Pears and almonds are a classic combination, teaming up to delicious effect in this autumn tart. Frangipane is made from almond paste, and it makes a flavorful filling when combined with eggs and butter. This recipe makes one large tart, but you can use individual tart tins if you prefer. Use ripe pears for the best flavor.
|2/3 cup||almond paste|
|3 tablespoons||unsalted butter (softened)|
|1/4 cup||unbleached all-purpose flour|
|1/2 teaspoon||pur almond extract|
|grated zest of 1 lemon|
|Sweet Pastry Dough (enough for 1 crust)|
|6||ripe pears (Barlett, Bosc, or Anjou)|
|2 tablespoons||unsalted butter|
|Whipped cream (as optional garnish)|
|2 cups||unbleached all-purpose flour|
|1 cup||non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)|
|2 tablespoons||ice water|
|1 large||egg (lightly whisked to blend)|
|1 1/2 teaspoons||distilled white vinegar|
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Break the almond paste into small pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor with the sugar. Pulse until the mixture is combined. Add the butter and flour, and process until smooth. Add the eggs, almond extract, and lemon zest, and run machine until the mixture is blended and smooth.
Roll out the pastry dough and fit into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place in the freezer while you prepare the pears.
Peel the pears, then cut each in half lengthwise. Remove cores with a small spoon and discard. Cut each pear crosswise into thin (1/8-inch) slices.
Spread the frangipane in the chilled tart pan. Arrange the pears in the shell in a circular pattern, slightly overlapping the slices.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan over low heat. Add the amaretto and sugar, and cook until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Lightly brush the pears with some of the amaretto butter. Place tart on a sheet tray and bake until the pears are tender and the filling is golden brown and set, about 45 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and brush with the remaining amaretto butter. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.
Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the chilled shortening. Using the back of a fork or a pastry blender, cut the cubes into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a small bowl whisk together the ice water, 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg, and the vinegar. Add this mixture to the flour, and toss with a fork or your fingers until the dough is moist and begins to clump together.
Gather the dough into a ball and cut it in half. Flatten each ball into a disk and wrap them separately in plastic. Refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days) before rolling out. The dough disks may also be frozen, if you wrap them tightly in plastic and then place them in airtight bags. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using.