Monday, February 28, 2011

Pear and Amandine Tart






January in France marks the month where everyone is entitled to indulge in the traditional Galette des Rois for thirty days straight (or only one, whatever suits them). Essentially, it is a buttery and flaky pastry crust filled with buttery almond cream. Yes, buttery describes it, and so does delicious. 

After January, you'd think we've had our fair share of creamy almond filling, right?

Think again! Almond cream is quite a versatile creature, transforming itself like a cameleon each time it is paired with a new ingredient. Besides the French king cake, crème amandine has another best friend: pears. Pear and almond tart is a staple in French baking, appropriate for an elegant dinner or a casual afternoon snack--and any excuse for an afternoon snack is a good one in my book.

Setting out to keep almond cream in everyone's mind for the month of February, too, Eleni (you might remember her from our chocolate macaron experiment) and I had dreams of eating a whole pear and almond tart one afternoon. To switch things up, we tried a new tart crust recipe, and kept the rest classic with a cream recipe from Ladurée and Eleni's signature raspberry poached pears.

The dough, well... the dough didn't really live up to our expectations. It was rather crumbly, with an overpowering nuttiness that was distracting and didn't let the pears and almond shine like they should. The rest, however, was pretty amazing. The poached pears were perfectly melt-in-your-mouth, and the almond filling is a great pairing.

As tempting as it may seem, wait until the tart really cools down to get your first bite: we couldn't wait and were disappointed by the first results. Good things come to those who wait... An hour or two later, however, and it was just as good as we could have imagined.

Maybe even worth making all February (or for the day that's left, at least). What's next for March--almond cream turnovers? We'll see...

Pear and Amandine Tart
serves eight

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

for the crust, to be prepared a few hours before baking: recipe here (this is not the recipe we used, but would work out much better and be great with the rest of the ingredients)

Once tart dough is ready to be baked, bake with parchment paper and pie weights until edges of the crust are golden, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.  

for the pears, courtesy of Eleni:
2 large pears (we used the Conference variety and they held up great)
1 c. raspberry liqueur
1 TS lemon juice
2 TS sugar (adjust to the level of sweetness you want)
1/2 TS cinnamon
1/2 TS vanilla
a few drops of almond extract
If you want to make the flavors more subdued, i.e. for a tart like this,  add a little water (1-2 TB).

Bring all ingredients except pears to a simmer.

Peel, cut in half, and core pears. Place flat side down in liquid and cook, spooning mixture on top of pears regularly, until softened yet still firm (a knife inserted into the center of a pear will be a good indicator) for the needs of the tart.

Remove from heat, and when cool enough to handle, slice pears. Set aside to place on filling.

for the filling:
1 c. + 3 TB ground almonds
7 TB butter, softened
3/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 TB cornstarch
2 eggs
1 TB rhum (optional, we didn't use it)

With a wooden spatula, mix softened butter, confectioner's sugar, almond flour. and cornstarch one by one. Add eggs and rhum (if using) and mix thoroughly.

Note: prepare the filling as late as possible, ideally right before baking it for a lighter texture.

Pour filling into tart shell, spread until level. Arrange pears on top of filling in a rose pattern.

Bake until top of the tart is golden, approximately 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.



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10 comments:

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

French sweets are my favourite; particularly those of them involving almonds or pastry. Delicious looking tart! Je l'adore!

Paris Pastry said...

It sounds soooo good! I've been looking for a pear - almond tart recipe for ages. Beautiful tart pan too!

Reeni said...

The combination of pear and almond cream sounds incredibly heavenly! I could eat this every day of January. And February. And the rest of my life.

Eleni said...

The almond paste is so good. I just used it in a different tart today!

Anonymous said...

Lucie, this is one of my favorite dessert. Love the combination of pear and almond...so good. I'll have to try to make it. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Looks fabulous! Have a great week ahead :-)

grace said...

i'm pretty sure that the words 'buttery' and 'delicious' go hand-in-hand in all matters! :)
pears have been overshadowed by apples long enough, wouldn't you say? nice treat!

sweetpeaskitchen.com said...

This tart looks incredible! I bet the pear and almond combination was delicious! :)

Barbara said...

Nothing better than a pear and almond tart, Lucie. You did a super job with it...it's gorgeous and I bet tastes divine.

Kris Ngoei said...

Such a great combination of best recipes! I always love tart, especially one that comes with pear..

Thanks for the treat! It is wonderful :-)

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