In this classic French tart, poached pear halves are thinly sliced and baked into a soft, frangipane filling, then glazed with a glossy apricot nappage and decorated with lightly toasted sliced almonds. The delicate flavor and texture of the pears is an ideal match for the light and nutty almond cake, and just right for the fall season. To simplify things, I like to make the tart dough, poached pears and almond cream one day, and then assemble and bake the tart the day I’m serving it.
Makes one 11-inch tart, serving 8 to 10
- 1 ½ cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup (64 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 9 tablespoons (127 grams) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and frozen for 15 minutes
- 1 large (18 grams) egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) heavy cream
- 4 cups (944 grams) water
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- Pinch of salt
- 3 medium-size, ripe but firm Bosc pears, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, cored and stems removed
- 10 tablespoons (142 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups (150 grams) super-fine almond flour
- 3 large (150 grams) eggs
- 2 tablespoons (16 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons dark rum (this is optional, but so good! I like Mount Gay brand)
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup (106 grams) apricot jam or preserves
- 1/3 cup (28 grams) sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
Make the tart dough:
- Place the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter cubes on top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream and, while the machine is running, add to the flour mixture, blending until the dough just begins to come together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a thick disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
Poach the pears:
- In a large saucepan, combine the water, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pear halves and cook until at a low simmer until tender, about 10 minutes, turning the pears halfway through cooking. Remove the pan from the heat and let the pears cool in the syrup. (You poach the pears in advance and store them in the syrup in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
Roll out the tart dough:
- Unwrap the dough and place it between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Roll the dough out to a 14-inch round, flipping the paper occasionally. (If your kitchen is warm and the dough gets too soft, transfer the dough and paper to a baking sheet and refrigerate until it has firmed up, about 20 minutes.) Peel off the top piece of paper, flip the dough and peel off the other piece of paper. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin and transfer it to an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Roll the pin over the top of the tart pan to remove the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork at 1-inch intervals. Freeze the dough for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375˚F.
Blind bake the tart shell:
- Place the frozen tart shell on a baking sheet and line the dough with a piece of parchment paper (or butter the shiny side of foil and place the buttered side down, against the dough). Fill the lined tart shell with pie weights or dried beans and bake until the edges of the shell just begin to color, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the paper and weights. Bake the unlined tart shell for another 5 minutes, just until the bottom no longer looks raw. Set the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool while you make the Almond Cream. Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F.
Make the Almond Cream:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until well-combined and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the almond flour and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Add the flour, vanilla extract, rum and salt and mix until combined.
- Spread the Almond Cream into the cooled tart shell, smoothing it into an even layer.
Bake the tart:
- Dry each pear with a paper towel and, while maintaining the shape of the pear, cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Press down gently on the pear to fan the slices a little. Slide a chef’s knife under the slices, and arrange the pears, keeping their shape, with their bottoms around the edge of the tart and the stem ends pointing to the center and spacing them evenly around the edge. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the tart for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the filling is a deep golden brown (cover the tart with a piece of foil if it starts to over-brown). Let the tart cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Garnish the tart:
- Place the apricot jam in a small cup and microwave on high until melted, about 15 seconds. Strain the jam through a fine-mesh sieve. Brush the strained and melted jam over the top of the tart. Sprinkle the tart with the toasted almonds. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.