Uh… it’s taken me a while to get around to editing the how-to video for this Pear and Almond Tart, which I made many months ago. Anyhoo, the backstory is I was craving this tart one day. I can’t remember when or where I had it last – could be in Paris, or could be a French restaurant in NYC. I love the the play on textures – soft pear, custard-like almond filling, crumbly crust, and airy whipped cream on top… not to mention the nutty almond flavor with the crisp sweetness of poached pears, mmm-mm-mm! Simply exquisite.
This was my first time making this tart and it took me three days to complete it! Not that it’d typically take that long, but because the process was interrupted. I made the pie dough/crust on the first day and refrigerated it overnight. The second day I had to be out all day attending to who-kn0ws-what-I-can-hardly-remember-now so I resumed this tart project on the third day. At the time I was thinking to myself how laborious this tart was to make. But when it was finally done and came out of the oven looking all pretty, I fell in love with it once more and taking my first bite into it made all that effort worthwhile.
As complicated and daunting as the recipe below may appear at first, this tart doesn’t even require all that many ingredients. Most of them are basic items already available in the kitchen pantry. However, there are three separate components – the crust, the filling, and the topping- that have to be made and timed separately, hence allocate time accordingly since there’s no way to rush through the process.
Tarte aux Poire et Amandes | Pear and Almond Tart
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
Juice from half a lemon
3 medium-size firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled
1 cinnamon quill
Splash of rum (or two, or three…)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
Bring 4 cups water, sugar, and lemon juice to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add cinnamon, rum, then pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Blend powdered sugar, almonds, and salt in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and blend until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Mix in egg yolk. Add flour. Using on/off turns, blend until dough comes together in clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
For almond filling:
Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in sugar, then butter, blending until smooth. Mix in egg. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 10 minutes.
Line crust with buttered foil, buttered side down, then fill with dried beans or pie weights (I used rice). Bake crust until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil. Bake crust until sides are golden and bottom is set, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 10 minutes longer. Cool crust in pan on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
Spread almond filling evenly in crust. Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of wheel with narrow ends in center.
Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges; sprinkle with powdered sugar or fresh whipped cream, if desired, and serve.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2005
Ooopsies, I kinda scorched the edges of the tart a bit. I swear I’m still not getting the hang of the metric markings for my oven’s temperature setting. Damn irritating. My sis gave me an oven thermometer which I place on one of the racks inside, but still… the temperature seems to be inconsistent. Oh well, the tart still tasted really damn good though.
I invited my buds over to help me eat this and after digging his fork into a slice, one of them quipped, “I don’t usually eat desserts but this is so good I’m not sharing. Moonie, you should start selling this”. Why, thank you. That had to be one of the sweetest compliments ever. Safe to say, this turned out to be a success! Woot, woot.
Trés French! :9