Pear Almond Tart

In the Upper Midwest, October is ordinarily a cold, rainy month with the occasional dusting of snow. It marks a change in seasons. We wrap ourselves in sweaters and scarves because the descending temperatures feel unfamiliar and we need more time to adjust. We turn on the heat, make our first pots of stew, and settle into a slower pace of living. This year, however, autumn has been mild. The sun is warm, the grass is green, and an inviting breeze sends promises of leisure and relaxation. Instead of spending my time in the kitchen, I am going to head outdoors and enjoy this fleeting spell of warmth.

Talk soon, dear friends.

Autumn holds the best flavorsthe warmth of cinnamon, the spice of nutmeg, and the sweetness of winter squash. Even though this Pear Almond Tart does not incorporate any of these traditional flavors, it belongs in no other season. A version of this dessert has been on my mind since the beginning of summer, but I waited patiently until the timing was right. The pears are sweet, the crust is tender, and the almond filling has a rich, toasted quality.

Oh, and one piece is never enough.

The Pear Almond Tart allows this subtle fruit to take on a starring role. A tart crust is filled with a buttery almond filling and halved ripe pears. After baking, the almond takes on a toasted flavor and the pears soften, but keep their form. This dessert is a departure away from pumpkin and apples, but the trip is well worthwhile. 

One Year Ago: Boiled Cider and Pumpkin Molasses Bread
Two Years Ago: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Bread, Triple Coconut Cookies, Caramel Apple Granola, Chewy Vanilla Bean Bars, and Chai Spiced Rice Pudding
Four Years Ago: Pumpkin Granola, Chocolate Cherry Bread, Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Oatmeal Raisin Crisps
Five Years Ago: Banana Bread, Maple Roasted Bananas, Berry Crumble, and Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

Pear Almond Tart

Yields 9-inch tart (6-12 servings)

Tart Dough
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (113 grams) butter, cold
1 large egg, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons (50 grams) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups (160 grams) almond flour
3 ripe bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cube the butter and add it to the dry ingredients by rubbing it between your fingers until the dough resembles coarse sand. Add the lightly whisked egg and vanilla extract, folding the mixture until the dough comes together with a uniform appearance.

Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, or until cold.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a 9-inch tart pan with parchment.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer into the tart pan, trim the edges, and poke the bottom of the pan with a fork several dozen times to prevent the dough from rising while baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Keep the oven temperature at 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Stir in the almond flour until uniform. Spread the filling evenly into the tart shell with an offset spatula.

Place the pear halves upright in the filling and press down gently. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the almond filling is baked through and appears lightly browned. Cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.