tartlicious tuesday's: french pear tart an easy dessert recipe
Pears. So succulent, pears are favored by many people more than apples in the autumn. Pears are subtle and respectful to not steal the apple’s spotlight. There are red and green pears, but the colors are quieter than the flashy green and reds of apples. Pears are sophisticated, classic. They are not shy; however they wait to be noticed. Patient and nonplussed by the apple’s stardom the pear is a gift from the Gods during the months of cold weather yet to come.
The last tip: any pie crust or tart crust will work with this recipe so if you have some extra dough in your freezer and you are short on time then go ahead and use it. The tart is delicious with any variety of flaky crust.
French Pear Tart
For the pears (original Dorie Greenspan Recipe):
6 canned pear halves OR 3 medium pears, firm but ripe
4 cups water, optional
1 ¼ cups sugar, optional
For the pears (myFudo recipe):
3-4 medium pears (different varieties recommended)
½ bottle white wine (sweet rather than dry)
½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves
½ cup water
For the frangipane (almond cream):
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
¾ cup ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg
2 teaspoons dark rum or 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
For the pears (Dorie Greenspan version): If you are using canned pears, you have nothing to do now. If you are using fresh pears but do not wish to poach them, you have nothing to do now. If you are using fresh pears and want to poach them, peel them and 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.
For the pears (myFudo version): In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring to boil the sugar, wine, lemon and spices. Simmer the liquid while pealing the pears. Add the pealed pears to the liquid and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let cool. When cool enough place pears, covered by the liquid in a bowl, cover and let sit over night. When ready to bake in the tart slice them thinly and layer within the tart or slice as per Dorie Greenspan’s recipe to create a different look.
To make the almond cream: Put the butter and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor and process 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 for about 15 seconds more or until the almond cream is homogeneous. Add the rum or vanilla and process just to blend. If you prefer, you can make the cream in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a rubber spatula. In either case, the ingredients are added in the same order. Scrape the almond cream into a container and either use it immediately or refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours.
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have a lined baking sheet at the ready. If you are using fresh (unpoached) pears, peel them now. If you are using poached or unpoached pears, cut them in half from blossom to stem and core them; rub the unpoached pears with lemon juice. Whatever pears you have, make sure to pat them 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 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 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, slide the sheet into the oven and 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 confectioners’ sugar. If you prefer, prepare a glaze by bringing about 1/4 cup apple jelly and1/2 teaspoon water to the boil. Brush the glaze over the surface of the tart.
SWEET TART DOUGH
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
To make the dough: Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in the workbowl of a 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. Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, 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 knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
If you want to press the dough into a tart pan, now is the time to do it.
If you want to chill the dough and roll it out later, gather the dough into a ball flatten it into a disk, wrap it well and chill it for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.
To make a press-in crust: 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.
To make a rolled-out crust: This dough is very soft – a combination of a substantial amount of butter and the use of confectioners’ sugar – so roll it between wax paper or plastic wrap. Roll the dough out evenly, turning the dough over frequently and lifting the wax paper or plastic wrap often, so that it doesn’t roll into the dough and form creases. If you’ve got time, slide the rolled out dough into the fridge to rest and firm for about 20 minutes before fitting the dough into the buttered tart pan. Trim the excess dough even with the edge of the pan. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 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 crust to a cooling rack; keep it in its pan.