Makes 1, 8 to 9-inch Tart
Being a militant California chauvinist, (and please do lookup the word. It does not necessarily mean an objectionable male), I am of course, thoroughly convinced that California produces the best of everything. The very best pears I have ever eaten however, were grown in the Loir Valley in France. They were spectacular; and in patisseries all over the Loir you can purchase this delectable pear tart. As much as it hurts to say it, it is not a California creation. Frangipane refers to an almond filling for tarts or an almond flavored custard used to fill tarts.
Perfect Pastry – (remember, you can freeze unused pastry)
Make the pastry and chill. Preheat the oven to 450°. When pastry is well chilled, roll out to be approximately one-quarter inch thick and use to line a nine inch pie or tart pan. Place a piece of bakers parchment in the pie shell and fill the shell with beans or pie weights. Place in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for five minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake for another fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool. Remove the weights or beans and paper.
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
The juice of one lemon
1 piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 or 4 ripe yet still firm perfectly shaped pears (you only need 3 but better have an extra in case you mess one up)
Combine the first five ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and continue cook for about five minutes. Meanwhile, peel the pears, cut them in half and remove the core. Gently slip the pear halves into the liquid and poach for five to ten minutes, or until they are tender enough to be easily pierced with a slim bamboo skewer but still holding their shape. Let them cool in the liquid until room temperature.
8 tablespoons room temperature butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup ground blanched almonds
1/4 cup all-purpose flout
1 tablespoon almond extract
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and continue to blend until smooth. Use a food processor if you have one. You can use the Frangipane immediately or it can be stored in the refrigerator for two or three days. Always allow to come to room temperature before using.
To Assemble the Tart:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the frangipane evenly into the cooled tart shell. It should be soft enough to smooth out on its own so you don’t need to put too much energy into smoothing it.
Set the well drained pears on a flat work surface. Cut each pear half into approximately three eights inch thick slices crosswise. Do not separate the slices yet. Slide a spatula underneath the pear so that you can lift the entire half onto the tart. Slide the pear onto the surface of the tart. Continue with enough more pear halves to form the spokes of a wheel all around the tart,
the narrow end of the pears at the center and the fat ends at the outer edge. Press gently on each pear to slightly fan the slices.
Set the well drained pears on a flat work surface. Cut each pear half into approximately three eights inch thick slices crosswise. Do not separate the slices yet. Slide a spatula underneath the pear so that you can lift the entire half onto the tart. Slide the pear onto the surface of the tart. Continue with enough more pear halves to form the spokes of a wheel all around the tart, the narrow end of the pears at the center and the fat ends at the outer edge. Press gently on each pear to slightly fan the slices.
Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the frangipane is puffed and golden brown. Cool the tat on a wire rack.
||Before serving, you can brush the pears with some warmed apple jelly to glaze them. Serve cold. A dollop of thick cream is a nice addition.