect opportunity to use I, but watch your fingers! You’ll need those for this design (and every other one in the book, for that matter). The slices shouldn’t be too thick to bend, but neither should they be so thin that they are translucent. They should retain enough structure to stand upright in the cream. Keep the pear slices organized by color as you slice.
  3. Remove the baked and cooled shortbread crust from the pan and place it securely on a plate. Dollop the coffee cream in the center and spread it evenly over the surface of the crust with an offset spatula, leaving a ÂĽ-inch edge of exposed crust.
  4. Gather 8 pear slices of one color and lay them on their side in a slightly overlapping line on the cutting board. Carefully transfer the line of pears as a single unit and stand them skin side up in the coffee cream, curving the line slightly and using the cream to hold everything in place.
  5. Gather 8 slices of another color and repeat the process of organizing them in an overlapping line. Transfer this group of slices to the tart and place it adjacent to the first line of fruit, following the curve. Continue this process of fitting lines of pears—staggering the lines, varying the curves, and alternating colors—until the entire surface of the tart has been covered. You can also vary the number of slices in each line of fruit depending on the remaining space.
  6. This tart is most visually striking when served immediately. Refrigerated leftovers after the first day will still be tasty but less appealing in presentation, as the pear slices will brown.

Topping alternative: Apples


The type of pear matters less than the color variety, although for design variation, you can opt to limit your color assortment.

I serve this tart right away, but if you are concerned about oxidation, mix 2 tablespoons honey in a bowl with 1 cup water and soak the pear slices for 1 minute. Drain the slices and pat dry before arranging.

From Pieometry: Modern Tart Art and Pie Design for the Eye and the Palate by Lauren Ko. Copyright © 2020 by Lauren Ko. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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