As we prepare to leave behind one year and enter a new one, whether we are spending that time at home or going to a party, it’s always nice to prepare something elegant to make that night memorable and special.
Start off the new year on a sweet note, with this sophisticated but easy to make pear-cranberry tart.
This tart not only looks great, but also tastes delicious. The pears🍐🍐 poached in a mulled red wine provide a fragrant twist to the delicate, crumbly texture of the almond filling and the slight tartness of cranberries perfectly complements the sweetness of the poached pears.
The recipe below is gluten free; I used oat flour to bake the crusts, but if you don’t care about gluten free, use regular unbleached, possibly organic, white wheat flour.
The proportions of ingredients in this recipe will yield two crusts. If you need to bake only one, use half of the ingredients for the tart, or freeze the dough for the other half and use it later.
- 3 small, firm pears such as Anjou, Bartlett or Forelle, peeled
- 2 cups dry wine (Merlot, Cabernet Savignon or Malbec)
- 2-3 cups water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- juice of 1 orange
- peeled zest of one orange
- 3 cloves plus 1 tsp spices (cinnamon, ginger)
Tart (Pate Brisee):
(will yields two tarts)
- 21/2 cup oat flour
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut up in small pieces
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 5-8 tbsp ice water
- pinch of salt
For the filling for one tart:
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened and cut up in small pieces
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
Pears: Transfer peeled pears to a medium saucepan. Add wine, sugar, vanilla extract, orange juice and zest, cloves and spices, and enough water to entirely cover the pears. Bring the liquid to a simmer over high heat. Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pears are easily pierced with the tip of a knife. For even coloring, pears have to stay submerged all the time. When cooked (that usually takes about 15 minutes), transfer to a bowl and cover with the poaching liquid. Let cool completely.
Tart (Pate Brisee): Combine flour, salt and sugar with a whisk or in a food processor. Add butter and mix until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 4-5 tablespoon of ice water over the mixture and mix until combined. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough holds together when pinched.
Halve the dough. Shape each half into a disc and wrap the discs in a plastic foil. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to one day. You can also freeze the discs for up to 1 month Thaw in the fridge overnight before using.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into about 13-inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch tart pan. Trim dough flush with the rim and prick with a fork. Line the center with a parchment paper circle and place weights (dry beans, small rocks) on top. Bake until edges begin to turn golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment paper and bake until sides and bottom are golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
With an electric beater, beat butter with sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract, beat until well combined. Add almond meal and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Spread the almond mixture on the baked crust and smooth out with an offset spatula. Pat dry the pears and cut each in a half. Remove core and stem with a small spoon or melon baller. Cut each pear half crosswise on a slight bias into 1/8 inch slices. Cut each cranberry in a half and place them in the decorative manner in the spaces between the pear slices.
Place the tart in the oven and bake at 350 F for about 45-50 minutes until golden and puffy. If crust is getting to dark, shield with a foil ring. When ready, cool completely, for at least 2 hours.
When cooled completely slice it up and serve by itself or, if you like, with a dollop of whipped cream.