I panicked the other day when I saw that I had several pears in the fruit bowl, each very ripe or on the verge of turning to brown, mealy mush. I feel badly throwing out food anytime, but particularly when something has gone bad just because I didn’t get around to eating or cooking with it. I quickly used one pear as the base of a smoothie. But what to do with the remaining pears? They wouldn’t last a day longer in the extraordinary heat of the unusually late summer we’re experiencing here in Northern California. And the warm temperatures don’t exactly call for a pear crisp–although fruit crisps are normally one of my favorite things to eat! So I turned once more to the oddly sensible French, and chose to make a pear and almond tart. I love the combination, and what’s more, I love that ripe pears and almonds are naturally very sweet, enabling me to use very little added sugar–less than a third cup in the whole tart!!
Of course, my mother–who was an amazing cook during my childhood, constantly chastises me for cutting too much sugar out of desserts. She must own a sweeter tooth than me, and can immediately tell if I’ve made one of her dishes using only half the sugar called for in the recipe. So when I made this tart, I assumed I would get an earful from her once she tasted it. (And naturally, I had to have her taste it.)
The kids and I finished dinner late, and tucked into the tart–I for one, fully expecting to find it needed more sugar. However, we all loved it as is and promptly had seconds. We jumped in the car to drive a large slice of tart–while the bathtub was filling, to my mother (who conveniently lives quite close).
I didn’t hear the verdict until the next day, but my mother actually called to say she thought the tart was delicious. For added emphasis, she repeated her rendered verdict.
So without further ado, and with the hope you’ll enjoy it just as much as my family…
1 1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend*
1 heaping tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter
2-3 tbsp ice water
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
A pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup almond flour (I like Honeyville)
2-3 pears, cored, skin removed, sliced
*I typically use 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour, 1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour and 1/4 cup almond flour/meal for my all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a medium bowl, whisk the gluten-free flour blend, 1 tbsp sugar and salt until blended. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or whatever technique you like, cut in the flour until it’s evenly incorporate. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of ice water and continue mixing, adding a little more water if necessary until there is no more dry flour on the bottom of the bowl, but the mixture should still seem quite dry.
Dump the contents into a 9-inch tart pan and press the crumbly mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, being careful not to work the dough too much (or it will get tough!). Chill in the fridge until the oven is ready.
Bake crust for 10-12 minutes until crust is golden. Place on a rack to cool.
In the meantime, in a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg, sugar and salt until pale yellow and creamy. Blend in the two extracts. Slowly blend in the almond flour and mix until just blended. Using a spatula, spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the cooled tart crust. Arrange the pear slices on top in whatever design you like.
Reduce oven heat to 375F. Bake the tart for another 25-30 minutes or until the frangipane filling is set.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Dairy-free? You can easily sub coconut oil and/or palm shortening (I love Nutiva’s) for the butter in the crust.
Don’t care about gluten? You can also make the crust using any traditional pastry crust recipe.
Want to make it even richer? Just add 1/4 cup cream to the frangipane mixture.