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Decadent Pear Tart



Ok, close your eyes and imagine you are the little mouse in Ratatouille. Now, like in the movie, and let the flavors explode in colors. Tender sweet crust followed by a silky almond cream and velvety caramelized pear to finish. This tart will ignite all your tastebuds. It truly is a show topping dessert.


Don't have pears? You can make this tart with apples, apricots or plums. It's sensational every which way.


I made this tart because I had some overly ripe pears and I just couldn't let the opportunity to make a tart go by. And even though there was nothing to celebrate nor were we expecting company, I decided why not? Alas, this creation was systematically devoured by yours truly. And yes, I've been working out and eating salads for the last week since my dietary tart splurge.


INGREDIENTS


Crust:


1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted chilled butter

2-3 tablespoons chilled water


Frangipane:


1 egg + 1 egg yolk

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 cup milk or half/half

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 almond flour

3 tablespoons kirsch


Topping:


4-5 very ripe pears (or apples, apricots or plums)

1/2 cup apricot jam

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon kirsch


DIRECTIONS


Crust:


In a food processor add your flour. Cut your butter into cubes and add it to the food processor. Add sugar and salt and pulse the ingredients until you get coarse texture. Adding a tablespoon at a time, pulse and add water until the dough starts to get clumpy. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until combined. Wrap dough in plastic film and place in fridge for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, on a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough and place it into your tart shell pan. Using your fingers, gently press the dough so it fits the mold of your tart pan. I recommend wrapping the tart shell with some plastic film and putting it back into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes or so. Turn your oven to 350 degrees, remove the tart shell from the fridge. Using a fork, prick the dough a few times and bake until lightly golden, about 15-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool completely.


Frangipane:


In a saucepan bring milk or half/half to a simmer. While it's heating up, add your egg, egg yolk and sugar into a mixing bowl. Whip them using a handheld mixer until your mixture has a pale yellow color and makes soft ribbons. Now add flour and mix until combined.


Once the milk or half/half is simmering, turn heat off and slowly ladle a little of the hot liquid into your egg mixture while whipping it. This will temper the eggs so they don't curdle. Keep adding ladle after ladle of the hot liquid to your mixture while whipping it until you have incorporated all of it into the egg mixture. Pour the custard into your saucepan and set over medium heat.


Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir your custard making sure you scoop up the corners of the pot. The custard can settle there and may cook and thicken more than the rest, which is certainly not the goal. Within 5-10 minutes you will notice that the mixture will thicken and get lumpy. This is normal. Don't panic. Here you have two options, you can roll up your sleeves and beat the mixture with such vigor that you will most likely break a sweat and build up your triceps. OR, you can take out your lovely handheld mixer and use that. The point is, you need to beat the lumpy custard back into a thick smooth paste. And it will be thick.


Once the paste is lump-free, reduce your heat to low and using a wooden spoon you need to smack the custard around slapping it against the sides of the pot for 2-3 minutes. The point of this is to make sure the flour is fully cooked. Remove from heat.


Add your butter, vanilla, almond extract, almond flour and the kirsch. Mix well and pour your gorgeous thick frangipane into your prepared tart. Smooth it out so it's evenly spread. You may have leftovers of the frangipane. If so, you can keep it in the fridge for a week or freeze it...or eat it like I did, with a spoon.



Topping:


Cut your pears in half. Then remove the stem and seeds. Slice them very thinly trying to keep the halves together. Place the halves on the frangipane so that a little of the frangipane is showing.




Turn your oven to 350 degrees and bake tart until your pears are cooked through and the frangipane that is visible is golden brown. If it doesn't look golden in color, you can use your broiler a bit to encourage the color to form. Remove from the oven to cool slightly.



While the tart is cooling to a warm touch, in a small saucepan, heat the apricot jam, sugar and salt stirring until a candy thermometer reads 220 degrees. Then remove from heat. Add kirsch and stir until combined. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tart with the apricot glaze.


Let the tart completely cool before serving. Any remaining tart should be stored in the fridge.


Enjoy!







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