In my mind, nothing comes close to the beauty of a pear. A plate of pears rivals any floral bouquet, as far as I'm concerned. And this time of year, there are always pears in my house. I chose to go sweet in the kitchen with this pear tart. Pears and almonds are a match made in heaven. The chocolate is an added bonus. And, when I'm not baking with pears, they go into salads for our evening meals.
PEAR TART with CHOCOLATE and ALMONDS
• 1 partially baked 9-inch almond tart shell, cooled (recipe follows)
• 2 large eggs
• 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
• 1 cup half & half
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 tablespoons blanched almonds
• 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
• 3 organic Bartlet pears, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise and cored with a melon-baller or small spoon
• Toasted, sliced almonds for sprinkling, if desired
Preheat oven to 325˚F.
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the half & half and the vanilla. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, finely grind the almonds with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Spoon the ground almond mixture evenly over the top of the partially baked tart shell; sprinkle the grated bittersweet chocolate over the almonds.
3. Take a pear half and using a sharp knife, make thin slices across the width of the pear, keeping the shape of the pear intact. (See photo above). Once the pear is entirely sliced, gently press on the pear to slightly spread the slices apart. Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the pear half to the tart shell and lay atop the almond and chocolate mixture with the stem end of the pear pointing to the center of the tart. Repeat with the other pear halves, placing the sliced pears to create a spoke pattern.
4. Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet and then, very slowly, begin pouring the reserved egg mixture onto the pears. Pour in just enough so it is easily transported to the middle rack of the oven. Once inside the oven you can add a little more of the egg custard. After about 5 minutes of baking, I will very carefully add as much of the remaining custard as I can to the tart shell.
5. Bake the tart for approximately 45-50 minutes. If, within the last 5 minutes of baking, the custard still has no color to it, increase the oven temperature to 350˚ and watch closely at this point. Remove to a cooling rack when custard just begins to turn golden.
6. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds if desired.
ALMOND TART PASTRY
• 2 tablespoons blanched or sliced almonds
• 1 cup unbleached flour
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 5 1/3 tablespoons COLD unsalted butter, cubed
• 3 tablespoons ice water
1. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine.
2. Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture and pulse briefly, just until small pieces of the butter remain.
3. Slowly add the ice water while pulsing, until the dough just begins to come together. Do not over process.
4. Empty the tart dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, flatten and wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
5. Remove from refrigerator and roll dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan; trim edge. Place lined tart pan in freezer while preheating oven.
6. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line the tart shell with foil and beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and continue to bake until pastry just begins to turn golden. Remove and let cool.