Saturday, August 27, 2011
I remember the first time I made this several years ago. Not only was the presentation with the fanned out pears impressive, but the taste was to die for. It made the rest of the meal (whatever that was) pale in comparison.
Here's a hint: If you want to skip the the poaching step, buy some good canned pears or do as I do and put up your own specifically for this dessert. However you choose to do it, give this wonderful French classic a go.
This is, yet again, one of those desserts that will impress your guest(s)!
Pear Almond Tart
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 medium-size ripe but firm pears. (about 1 pound 5 ounces)
1/2 cup powdered (icing) sugar
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds (toasted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups regular flour
2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds (toasted or alternatively, you may add
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract at the same time the egg is added.)
1 tablespoon regular flour
7 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
Powdered sugar (icing sugar) (optional)
Bring four cups water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Pulse powdered sugar, almonds and salt in food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and blend until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Mix in egg yolk. Add flour. Pulse until dough comes together. Remove, flatten into as disk and chill at lea 3 hours.
For almond filling:
Finely grind almonds and flour in a food processor. Mix in 7 tablespoons sugar, the butter, blending until smooth. Mix in egg. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375F. Roll out chilled dough on lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round. Lift dough into 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim to 1/2-inch folding overhand in to make double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with a fork and freeze for 10 minutes.
Line crust with buttered foil (buttered side down) and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans and bake until crust is golden and bottom is set pressing back any bubbles that may form on the bottom about 10 more minutes. Remove and cool on rack.
Reduce temperature to 350°F. Spread almond filling evenly in the crust. Stem, halve and core pears. Cut each into thin slices crosswise. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide a spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of a wheel with narrow ends in center.
Bake for about 55 minutes or until a wooden skewer or toothpick comes out clean when tested in the center. Cool on rack and remove. Serve wedges with powdered sugar if desired.
On the other end of the spectrum is the dead easy category. But that does not diminish the beauty of this simple and straightforward dessert. Simple in execution and delicious in taste, this Italian Pear Torte is the perfect everyday dessert on the one hand and still nice enough to serve company for a casual luncheon or afternoon tea.
Italian Pear Torte
1/4 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups regular flour
2 pounds fresh pears
9-inch round cake pan
Butter for greasing pan and dotting cake
1/2 cup dry, unflavored bread crumbs
Place baking rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F
Beat eggs and milk together in a bowl. Add sugar and a tiny pinch of salt and continue beating. Add flour and mix to produce a compact cake batter.
Peel, halve and core pears and cut into thin slices and add to batter distributing evenly.
Generously butter cake pan and sprinkle with bread crumbs tapping out any excess.
Pour batter into prepared pan and level off with a spoon or offset spatula.
Make numerous indentations in the batter with your finger and fill with little pieces of butter.
Bake for 50 minutes or until top has colored lightly.
Loosen from pan after awhile and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.