An easy yet elegant dessert that combines the best of winter’s pears with the wonderful taste and texture of sweet almond paste.
Normally I serve poached pears with spiced syrup and cream or ice cream, but I do love a tart! This one is fantastic for a dinner party because it can be prepared in stages, so you’re not tied to doing one thing for hours on end. And I love it because my kids aren’t hugely into nut-centred desserts, so dinner parties are an excuse for me to use frangipane 😉
Makes 1 x 30cm (12″) tart
Pastry: 10 minutes blind baking
Pears: 10 minutes prep, 20 minutes cooking, plus cooling
Frangipane: 10 minutes prep, 1 hour chilling
Tart: 5 minutes assembly, 50 minutes baking
Can be served warm, room temp or chilled
Pâte brisée / short crust pastry
I used store-bought, but homemade would be great, if you’re into that!
Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5, and butter a 30m (12″) tart dish.
Line the dish with the pastry, prick all over the bottom with a fork, line the pastry with baking paper and fill with dry rice or beans, or pie weights.
Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes, then remove weights and paper and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the elements for the filling.
6 firm, ripe Bosc (or other firm) pears
200g (1 cup) granulated (white) sugar
700ml (3 cups) water
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
Peel, quarter and core the pears.
In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, water and vanilla bean, and stir gently over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. It should be steaming but not bubbling.
Add the pears and simmer until cooked through, 15 – 25 minutes, depending on the variety and ripeness of the pears.
Remove pears from saucepan with a slotted spoon, place on a wire rack covered with paper towels and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, halve the pieces lengthwise.
115g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
125g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g (1 1/4 cups) ground almonds
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating until well combined, then add the vanilla extract and combine.
Stir in the ground almonds, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it has firmed up a bit, about 1 hour.
Assembly & baking
3 – 4 Tbsp pear/apple/apricot jam for brushing
Preheat oven to 170°C / 340°F / Gas Mark 4.
Arrange the pears over the pastry in the tart pan (depending on the size of your pears, it should cover the base pretty snugly), then dollop and spread the frangipane over the top, being sure to fill the gaps and cover the pears as best you can.
Bake in centre of oven for about 50 minutes, until deep golden.
Just before the tart has finished baking, heat the jam in the microwave.
Remove the tart from the oven to a wire rack, and immediately glaze the hot tart with the hot jam with a silicon or pastry brush.
Allow to cool to preferred serving temperature.