The Pear and Almond Tart, also known as Pear and Frangipane Tart, is a classic French dessert that can be found in nearly every bakery in France. And there’s a reason for that. This tart has a unique charm due to its simplicity in both presentation and flavor.
The Pear & Almond Tart is to France as Hot Chicken is to Nashville.
There’s no denying that almond and pear are a perfect pairing and this dessert showcases just that. An uncomplicated filling of blanched almonds, sugar, and butter are the base for this dessert. And when baked in a buttery tart shell it becomes golden and chewy. It’s basically a homemade almond paste, but better.
Then what’s more elegant than poached pears? Often poached in a sweetened wine mixture and flavored with various spices such as cinnamon, peppercorns, and vanilla, pears truly take on a whole new persona once poached.
This recipe stays true to the classic French dessert while making it a tad bit healthier. (Gasp — I know, why mess with something so undeniably perfect? Well, I’ll tell you. Because it’s still incredibly delicious. And because you can? I don’t know? I don’t have a reason other than you should trust me.) Oh, and it’s this month’s Recipe ReDux theme.
November 2016 Recipe ReDux Theme: Trimming the Table
The holiday baking season is upon us. Time to pull out all the stops. Show us the healthy holiday dessert you will be sharing with family and friends this season.
Instead of poaching the pears in a simple syrup, or a wine and sugar mixture, I decided to use a natural sweetener — 100% apple juice — to cut down on added sugar. If you still want the wine essence, use a combination of 2 cups apple juice and 2 cups sweet wine for the poaching liquid.
Lastly, I swapped the classic, all-purpose flour, tart crust for a 100% whole-wheat version. Still buttery and flaky, this whole-wheat tart crust adds a welcomed toasty oat flavor to the elegant dessert.
Plus, these individual tarts are basically portion control…right?
Anyway, whether you are looking for a healthier dessert or not, this is a great choice for the season. And although it takes some time to put together, it’s mostly hand off, which gives you that much more reason to make it for the holidays.
Elegant and delicious, it just doesn’t get much better than this.
4 cups 100% apple juice
4 large strips lemon peel
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon table salt
3 Bosc pears, halved, cored, and peeled
Whole-Wheat Tart Crust:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon whole milk
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
1¼ cup + 2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces and chilled
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon whole-wheat pastry flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 egg white
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto (optional)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup apple jelly (or apricot jam)
For the poached pears, combine apple juice, lemon peel, lemon juice, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, add pears and increase heat to high. Bring liquid back to a simmer then decrease heat to low and cook, covered, until pears are fork-tender, about 10 minutes, turning pears halfway through. Remove from heat, and cool completely in liquid, uncovered.
For the whole-wheat tart crust, whisk together egg yolk, milk, and ½ teaspoon almond extract. Pulse 1¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, confectioner’s sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor to combine, about 5 pulses.
Sprinkle 8 tablespoons butter over flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 20 pulses. With processor running, add egg and milk mixture and process until dough comes together, 15–20 seconds.
Transfer dough to a work surface, form into a 6-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Can be made up to 1 month ahead and frozen. Double wrap disk with plastic wrap before freezing. Let thaw 24 hours in refrigerator before using.)
For the almond filling, pulse almonds, granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor until as finely ground as possible. Add egg, egg white, ½ teaspoon almond extract, vanilla extract, and amaretto, process to combine, about 10 seconds.
Add 6 tablespoons butter and process until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour. (Can be made up to 2 days in advance, keep refrigerated.)
Remove tart dough from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 5–10 minutes until workable.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch circle, lifting and rotating occasionally to free from surface. Cut dough into 4 even squares, then transfer squares to four, 4½-inch diameter, mini tart pans with removable bottoms. Gently press dough into pans and up fluted sides, patch any holes or rips in dough. Trim overhang by running a rolling pin over each tart pan. Transfer dough-lined tart pans to a baking sheet and freeze at least 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 375°. Lightly spray four 6-inch square pieces of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Fit foil pieces, greased side down, tightly against each frozen tart shell, letting excess hang over sides. Fill foil-lined tart shells with dried beans or pie weights and bake until crusts are set and just starting to brown, 25 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake crusts until dry and golden brown, another 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Remove almond filling from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Line a plate or tray with paper towels, remove pears from poaching liquid and transfer to paper-towel-lined plate, pat dry with additional paper towels. Transfer pears to a cutting board and cut, lengthwise, into ¼-inch-thick slices.
Divide almond filling among cooled tart shells (heaping ¼ cup per tart) and spread into an even layer. Arrange pear slices on top of filling in a fan-like design, allowing slices to partially overlap. Bake tarts until filling is firm to the touch and crusts are deep golden brown, 40–45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring jelly to a boil, stirring to remove lumps. Remove from heat and brush glaze on pears with a pastry brush.
If desired, dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.