French pear and frangipane tart
I always love pears, whether it’s poached, baked, or just as it is. And this one, is also part of the styling for South China Morning Post, so thanks to Susan for the frangipane recipe, though I’ve adjusted a bit in the amount of sugar to make it little less sweet.
I have some leftover dough from the chocolate truffle cake, thought it would be nice to go with the pear frangipane as opposed to plain sugar dough pastry.
French pear and frangipane tart, caramelized almonds, early grey cream
Recipe for the pear and frangipane tart:
For the chocolate sable tart shell, use the same recipe as for the chestnut-dark chocolate truffle cake:
For the poached pears:
4-5 ripe but firm pears, peeled, halved and cored neatly with a melonballer (William, Barlett, Bosc are the ones I prefer)
500 ml white wine (I used Gewürztraminer this time)
500 ml filtered water
1 vanilla bean pod, halved
peel from 1 orange
peel from 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick, broken into couple pieces
Put all ingredients into a heavy bottom deep saucepan, fit the pear halves neatly into the pan, cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the pan and cover the pears directly. You might want to poke a hole in the center of the parchment paper to let the steam out. And you may also need to place a plate on the parchment to ensure all the pears are submerged. Brought the mixture to a simmer, simmer for another 20 minutes or until the pears are tender, but not too soft and mushy. They should still hold their shape perfectly. You can prepare this poached pears in advance, and leave them in the poaching liquid, but fishing out the citrus peels and cinnamon, other wise, the infused flavor could be too strong and the cinnamon could dye the pale color of the poached pear. I actually prefer to do this the night before making the tart, as I found leaving the pears over night in the poaching liquid would allow all the flavor and aroma penetrating into the pear flesh more beautifully.
For the frangipane filling:
150g sliced almond
150g softened unsalted butter
30g plain flour
1.5 large egg, or 2 small ones
2 tsp. good vanilla bean extract
couple drops of almond extract
little pinch of fine sea salt
Toasted the almond slices (try to spread them out in a thin layer for even browning) at 180C for about 5-7 minutes, keep a close eye on them as they burn fast. Cool the toasted almonds, then use a small food processor to grind them into powders, use on and off mode, you don’t want your almonds turning into paste other than almond meal. If you happen not to have a food processor at home, it’s alright to use store bought almond meal, they’ll work as fine, just you’ll miss that fresh toasty almond aroma by doing it from scratch yourself.
Cream the room temperature butter with the sugar, and salt till pale and creamy, add the eggs, whisk till well combined, it might look a bit curdled at this point, but it’ll be in good shape again after adding the dry ingredients. Tip in the almond powder and sifted flour, mix well with the butter mixture, I like to use a rubber spatula to do the mixing at this point. Then, add the vanilla and almond extract, mix again. Use a offset spatula to spread the frangipane into the blind baked tart shell, smooth out the surface. The frangipane should fill only about less than two thirds of the tart shell capacity, you’ll want to leave room for arranging the pear on top, as well as room for the frangipane batter to puff up in the hot oven.
Now, get your poached pear halves out. Carefully wipe them dry using kitchen paper. One pear half at a time, thinly slice it, and fan it out on top of the prangipane, lightly press it down a bit into the batter. Prepare and arrange the other pear halves in the same manner. I like to arrange my pear halves snugly, and trim a nice one and fit in the center. But you can arrange the pears anyway you want, let be rustic or elegant.
Bake the tart at 190C for about 40-45 minutes, or until the prangipane is nicely puffed up and golden brown. Cool the tart on a cooling rack. Meanwhile, you can make a glaze to brush tart to give it a coat with a sheen. You can definitely make a quick glaze by warming up some apricot jam or apple jelly thinned with tiny bit of water, but why not utilizing the poaching liquid when it’s there already and packed with flavor. Simply reduce down the poaching liquid till it’s syrupy, use a pastry brush to give the baked tart a shiny wash. And that, is something beautiful and delicious.
I made some candied whole almonds, and whipped up some vanilla chantilly to serve the pear frangipane slice– gotta love it!