The last time I was in Paris I was lucky to have sampled Cedric Grolet’s William Pear tarts, just out of the oven. Smitten, I looked for William pears but the closest pears I could find were baby Bartlett pears. They appear at Whole Foods our my Midwest farmers market around The beginning of October. My almond cream does not have any flour. Never fear, it will set up just fine without it. I find it creamier and lighter than a traditional Frangipane that’s made with flour. Six 4″ partially baked Pate Sablée or Pate Sucrée tart shells (You can use your own recipes or find mine on my pages. You can also use the Pierre Herme recipe which appears in his own books as well as Doris Greenspan’s books. It is my preferred pate sucree recipe at this point in time).
YOU WILL NEED THE FOLLOWING COMPONANTS for six 4 inch tarts:
- 9 fresh Bartlett pears about 2.5”-3” tall
- 1 cup of almond cream
- Six 4” pate sablée or pate sucrée partially baked tart shells (You can use your own recipes or find mine on my pages. You can also use the Pierre Herme recipe which appears in his own books as well as some of Doris Greenspan’s books. It is my preferred pate sucree recipe at this point in time). You need about 370 grams of dough for 6 tart shells. You will have to re roll the scraps. Make sure not to over bake them. They should be firm and pretty blond. They’ll take on quite a bit of color in the oven during the second bake.
- 1/2 cup of sliced almonds for garnish
ALMOND CREAM (Frangipane)
- 82 grams of almond flour or blanched sliced or whole almonds (toasted if you want a stronger flavor)
- 66 grams (1/3 cup) white granulated sugar
- 56 grams (4 Tablespoons) cultured butter softened room temperature.
- 1 large egg and one large egg white, room temperature.
- 1/8 tsp almond extract (if you don’t toast your almonds)
- If using blanched almonds, place in the food processor with the sugar and process until almonds are finely ground. If using almond flour, skip this step.
- Combine almonds, sugar, butter and egg in food processor and process until light and creamy. Add the almond extract if using. This can be refrigerated or used immediately.
- 9 little Bartlett pears about 2.5″-3″ tall with stems on at least 6 of them.
- 2 plump, moist vanilla bean or 1 vanilla bean and 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 2.5 cups water
- 201 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 lemon
- 4 star anise
- 2 tablespoons of pear eau-de-vie
- Combine sugar, water and star anise in a pot that will hold all the pears standing upright. It should be a very snug fit or they’ll topple over. That’s not a tragedy but the necks will overcook a bit if that happens.
- Scrape out vanilla beans and add that to the pot, or the bean and paste, if using paste. Im not a huge fan of the paste as it tends to make things brown and the binder tastes to alcoholic to me.
- Peel the lemon, being careful not to get the bitter pith. Place about 1/2 of the peel in the pot. Juice the lemon and add 6 Tablespoons of juice to the pot.
- Peel the pears and slice off a piece of the bottom so they stand upright. I don’t core them.
5. Pour enough poaching liquid over the pears so that it comes just to the bottom of the neck. Bring to a simmer, cover and turn off the flame. The residual heat will be enough to just cook the pears and covering the pot will cook the slimmer necks.
6. Leave the pot covered and check in 10 minutes. If a skewer goes easily into the bottom of the pear it’s done. If not done, leave them in the liquid a bit longer and check every 5 minutes.
7. One the pears are done, remove the star anise and the pears from the liquid. Quickly cool down the poaching liquid in the freezer.
Once the liquid is cool. Put the pears in an air tight container and pour the poaching liquid over them. If it doesn’t cover the pears add enough water so that it does.
8. Once the liquid is cool put the pears in an air tight container and pour the poaching liquid over them. If it doesn’t cover the pears add enough water so that it does. Place Sara wrap over the pears and press down so that air intrusion is minimized. Put on the container top and refrigerate overnight. This overnight rest will continue to infuse the pears with flavor.
ASSEMBLING THE TART
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pour two tablespoons of the almond cream into each tart shell.
- Take pears out of the poaching liquid, reserving the liquid.
- Blot the pears well with paper towels
- Place tart shells on a parchment lined sheet pan. Place another sheet pan underneath so they are doubled. This should keep the bottoms of the tarts from overcrowding.
- Place one pear with the stem on into each tart shell. Take the remaining pears, quarter, core and cut each quarter into 3 pieces.
- Arrange 4-5 pieces of the cut pear around the whole pear.
- Assess if you need more almond cream in the shells. The cream should come almost to the top of the shells. The ones in the photo above are a bit low.
- Place almond on top of the almond cream.
- Bake about 20 minutes and check the tarts. If the almond cream has risen and browned, they’re ready. If not, bake another 5 minutes.
- While the tarts are cooking, boil the poaching liquid down to about 1/3 of a cup.
- Move tarts immediately to a cooling rack and let cool until just warm.
- Glaze the center pear with the reduced liquid and dust the sides of the tart with powdered sugar.