Pear & Honey Custard Tarts

YIELD: Makes 1 10-inch tart

INGREDIENTS

For Sweet Almond Dough:

1/4 cup

-

whole almonds

1/2 cup

-

granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups

-

unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp.

-

pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp.

-

pure almond extract

8 T

-

unsalted butter

,

melted

For Tart:

Sweet Almond Dough

,

room temperature

1/4 cup

-

whole almonds

3 cups

-

white wine

3/4 cup

-

granulated sugar

3

-

pears

,

peeled, halved and cored

1 cup

-

heavy cream

1/2 cup

-

honey

2

-

eggs

2 T

-

unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp.

-

pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp.

-

pure almond extract

DIRECTIONS

For Sweet Almond Dough: 

Preheat over to 350°F.

Spread almonds on rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool, then finely grind in a food processor. Measure out 2 T of ground almonds and set aside for garnishing the tart.

Combine 2 T of the ground almonds, sugar and flour in a medium bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. 

In a separate bowl, mix together vanilla extract, almond extract and melted butter. Add butter mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until coarse and crumbly, using your hands to break up any large lumps. The finished dough will stick together when squeezed between your thumb and forefinger.

The dough is ready to be pressed into a tart ring. It doesn’t need to be chilled.

For Tart: 

Use your fingers to press the sweet almond dough into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Form an even crust, about 1/4 inch thick, over the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line the chilled tart shell with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or baking weights. Bake on center rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Set tart shell aside to cool.

Combine wine and sugar in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Gently place pears in the hot wine, rounded sides down, and poach for 7 to 10 minutes, or until pears are fork-tender. Remove pears with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Continue simmering the poaching liquid until it has reduced by half its volume, then set it aside to use as a glaze on the finished tart.

Combine cream, honey, eggs, flour, vanilla extract and almond extract in a medium bowl and mix well with a whisk.

Place cooled, pre-baked tart shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Slice the poached pears in half again lengthwise and arrange them in the bottom of the tart shell in a fan-like pattern. Pour the custard filling over the pears, filling the shell to just below the top. Place baking sheet on center rack of oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until custard is set and golden brown. Let the tart cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan.

Warm the reduced wine glaze over low heat until it thins, then brush the surface of the tart with a little glaze. Sprinkle ground toasted almonds around the outer edge.

TIP

If you’re not ready to bake with the dough, pack it into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. The wrapped dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or frozen up to 1 month. Frozen Sweet Almond Dough needs to be fully defrosted before it’s used. The preferred method is to transfer the dough to the refrigerator 1 day in advance. If using frozen dough, you may need to roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thick to fit your tart pan.

Recipe courtesy of Leslie Mackie of Macrina Bakery in Kent, Washington