Christmas may have come and gone, but prime baking season still has another week to go. When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s, obligations of resolutions will take over. Dessert will be out for a few weeks, but then things will swing back to normal. For now, I’m going big on my goodbye to 2017 with a pear almond tart.
Tarts always seem a bit fancy. This one is no exception, but it isn’t that tough to bake. A food processor makes the dough and the almond filing a cinch to whip up. I poached the pears in water with sugar, lemon juice and a cinnamon stick. After slicing the pears into thin segments, I fanned them around the filling before baking the tart.
Pear Almond Tart
Makes one 10-inch tart
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 Bosc pears, peeled
For almond filling
6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
3/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Confectioners’ sugar for serving
For the crust, pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the yolk and vanilla extract and mix until the dough forms. Pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick and large enough to fit a 9-inch diameter tart pan with a removable bottom. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and trim the excess. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the tart shell for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
For the pears, bring the water, lemon juice and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the pears, reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes. Let the pears cool in the syrup. Slice the pears in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stem and cut crosswise into thin slices. Press the pear halves to slightly fan out the slices.
For the almond filling, mix the butter, almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract in a food processor until smooth. Spread the filling into the tart shell. Place the fanned pear slices on top. (It helps to use an offset spatula to keep them together.) Bake 45-50 minutes until the almond filling is set and golden brown. Cool the tart on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.