Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping

For this incredibly tasty tart, flavorful Bosc and D’Anjou pears are caramelized together in butter and sugar, kissed with Amaretto, set into a Pâte Sablée crust and topped with a crispy almond topping. YUM!!!

Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping

  • Servings: 8
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Pâte Sablée Crust (Sweet Tart Dough)
1-1/2 cups (204 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
9 T (128 g) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Place the flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to blend. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in (to roughly the size of peas). Stir in the yolk in pulses and then process in longer pulses, 10 seconds each or so, until the dough reaches a clumpy consistency.

Turn the dough onto a work surface and use the heel of your hand to smear the dough more fully together.

Shape the dough into a disk and set it between two large sheets of parchment or wax paper. Roll the dough out into a circle that is at least 2 inches larger than the base of your tart pan. The dough will be 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick, but it’s the diameter, not the thickness, that counts. (This dough is easily patched up so don’t worry if it tears).

Slide the rolled out dough (still between the papers) onto a cutting board and refrigerate for two hours or freeze for one hour. You can also freeze it overnight or for several days, but make sure it is wrapped air tight first.

Once thoroughly chilled, let the dough rest on the counter to become a little more pliable.

Butter your tart pan (the kind with a removable bottom is ideal) with unsalted butter. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan, working lightly to preserve the crust’s shortbread texture. Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes (preferably longer) before baking.

The buttered foil should fit snugly
After baking and removing the foil

Also butter a piece of foil (shiny side) and fit it snugly into the crust.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the crust for 22 minutes and then carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Transfer the crust to a cooling rack but keep it in its pan.

Pear Filling
6 ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored and sliced (A mix of Bosc and D’Anjou is wonderful for the balance of texture and flavor. I bought them a week ahead and left them in a cool pantry in a brown paper bag)
3 T (43 g) unsalted butter
2-1/2 T (31 g) sugar
2 T Amaretto liqueur (or if you prefer to flame your pears at the end, it’s great with brandy, rum or bourbon)

Split the butter between TWO medium skillets and place the pans over medium to medium high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, add half the pears to each. Let them cook until they start to caramelize and soften.

Splitting them up into two pans helps them caramelize better
All those browned bits are important to scoop out at the end

Sprinkle the sugar over the pears and stir a few minutes more. If you’re using the Amaretto (an almond flavored liqueur), pour it over the fruit and allow it to warm. If using a liquor (to flame it), pour it in, turn off the heat, and set a match to the pan to flame the alcohol.

Rum, Brandy and Bourbon are ideal for flaming; the alcohol will burn off quickly
Scrape the pears into the crust and jostle them to make an even layer

Almond Topping
2/3 cup (80 g) powdered sugar
2 large egg whites
1 cup (85 g) sliced almonds (blanched or unblanched)

Place the powdered sugar in a wide bowl and pour the egg whites over it. Use your fingers (or a fork if you must, but fingers are more fun) to moisten the sugar with the whites. Add the almonds and toss until thoroughly coated with the sweet mixture. Leave the bowl on the counter while you prepare the filling.

Once the filling is ready (and spooned into the crust), spoon the topping (it will be thick and sticky) over the pears, patting it down gently in an even layer all the way to the edges of the crust.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the tart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. If you have a pie crust protector, use that around the edges (or make your own with foil strips).

Bake the tart until the topping is golden brown all over and the nuts are shiny, about 20 minutes. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature.

After it has cooled, generously dust the tart with powdered sugar before serving.

Pears and almonds: true love
Delicious with chantilly cream (whipped cream with a little vanilla)

Adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan.

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