Sunday, April 20, 2008

Feeling a little French...

So I had some VERY ripe pears sitting on my buffet table and mocking me. Now, normally I would devour a red pear before it even reached its peak of freshness. But this week I was tempted by grapefruits and lured by blackberries, so the pears sat there, basking in their glory, defying me. This could not be allowed. I've come across quite a few French inspired posts lately, and it was inspiring me to try some French pastry. Now, normally I would back away and cower in the corner at the thought of meticulous French sweets, but I was feeling particularly brave tonight. Hence, my reinvention of the Pear Frangipane tart (I used up my almonds in a pilaf earlier this week). A mixture of hazelnuts and macadamias make great understudies, adding buttery richness.

Parisian Pear Tart

Almond Pate Sucree

1 cup flour
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, chilled cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 Tbsp chilled ameretto liquor
1 tsp almond extract

Combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter pieces and use quick pulses to incorporate until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and extract and drizzle in 1 Tbsp of liquor. Only add additional liquor if the mixture is not coming together when pulsed. Form dough into a disk and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Roll out dough and transfer to a greased 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press to fit and Line the pie crust with aluminum foil. Fill with dried beans to keep the crust from shrinking. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.


1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted with skins removed
1/2 cup macadamias, toasted
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pulverize first 5 ingredients in the food processor until no chunks of pesky nuts remain. Add egg and extracts and pulse enthusiastically. Refrigerate until tart shell is cool.

Although you can certainly poach the pears, there is no reason or logic to doing so with truly ripe specimens. Peel and slice three beauties and toss them in lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the frangipane evenly in the tart shell. Press the pear slices down into the filling. Use a pie crust shield or aluminum foil to prevent the crust from burning. Bake for 50 minutes, then remove shield and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.

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