NYC has been unusually warm this December, but the brisk cool evenings and particular pine scent that perks up my step each time I pass Soho Christmas Trees, is wilfully getting me in the mood for the holidays. These are the days that I would rather curl up with pie and tea on the couch than hit the town for an evening of debauchery. If ever you have had one of those nights of sinful twilight festivities, making a pear tart is sure to erase all sins... Let's face it, making a perfect pâte brisée is redemption in itself (namely from an un-flaky, soggy pie crust...SIN!)
I had some left-over pâte brisée (short crust pastry) in the freezer from making a pumpkin pie last week for Thanksgiving. I decided to make the perfect pear tart - one that was neither too sugary nor troublesome. I found this recipe at SimplyRecipes.com that was actually quite simple, didn't use a lot of sugar, and had a nice frangipane (almond paste) layer. Frangipane has an interesting history, so it might be worth checking out the "frangipane" link... As my pâte brisée recipe was from Martha Stewart for my pumpkin pie last week, I have included it in the link below, although you could also use the short crust pastry from this pear tart recipe.
Martha Stewart Pâte Brisée Recipe
One butter crust (pâte brisée recipe) SEE SimplyRecipes short crust pastry
1/3 cup almond paste (not marzipan!)
2 tsp sugar
2 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 Tblsp flour
pinch of salt (kosher)
1/2 tsp almond extract (I didn't have almond so I used vanilla which was fine)
3 large Bosc pears
1/4 -1/3 cup apricot jam
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
piece lemon peel
2 Tblsp water or Riesling white wine
- Prepare the pâte brisée crust. Roll it out to a 13-inch circle and press it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (if you don't have a tart pan, a pie plate is just fine.) I didn't have a tart pan so just used a pie plate. Fit the dough into the edges and then trim off the excess dough leaning over the top. Put the crust in the freezer to chill for a half hour. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- For the frangipane beat together the almond paste and sugar to break it apart. Beat in the butter. Mix in the egg, flour, salt, and almond extract and beat until light and fluffy. Don't fret if there are a few little chunks of almond paste. Also, don't worry if it seems like you didn't make enough as the frangipane will rise during baking.
- Peel and core the pears, and then slice them thinly, about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Places the slices in a bowl with the lemon juice to help preserve their colour.
- Spread the frangipane over the bottom of the tart shell. Next, carefully arrange the pear slices in a decorative pattern (they can slightly overlap, but don't build them up in layers or the tart will lack a refined appearance). Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pears take on a bit of colour and the edges of the tart shell are golden brown. I think my oven is on the cool side because I had to bake the pie for a bit longer than the stated time (maybe 40mins). Cool on a wire rack.
- While the tart bakes, place the apricot jam, lemon peel, vanilla extract, and water or Riesling into a small sauce pan and warm over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, constantly stirring. Once it has reduced and thickened take it off the heat and set it aside. Once the tart is out of the oven brush the apricot glaze over the pears. Serve and enjoy!
Don't forget pear tart chic with fur cuffs and a billowy maxi skirt as seen on the streets of Milan...
|Pic courtesy HarpersBazaar.com|