Found some adorable Seckel pears at the farm market up the road. They’re the only indigenous pear variety here in the North America.
It must have been kismet that I found this antique muffin pan just one day previous. You can imagine my delight when the pears fit just so in the pan for the following photo. I’ve always drooled over frangipane recipes, but have never gotten around to actually making a tart filled with some, primarily because Poor Lewis always requests apple or pumpkin pie on the rare occasions I whip out the rolling pin. Traditionally frangipane is made with almonds, but I had some hazelnuts rolling around the fridge for awhile, purchased for some unrealized and forgotten recipe, so I’ve they’ve been utilized as a stand-in for almonds. Did you know there is a worldwide shortage of hazelnuts this year? With Nutella buying up 75% of the annual harvest, it would be prudent to stock up on Nutella for the winter hibernation!
You don’t have to search high and low for this pan. A muffin pan will do, especially the muffin top kind that has a shallow depth. Or just use a standard 9-inch pie pan. Any pear variety will do. Try Bosch or d’Anjou.
You can see I divided the pie dough crumbles evenly between the 12 spaces. Then it was simple to press it all into shape, around the sides first and then the bottom. This recipe required pre-baking the pie shells. I didn’t want to bother with foil and pie weights, so I placed the tin in the freezer for 20 minutes, while I prepared the filling and poached the pears.
These came out so lovely and were very delicious. If you love to bake and fuss about in the kitchen, go for it. They’re worth the effort and everyone will be extremely impressed.
Apricot jam is always indicated in frangipane recipes for glazing the tops of the tarts after baking. I had some spectacular green gage plum jam with vanilla that I made in the summer and this was a great stand in. Didn’t even bother to melt it before brushing it on.
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1¼ cup flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
- Pinch salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 to 4 tablespoons cold water
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup skinned hazelnuts, or blanched almonds, ground fine
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 8 Seckel pears, or 4 large pears, peeled
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons vermouth, white wine, rum, brandy, or Poire William liqueur
- 1 star anise (optional)
- ½ cup apricot jam, for glazing
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, placing the baking rack in the center of the oven.
- Place the butter, flour, sugar, hazelnuts, and salt in a stand mixer and, with the paddle attachment, beat the ingredients until well combined.
- Add the egg yolk and beat until combined. Add 2 tablespoons water and mix on low until the dough holds together but is still in crumbly lumps. Add 2 more tablespoons of water if still too dry.
- Press the dough into the tart molds and place in the freezer for 20 minutes
- In the same mixer bowl, place the butter, flour, hazelnuts, sugar, egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until combined.
- Prebake the tart shell at 375 degrees, in the oven for 12 minutes.
- Place the tart shells on a baking rack to cool.
- Place the pears, water, sugar, vermouth, and star anise in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until the pears can be pierced with a fork, but are still firm.
- Remove the pears from the liquid and slice in half, top to bottom. Remove the stem and core.
- Fill the tart shells with the frangipane.
- Slice the pears either sideways or in a slight spiral, top to bottom and carefully place on top of the frangipane.
- Bake the tarts for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. A 9-inch tart should be baked for 45 to 50 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, place on a baking rack, and brush with jam to glaze.
Let me know if you give this a try.