Pears are autumn’s most underrated and underappreciated fruit. Apples seem to take all of the glory—from apple pies to apple crisps to fried apples, even though pears are incredibly closely related. I too have fallen into the Fall apple-pumpkin trap, as I’m sure you can see with my mini apple tarts and pumpkin pancakes topped with… none other than apples. This is all the more strange since I like pears more than apples. Pears are a mainstay in my breakfast smoothies and salads. I think their flavor is more unique, and they are loaded with much more fiber than apples.
To remedy this imbalance, I decided to make a tart to showcase the oft-overlooked pear. This tart showcases its hippy lines and long neck. The sliced pears are nestled in a bed of fluffy, almond-y frangipane. This tart was inspired by holidays in France, as frangipane is found in many French pastries, particularly around the holidays. Making frangipane is incredibly simple. You combine almond paste, sugar, eggs, flour and salt. I added a tablespoon of rum because I’ve found that rum helps accentuate both the almonds and the fruit. Also, almond paste can surprisingly be found at most grocers—I purchased some at Whole Foods.
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour 1 tablespoon granulated sugar ½ teaspoon salt 1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter (10 tablespoons), cut into one-inch pieces 3-4 tablespoons ice-cold water
1/3 cup almond paste 2 teaspoons granulated sugar 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1 tablespoon flour 1 large egg ¼ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon rum 2 large + 1 small bosc pear demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Prepare the crust. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter-flour mixture resembles small peas (about 25 short pulses). Sprinkle the water in and continue pulsing until the dough starts to come together. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it a few times, and then shape into a round disc. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Once the dough has chilled for at least two hours, place it on a lightly floured countertop and roll it into a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 10-inch tart pan and press it in. Return the dough to the refrigerator while you are preparing the rest of the tart.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare the frangipane. Combine the almond paste and two teaspoons of sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until combined. Beat in the butter. Add the flour, egg, salt and rum and beat until smooth.
Cut each pear in half. Using a melon baller, scoop out the core. Thinly slice each pear half in 1/8” slices.
Spread the frangipane over the chilled tart dough. Carefully arrange the pear slices until they fit in the tart pan (I used 3 large halves and 1 small half). Sprinkle generously with the demerara sugar.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the pears are soft and cooked through, and any frangipane peaking through the top begins to brown.
Remove from the oven and allow the tart to cool in the pan for ten minutes. Then, carefully remove the tart from the pan. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.