September is pear season here in Washington State and there are a lot of different kinds of ‘just picked’ pears in the markets so today I am baking a Pear Frangipane Tart.
I was looking through my Time Life Foods of the World cook book on Classic French Cooking and saw a recipe entitled ‘Poires Bourdloue” which means Pear Frangipane Tart. That sounded strange to me as I associated the word frangipane with a flower that grows in Hawaii and the Philippines, except it was also called plumeria and it was a beautiful, fragrant flower.
What is a Frangipane Tart?
A frangipane tart is an old recipe from France. It is made with a sweet, rich pastry crust called pate sucree and it has a cream custard, flavored with almonds or pistachios. In some of the original recipes, only the crust gets baked. Later fruit topping was poached and placed on top of the cooled custard filling.
A more modern version of a frangipane tart has the same type of sweetened crust but the filling is different. The filling is made of sugar, eggs, butter, flour, ground almonds and almond paste. That nutty filling is spread inside the pre-baked pastry crust and then it is topped with fruit and baked.
The recipe in the Time Life Classic French Cookbook has the original custard-type filling. However, have chosen to use the more modern version of a recipe that we adapted from Use Real Butter.
Most frangipane tarts have a fruit topping and it can be made with poached or raw fresh fruit or a canned fruit. For this Pear Frangipane Tart, we chose to use fresh ruby-red D’Anjou pears. Instead of poaching the pears we sliced them thinly and baked them in the oven.
Making the shortbread crust:
The shortbread crust was easy to put together. I used a 11” tart pan with a removable bottom. I did a blind-bake with my pie weights before transferring it to the oven to bake.
While the crust was cooling I prepared the filling of almond paste, eggs, flour, butter and ground almonds. Once the crust cooled down, I spread the rich filling inside the crust.
Preventing the pears from browning:
Pears will oxidize and turn brown rather quickly when cut and exposed to the air. To prevent that from happening, I set up a shallow bowl of cold water with the juice from a lemon. The slices of pears stayed nice and white in the lemony water. It is the acid in the lemon that keeps the pears from turning brown.
Since I wanted the beautiful red skin showing, I did not peel the pears. I used my kitchen mandolin, set at 3/16 of an inch thick to slice the pears and placed each slice into the lemon water. I did not blanch or cook the pear slices and when they were all sliced and in the water I removed them and placed each one on a kitchen towel and blotted them dry.
Finishing the pear frangipane tart:
After spreading the filling into the cooled tart shell the fun part began. I selected the prettiest and most uniform slices of pears and arranged them in a flower pattern on top of the filling. Next, I transferred the baking sheet with the tart to the oven and baked it for 30 minutes. When the tart finished baking, I removed it from the oven while it was still on the baking sheet.
Keeping it on the baking sheet will prevent the bottom of the tart pan from breaking away from the rim. It gives you something sturdy to hold on to.
If you choose to use confectioners sugar to dust the tart, you should wait until it is time to serve because the sugar dissolves quickly. I have a small supply of a special sugar and since it is pricey, I hoard it. It is Non-Melting Topping Sugar . It is just an optional item but fun to use. I dusted the sugar lightly over the top of the tart and it did not dissolve even after sitting in the refrigerator overnight.
This pear frangipane tart is a stunning presentation for a special dinner. You can serve it either warm or cold with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
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- FOR THE CRUST
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 12 tablespoons butter (1-1/2 sticks)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon whipping cream
- FRANGIPANE FILLING:
- 8 ounces of almond paste
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
- 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 2 large eggs
- FOR THE PEARS:
- 2 quarts cold water
- Juice of one lemon
- 5 pears, sliced 1/8-inch thick
For the crust:
- Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and whipping cream to the dry ingredients. Pulse until it resembles wet sand.
- Place the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the plastic, gather the dough into a ball and press it together into a disc. Wrap with the plastic and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Press the dough into a 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and lightly pierce the surface, including the sides, with a fork. Place the tart pan in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the frozen crust for a blind-bake by using parchment paper and pie weights/beans. Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, transfer from the oven and remove the pie weights and parchment paper, return the tart to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown. Let it cool until ready to use.
To make the frangipane filling:
- With a paddle attachment, beat the almond paste, butter, confectioner’s sugar, flour, and ground almonds in a mixing bowl until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Spread the frangipane filling evenly over the cooled baked crust, smoothing the top and set aside while you prepare the pears.
Prepare the pears:
- In a shallow bowl or pan, add 2 quarts of cold water and the juice from 1 lemon. Wash and dry the pears and slice them lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices. adding the slices to the lemon water as you slice them. After all the pears are sliced and in the water, remove them and place them on a clean kitchen towel and blot the excess water off.
Assemble the tart:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the fruit slices in an overlapping pattern on the frangipane. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the frangipane is bubbling and the filling is firm.
- If you want to glaze the tart, heat 1/2 cup of apple jelly until melted, then brush the glaze over the tart. Or, you can dust with confectioner’s sugar when the tart has cooled or just leave the tart as is.
Begin slicing the pear at the side working toward the center, slice out and discardi the center section section with the core.
To remove the core from a whole pear: insert an appetizer spoon or small paring knife at the bottom of the pear and scoop the core out. When adding the slices to the tart overlap the slices to cover the cored portion.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 498Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 322mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 4gSugar: 30gProtein: 7g
Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.