Fall is in the air. Everywhere you look around. Lips are starting to chap at a faster rate, and convniently you cannot find your good chapstick. However, conveniently, your co-worker brought in pears and you were day dreaming about your aunt's pear tart nearly moments earlier.
So here we are. Pears, pumpkins, it-shall-not-be-named-spice-lattes, chilly winds, chapped lips.
Never a better moment for a tart-because really, I think pies and gallettes and quick breads get all the love in the early moments of fall. Tarts are, for me, a little more fuss-but that is exactly why I love this recipe: minimal fuss, but high reward. Yes, it even looks a little ordinary, but if you want an attractive spiral of pear slices showing after baking, fill it a little less with the frangipane. (if you need to know what frangipane is, see here!)
Rest assured, the pastry for this tart is a press-in style, and if you get down to it, you don't really need to chill the pastry after it has been nudged into the pan (but it does help keep shape, if you're keeeping track).
Pears, since they can go a little mushy when ripe, can be firm. They will soften as the tart bakes, and not turn to complete mush. And, a firmer pear is easier to peel (but you can skip peeling, if you just can't muster it-I know!). I'd venture to guess that apples would work as well here. Replace almonds with walnuts....heck, even pistachios or hazelnuts. Used skinned or fully clothed (i.e. with skin on) nuts, or peeled, the latter resulting in a deeper beige-brown tart. Play with the spices: my aunt's signature is a perfectly balanced hit of cardamom. I usually have a heavy hand with the nutmeg, and throw in ground dried ginger.The little tweaks are endless; my aunt was telling me a few weeks back of her newest rendition of the crust: adding some almond meal! My next idea: a few tablespoons of cormean, paired with apples and perhaps a few fresh cranberries for celebrating autumn.Whatever you do, do make this tart and make it yours...and enjoy it, cozied up on a cool fall morning with a hot cup of tea or coffee, or even after a warming evening meal...make it a more decadent treat with a swoosh of unsweetend whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream. You can't go wrong!
Karen's Pear and Almond Tart (Pear and Frangipane Tart) // makes 1, 9" to 10" tart //
- 1 1/3 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp (a pinch!) fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 large egg yolks (reserve the whites)
- 3-4 semi-firm pears
- 3/4 cup almonds, toasted and ground medium fine (or, almond flour; really any nut flour or ground nut would work)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon*
- 1/2 tsp cardamom*
- 1/4 tsp ground dried ginger*
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperatures
- 1 egg plus 2 egg whites from above
- 3 tsp vanila extract and/or 1 TB bourbon or other liquer of choice (I use bourbon steeped with vanilla beans)
- optional: 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 TB flour
*any spices you'd like!
1. Make the crust & blind bake: preheat oven to 300. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter and salt; with a fork or a pastry blender, blend in the butter with the flour until cornmeal-like consistency, with a few larger chunks the size of peas. Press into a 9-10" tart pan in an even layer. Bake, using pie weights, beans or sugar (my favorite weight!) in parchment or aluminum foil, for 20 minutes until lightly golden brown. Bake for another 10-15 minutes with the pie weights taken out, to brown and firm the bottom. Once done, allow to cool slightly. After you take the tart shell out of the oven, increase the temperature to 350F.
2. While the crust bakes, peel, core (I like to use a teaspoon), and slice the pears into 1/4" to 1/8" slices. Set in a bowl of lemon water to keep from browning.
3. Make the filling by combining butter, sugar, spices and extracts, beating until fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add in the eggs and combine, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Finally, mix in the flour.
4. Assemble the tart: arrange the pear slices in a decorative layer in the tart shell, or go for the more rustic route if you wish. Pour the frangipane of the arranged fruit, filling a little less if you want your design to show, and a little more if you don't mind flooding the fruit.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the frangipane is golden and aromatic. Cool completely before taking the tart from the ring, using a paring knife to help loosen any stubborn areas where the tart shell sticks to the ring. Worst case: cut slices from the tart ring! Serve alone, or with lightly whipped unsweetned cream, or your favorite vanilla ice cream. Tart keeps for 1 week in the fridge.