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Pear and Almond Tart
This is a gorgeous dessert – visually, texturally, and of course, where it matters most, in the taste department. It came to me via good friend and fellow CRNA/foodie Josie Ueker. We had a delightful afternoon cooking and chuckling about a “pair of Josie’s baking a pear dessert”.
… I can see you rolling your eyes.
Anyway, the recipe has been in her repertoire for a while, but she got it from the book Once Upon A Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau.
Pears are Fall’s Unsung Hero Fruit
Fall usually means apple everything and the lonely little pear seems to have lost its luster in the food world. This not exactly a tragedy, but it’s surely something that deserves at least a small amount of energy to rectify.
Let’s start with this tart. I mean, look at her …
The pears are soft and yielding, the almonds and crust are crunchy, and the custard adds a welcoming creaminess that quite frankly, is a little unexpected. Just looking at her, you think she’s going to be all pears.
You’ll find the crust recipe here. Depending on the size of your tart pan, you won’t need the whole recipe. Save half of the dough for another tart or this simple single crust pie that uses frozen or fresh fruit.
You do need a tart pan like this with a bottom that slides out.
Pear and Almond Tart
Make a crust, poach the pears, make a custard. Put the pears and the custard in the tart. Bake. Cool. Eat.
For the Tart Crust
- 1 unbaked tart crust Rolled out, fitted in the tart pan, and sitting at the ready on a baking sheet in the refrigerator. Remember, you can't grab tart pans from the bottom - you'll poke through the crust.
For the Poached Pears
- 4 c water
- 1 c sugar
- 4 large pears Anjou or Bosc peeled, halved, and cored
For the Almond Custard
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1 vanilla pod or 1 - 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 c light cream
- 1/2 c almonds finely chopped
For Optional Garnish
- 1 - 2 T microwaved apricot jam or jelly
- a little powdered sugar
For the Tart Crust
Use a 9-inch tart pan with a removable side. Once the crust is in the pan, put it in the refrigerator to chill while you poach the pears and knock out the custard.
Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 350.
Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 4 cups water and bring to a low boil.
Cook the pears at a low boil until they are tender - about 10 minutes, depending on how ripe the pears are. Keep an eye on them and poke a fork in them periodically. It's better to under than overcook since they will also cook in the oven. Drain them when done and let cool while you make the custard.
Whisk the eggs and 1/2 cup sugar together until they are light yellow. (This is not a time to try and incorporate air into the eggs.) Then whisk in the vanilla bean scrapings, almond extract, and cream. Add the chopped almonds. They will sink to the bottom. That's OK.
Let the mixture sit while you slice and arrange the pears in the tart pan.
Build the Tart - Slice and Arrange the Pears, and add the Custard
Place the poached pears flat side down on a cutting board and thinly slice longways. Arrange them in a concentric circle in the pastry crust. Alternatively, slice them horizontally and fan them out, pointy end in the middle. Or, slice them all about the same thickness and toss them in willy-nilly.
Pour the custard into the tart shell, trying to fill in the spaces between the pears. It will end up covering most of the fruit.
Put the baking sheet with the filled tart pan in the oven and bake for 50 -55 minutes at 350 until the crust is golden brown and the custard is lightly browned and firm.
Remove the tart from the oven and sit it on a wire rack to cool about 10 minutes.
Lift the tart pan (by holding the sides only) and place it on a large family sized can of something. Then slide the side-ring of the tart pan down towards the counter. Carefully place the base of your tart pan on your serving dish. Look at your masterpiece! 😀
For the Optional Glaze
Microwave a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam or jelly and brush it over the top of the tart. The glaze is more for an inviting shine than flavor. Put some powdered sugar in a small wire mesh strainer. Hold the strainer up high over the tart and tap the sides to dust the top of the masterpiece with powdered sugar.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and gently heat in the microwave to you enjoy later.