How do I love pears? Let me count the ways. Eating them plucked freshly from a tree, poached in a savory sauce, sautéed with a sweet syrupy glaze, juiced and smoothie style; simmered for a preserve or paired with pork. I love them grilled and tossed into a salad, coal oven roasted atop of a pizza, but the most delicious way to eat them are baked within a tart – today’s recipe.
I must confess… as this summer approaches I am patiently awaiting for my in-laws pear tree to begin bearing this luscious juicy fruit.
I’m passionate about all fruit, well, because you can do so much with it. Blending this incredible edible treat into a an array of recipes or on its own, either way they are pure goodness. They even make beautiful center pieces and still life for paintings, like the one below. To me nothing compares to the flavors of fresh fruit, while eating it has me reminiscent of lazy summer afternoons, filled with sunshine, picnics and beach getaways.
This is my first attempt at any kind of frangipane, so I’m using a ready-made pastry shell, until I’m better acquainted with tart shells. My fear of a shrinking tart outweighed my confidence at making one from scratch, coupled with the fact that time was not on my side this day. In an effort to please every sweet palate, I was also baking for little people visiting us … vanilla on vanilla cupcakes would surely make them happy.
When I do have the courage to attempt my very own tart shell, I will be seeking the guidance from the lovely and witty Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen and her take on Pear and Almond Tart. Her adaptation of a sweet tart recipe gives me the confidence I’m hoping for – fingers, toes, legs and eyes crossed.
Pear & Almond Frangipane:
6 whole Anjou Or Bosc Pears
½ sticks Butter
4 Tablespoons Sugar
1 cup White Wine
½ cups Golden Syrup (Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Bean Paste
Almond Frangipane: Adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook
1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), softened
1 large egg room temperature
1 large egg yolk room temperature
2 teaspoons all -purpose flour
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon salt
For pears preheat oven 425 F. Slice off the bottom of each pear just enough so it will stand upright. Peel the entire pear leaving the stem intact and skin at the top; pat dry with a paper towel. Rub butter over the peeled part of the pear; stand the pears in a small baking dish and sprinkle generously with sugar.
Pour wine into baking dish, add golden syrup (you may substitute golden syrup with 1/4 cup honey or 1/4 cup maple syrup or 1/4 cup Karo syrup); add vanilla bean paste. Bake until pears are soft when pierced with a knife and well browned, about 45 minutes; using a spoon, baste the pears occasionally with baking juices, adding water as needed to prevent evaporation. You can make the pears a few days in advanced, 2 to 3 at most.
For the almond frangipane preheat oven to 375F. Finely grind the almond with 3 tablespoons cup sugar in food processor. Add butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar to a mixing bowl in an electric mixer; cream on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and the yolk, mixing for 2 minutes. Add the almond mixture, flour, vanilla seeds and salt, mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. You can make the almond filling up to 2 to 3 days in advanced, be sure to refrigerated in airtight container.
Cover the bottom of tart shell with the almond filling spreading evenly, fill the tart shell almost to the top, 3/4 full. Remove poached pears from baking dish and drain the excess liquid by patting dry with a paper towel, this prevents the almond frangipane from getting to soggy. Cut each pear in half, scoop out core and remove all seeds, continue cutting into 1/2 inch thick slices crosswise. Arrange sliced pears in circular layers until the tart is completely covered with pears.
Preheat oven at 350F. Bake in the center of oven on a baking sheet until golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
This was pure goodness, not a single crumb remained, well, because I licked the bottom of the pan!
All that is left is this lovely quote:
“It is, in my view, the duty of an apple to be crisp and crunchable, but a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption.” ~ Edward Bunyard, ‘The Anatomy of Dessert’