I just love this combination of almond paste and pear. Rivaling the quintessential bite of dark chocolate, this combination is hands-down a classic way to end a good meal. So for a recent dinner, I decided to go with the inspiration of of Helen Dujardin, blogger at Tartelette, and make her pear and almond frangipane desserts. After a test-run of the recipe, I had to make a few changes to tailor it to my tastes, and the result is a luscious tart that I will definitely be making again and again.
A thin and crunchy, buttery crust is filled with a lightly-sweet soft almond paste filling, then topped by thin slices of pear and finished with apricot glaze. And I have to say, the flavors and textures harmonizing in these elegant tartelettes and are further totally enhanced by a dollop of tangy, brown sugar whipped cream. (Folding in some light sour cream does the trick!)
What's great about these tartelettes is that they're not overly sweet nor heavily-laden with butter. They are a delicate finishing complement to almost any meal and make a welcome snack for afternoon tea (or can we also say for an indulgent breakfast too?). And the whole process can be broken down into easily-managed steps over the preceding week, making this a wonderful recipe for make-ahead entertaining.
Enjoy these lovely tartelettes, my friends!
Pear and Almond Frangipane Tartelettes
Makes about 12 – 4.5-inch tartelettes
Adapted from Helene Dujardin
10 Tbs. (140g) salted butter, at room temperature
5 egg yolks
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
4 Tbs. ice water
½ cup (1 stick, or 115g) salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 cups (200 gr) almonds, blanched and ground
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3-4 large ripe pears, peeled, halved, cored, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons apricot jam
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs. brown sugar
½-1 cup light sour cream
For the crust:
In a food processor, whip the butter together with the egg yolks until light and airy. Add the flour, sprinkle the salt over, and pulse just until incorporated. With the food processor running, add ice water one tablespoon at a time, continuing to run the processor until dough clumps together. Divide the dough into two portions and dump each portion onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Form each portion into a thick disc, then wrap with plastic wrap and flatten into a thinner (1/3-inch) disc. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 5 days. The crust will weigh about 660g in total.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 12 portions (about 55g per tartelette). Roll out each portion between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to fit your tart pans. (I used 4.5-inch tart rings with removable bottoms, but ramekins, tart rings set on a baking sheet, or even large muffin tins could work. Baking times may vary, however.) Fold overhanging dough edges over and press against the sides of the pan to create an even edge.
Line the dough with a piece of aluminum foil, fill with pie weights or dry beans and par bake for 10 minutes at 350 F. Remove the weights and aluminum foil and let cool completely before adding the frangipane filling. (Can be made a few days ahead; just be sure to store in an odor-locking container in the refrigerator.)
For the frangipane:
You may use pre-ground almond flour or pure almond paste, but if you’re starting with whole almonds, blanch almonds for 30 seconds in a pot of boiling water until skins loosen, then peel almonds by popping them out of their loosened skins. Pat almonds dry with towels, then place in a food processor and grind.
Add the sugar, salt, and cardamom and pulse to mix, then add the softened butter, eggs, and vanilla extract and blend until smooth.
Assemble and bake:
Spread ¼ cup frangipane into each tart crust, then fan out a few slices of pears on top. Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Microwave apricot jam with 2 teaspoons water and stir to dissolve. Brush each warm tartelette with apricot gloss. Let sit 5 minutes on counter or cooling rack, then remove tartelettes from the pans. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with the lightly tangy whipped sour cream.
For the whipped cream:
Whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream until fluffy, then whip in 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Depending on how “sour” you like your cream, fold in ½ to 1 cup light sour cream until smooth. I like to serve these tartelettes unadorned so that the pretty pear fan can be admired, passing the whipped cream alongside at the table.