There's only one word to describe it when I took the first bite, Wow! Second bite, Mmmm..... , Third Bite, Mmmm......... It was mmmm....... all the way to the last bite, then I reached out for the second piece! This is the most delicious tart I have ever tasted! The bottom layer, which is the sweet dough, is so delicate and when you bite into it, its texture is tender and crumbly soft, with a buttery taste and sweetness from the sugar, all blended into one delicious crust. The center layer is the almond cream which is made from ground almonds, butter, sugar, egg and some flour. The top layer is the pear, either canned, poach your own or you can use fresh ripe pear as it is.
One slice is not enough!
The instructions for the dough and the pear tart may seem long and tedious, but it is actually quite easy to do. The only thing that is difficult to handle is the dough pastry, it is so soft and sticky, which makes it difficult to press onto the tart pan. I guess that it takes a lot of practice to master this step. I use a 8 inch tart pan since I am not confident that I can fit all of the dough into a 9 inch pan. The rest of the instructions are really simple and easy to follow. The steps may seem lengthy, if you chose to use canned pear, then just follow the steps for canned pear. Ms. Dorie Greenspan has included three options for choices of pear that can be used successfully. Just pick the one most suitable for you. I'm lazy, I go for the canned pears.
The dough is ready to be baked.
Can you see the side where the crust has broken? It happened when I lifted off the aluminium foil from the crust. So be extra careful not to press the aluminium foil too tight against the crust before baking.
The lovely tart is then brushed with some apricot gel after it has cooled.
The smell is so mouth-watering!
My kids love this pear tart! My daughter has requested me to make this again next week! Looks like I have to make a double batch of the dough and freeze it. This is truly a French classic tart. If you eat a slice of it by holding it in your hand and just bite into it, then the delicate, tender crumbs will only melt in your mouth, if you use a spoon to break a piece, then part of the crumbs will be on your plate! So, use your hands instead, why waste all the delicious crumbs, they should be in your mouth and not on your plate, and besides, you will have a plate and a spoon less to clean!
Now for the recipes, since this calls for two separate recipes, I have posted it separately, otherwise this posting will be very long. For the crust recipe, please click Sweet Tart Dough, and it will lead you to a journey of the most delicate, tender, crumbly delicious crust!
French Pear Tart
(adapted from "Baking From My Home To Yours" by Dorie Greenspan)For the Pears
6 canned pear halves, drained, or 3 ripe but firm medium pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou
For Poaching The Fresh Pears (Optional)
4 cups water
1-1/4 cups sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Fresh lemon juice (if using unpoached fresh pears)
For The Almond Cream
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar (I reduced 2 tablespoons)
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg
2 teaspoon dark rum or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 9-inch shell made with Sweet Tart Dough or Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts, partially baked and cooled.
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting, or 1/4 cup apple jelly mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water, for glazing.
TO POACH THE PEARS : Peel the pears and leave them whole. Bring the water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a saucepan just large enough to hold the pears. Add the pears to the boiling syrup, lower the heat so the syrup simmers and gently poach the pears until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.
Cool the pears to room temperature in the syrup. When you are ready to use the pears, discard the syrup. (If you want, you can refrigerate the syrup for up to 1 week and use it to poach another batch of pears).
TO MAKE THE ALMOND CREAM : Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the ground almonds and process until well blended. Add the flour and cornstarch and process to blend, then add the eggs. Process for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is homogeneous. Add the rum and process just to blend. (If you prefer, you can make the cream with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer). You can either use the almond cream immediately or scrape it into a container and refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours. (The cream can be refrigerted for up to 2 days or packed airtight and frozen up to 2 months; defrost before using).
GETTING READY TO BAKE : Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
If you are using unpoached fresh pears, peel them now. Cut the poached or unpoached fresh pears in half from blossom to stem and core them. Rub the unpoached pears with lemon juice. Pat the fresh or canned pears dry so that their liquied won't keep the almond cream from setting.
Fill the baked crust with the almond cream, spreading it evenly with an offset metal icing spatula. Thinly slice each pear half crosswise. Lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly and place it over the almond cream, wide end toward the edge of the crust. The 6 halves will form spokes. Put the tart on the baking sheet.
Bake the tart for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the almond cream puffs up around the pears and browns. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature before removing the sides of the pan.
Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioners' sugar or warm the apple jelly with the water and brush this glaze over the surface of the tart.