Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pear & Almond Tart

(Tarte Bourdaloue)
This is a very festive traditional French tart that is delicious when pears are in season. I made it for   Thanksgiving but it is also great for Christmas or New Years.

1 Pillsbury Pie Crust
 6-7 medium size firm but not hard pears (Anjou or Bartlett)
 juice of 1 lemon
 ¾ cups granulated sugar
 1 cup (5 oz of blanched almonds (ground to a fine powder in a food processor or blender)
 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
 2 oz ( ½ stick) of unsalted butter (melted)
 2 tablespoons of dark rum (or cognac or bourbon)
 ¼ teaspoon of almond extract
 1 cup of apricot preserves (or jam)

The pastry can be homemade, but I use the store bought Pillsbury pie crust. I shape it into a greased pie pan with a removable bottom. Once the crust is shaped into the pan, I poke holes with a fork in five or six places and then freeze it for at least 15 minutes but can be as much as a week or two.

Preheat oven to 375F
Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil and fill with dry beans or pie weights if you have them). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes (not on a cookie sheet- directly on the rack or the bottom will not bake properly). Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes until the pastry is lightly colored. Take out of the oven and allow to cool.

 In a small bowl, beat egg and extra yolk and stir in the almond extract, 1 tablespoon of the rum, ½ cup of the granulated sugar, melted butter, and the ground almonds. Set aside and prepare the pears.

Cut the pears in half lengthwise. Peel and core them (Take out the center stem and pits)

Spread the almond cream filling evenly in the baked pastry shell. Place the pear halves flat side down into the cream with the wide side near the edge and the narrow side towards the center. Place a small trimmed round pear or fan some slices to fill the center. Brush some lemon juice over the pears and sprinkle some sugar on the pie. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes and turn down to 350 for another 25-30 minutes.

After the tart has been baking for 30 minutes prepare the glaze by mixing the apricot jam and the other tablespoon of rum in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. About 8-10 minutes before the pie is done, brush the apricot glaze over the pears and the almond cream and return to the oven for three minutes. This will give it the golden brown color.

Cool on a rack and when ready gently slip a knife between the crust and the pan sides to ensure that it is not sticking and place your hand on flatly under the pie allowing the side your slip down your arm. Place the pie with the false bottom on the serving plate for a lovely presentation. 

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