Pear and Almond (Frangipane) Tart + Video
OMG. This tart. This pear, blueberry, and almond frangipane tart. Buttery, flaky, sweet pie crust, topped with an almond cream, topped with blueberries and pears - like I said, OMG!
Last week I posted coconut cupcakes. Coconut is one of those foods that some people die for and others can't stand. I've found that frangipane is the same way. Frangipane is a cream made with almonds or almond paste, plus a whole lot of other goodness - butter, sugar, eggs, etc. And people either love or hate almond paste.
It's probably a bit unwise to post recipes with contentious ingredients two weeks in a row, but then again, when was I ever wise? All I know is, I LOVE almond paste. I can't quite think of words to describe the taste of it to those of you who've never had it. The only thing that I can really say is that every time I eat it, I think of pistachio ice cream. Yes, pistachio ice cream. Almond paste tastes like pistachio ice cream. Hence, almond cream, or frangipane, which has a base of almond paste, takes like a more buttery and creamy pistachio ice cream. Um, YUM?!
It looks quite fancy too, no? But don't run away yet - watch this video first and maybe it won't look so intimidating anymore:
Or, watch it on Youtube.
A tart crust differs from a pie crust in the fact that a tart crust is usually sweeter, and has more of a firm, crumbly, rich, cookie-like texture rather than a crispy, flaky texture like a pie does. A tart is also usually more shallow and has less filling than a pie. Just think of the difference between a pie pan and a tart pan. Pie pans are deeper, with space for more filling (like apples). Tart pans are more shallow, and are usually filled with a cream (like frangipane, yay!).
Although I topped my tart here with canned pears and fresh blueberries, you can garnish yours with any of your favorite fruits. You can also simply cover the whole top with blueberries - it's a lot less work, and really, who doesn't like blueberries?! I definitely prefer the taste of the blueberries to the pears on my tart, because the flavor bomb of sweet mixed with tart that occurs when a blueberry explodes in your mouth is oh-so-enjoyable. But pears give this tart a more extravagant look, and I'm all about extravagance on this blog - not. But it really does look pretty with this pear design. If you haven't watched the video yet, please do. You'll see how easy it is to decorate the tart the way I did in the pictures.
Just remember - pistachio ice cream. This tart tastes like pistachio ice cream on steroids. Imagine eating a pistachio ice cream cone that also had bits of a perfect sugar cookie-like crust and tart fruits mixed in with it. Make this pie and you won't just be dreaming about it anymore. You'll be living your dreams.
pear and almond (frangipane) tart
Yield: 9, 10, or 11-inch tart pan
2 3/4 cups flour (all purpose or cake/pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Almond Cream (Frangipane):
8 oz. almond paste
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick (4 oz.) butter
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 canned or poached pear halves (about 1 1/2 cans)
1 container (6-8 oz.) blueberries
Apricot jam/preserves + a few teaspoons of water
Crust: In a food processor or large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse/stir. Add in the cubed butter and pulse or crumble with hands until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
Add in the vanilla extract and eggs. Mix and knead till you form a dough.
Wrap dough in plastic, flatten, and freeze for 25-30 minutes, until it's cold and hardened.
Unwrap dough and work it with your hands to soften it slightly. Flour your surface and the top of the dough.
Roll out dough gently with a rolling pin to a bit less than a 1/4 " thickness, flouring as necessary. Roll dough onto rolling pin and unroll into the tart pan. Lift up the excess dough/overhang while pressing the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart pan so you don't stretch out the dough. Roll your rolling pin over the pan to cut off the hanging dough.
Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling.
Almond Cream (Frangipane): Cream the almond paste and sugar in a machine with a paddle attachment.
Add in the butter, a little at a time,, and cream until incorporated and you have a minimal amount of almond paste pieces/chunks left. It's okay if you still have a few chunks. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add in the flour and mix. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until fluffy and light.
Remove the crust from the fridge and spread the almond filling into the pan evenly. Place back into fridge.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Fruit: For the pears, slice each half thinly, scoop it onto your knife, and spread the slices to fan them. Place into tart, with the wider part touching the edge of the pan. Your tart will probably need 7 pear fans. Fill the empty spaces with blueberries. (Or, use any fruit you desire and decorate in any way you want).
Bake the tart for 40-55 minutes, till golden brown. Brush fruit with glaze after the tart is cooled slightly. To make the glaze, place the apricot jam and water in the microwave or in a small pot and stir till warm and runny.
On a completely unrelated note, always: