COCONUT ALMOND PEAR TART
Adapted from BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS by Dorie Greenspan
3 medium pears, firm but ripe
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg
2 teaspoons coconut rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 partially-baked 9-inch tart shell, made with Sweet Tart Dough (see below), at room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting, or apple jelly for glazing
- Make the sweet dough recipe below first!
- Peel pears, but leave them whole.
- Bring the 4 cups water, the 1 1/4 cups sugar and the juice of the lemon to a boil in a saucepan just large enough to hold the pears.
- Add the pears to the boiling syrup, lower the heat so the syrup simmers and gently poach the pears until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.
- Cool the pears to room temperature in the syrup.
To make the almond cream:
- Cream the butter and sugar in the food processor until the mixture is smooth and satiny.
- Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended.
- Add the flour and cornstarch, process, and then add the egg. Process until almond cream is smooth and consistent.
- Add the rum and vanilla and process just to blend.
- Place the almond cream in a container and refrigerate it until firm.
- Center rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a jelly roll pan with a silicone mat.
- Cut the pears in half from blossom to stem and core them; make sure to pat the pears dry – really dry – so that their liquid won’t keep the almond cream from baking.
- Fill the baked crust with the almond cream, spreading it even with a spatula.
- Thinly slice each pear half crosswise, lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly and place it, wide-end toward the edge of the crust, over the almond cream. The halves will form spokes.
- Put the crust on the lined baking sheet.
- Bake the tart 50 to 60 minutes, or until the almond cream puffs up around the pears and browns.
- Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature before unmolding.
Right before serving, dust the tart with powdered sugar or top with whipped cream sprinkled with toasted coconut.
SWEET TART DOUGH
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup sweet flaked toasted coconut
To make the dough:
- Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
- Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely – you’ll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that’s just fine.
- Beat the egg slightly, and gradually add it, pulsing after each addition.
- When all of the egg has been added, process in long pulses – about 10 seconds each – until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface.
- Very lightly and sparingly – make that very, very lightly and sparingly – knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
- Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
- Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.