FRENCH PEAR TART

8 or 9 years ago when I was a new food blogger, I joined a MEME group known as Tuesdays with Dorie where we made a different recipe from her cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, each week. Of ALL the recipes we made this was one of my all time favorites! It is PERFECT for this time of year!

FRENCH PEAR TART
SHELL
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk

  • To make the dough, put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  • Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely.
  • Add egg and process in long pulses about 10 seconds each until smoother.
  • Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
  • Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap well and chill for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.
  • Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  • You want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don’t want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.
  • Freeze the crust for an hour before baking.
  • To partially bake the crust, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust.
  • Bake the crust 25 minutes.
  • Then carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the pan to a cooling rack.

PEARS
3 medium pears, firm but ripe
1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups water, optional
1 1/4 cups sugar, optional

  • Peel the pears.
  • In a saucepan just large enough to hold the pears, whisk together the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the cinnamon stick and the juice of the lemon.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add the pears to the boiling syrup, reduce the heat so the syrup simmers to GENTLY poach the pears for about 15 minutes. They should be tender when pierced with a knife.
  • Remove from heat and set pan aside to cool the pears to room temperature.

ALMOND CREAM
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, room temperature
2 teaspoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  • Add butter and sugar to a food processor and process till mixture is smooth and satiny.
  • Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended.
  • Add the flour and cornstarch, process,.
  • Add the egg, processing for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is well blended.
  • Add the rum or vanilla and process just to blend.
  • Scrape the almond cream into a container and either use it immediately or refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours.

ASSEMBLY & BAKING

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Line a baking sheet and set aside.
  • Cut the poached pears in half.
  • Core them and make sure to pat them 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 an offset metal icing spatula.
  • Thinly slice each pear half crosswise, lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly.
  • 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, slide the sheet into the oven and bake the tart 50 to 60 minutes.
  • The almond cream will puff up around the pears and brown. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to room temperature.
  • Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar..

NOTE:  Almond cream pairs well with a variety of fruits such as apricots, peaches and apples as substitutes or combinations.

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