Although we’ve had a few nicely sunny days recently, it is still unmistakable winter in Melbourne. Pears are bountiful, and I have two recipes to bring you that make wonderful use of these fruits. Today, I am going to give you one that showcases the fruit in a liqueur-infused frangipane tart. I had never actually eaten, let alone made a frangipane tart before, I found the whole process very easy, though time consuming.
It would have taken significantly less time if I had used canned pears as suggested in the recipe, and if I had bought almond paste, but I decided to poach fresh pears and make my own almond paste (due to availability and cost).
The keen-eyed among you might have noticed that the tarts you see in the images are actually covered in apple slices, rather than pear, and that’s because mum wanted me to use up some of the apples that she bought (and she loved the tart with the pears so much). The recipe worked just as well for both fruits, and I would be happy to repeat it with either one.
Because I poached the fruit myself, I used a slightly different recipe for preparing the apples and pears before baking, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.
The pastry was perfectly crisp and crunchy and overall the tart wasn’t too sweet due to the hint of whiskey. I served the tart with some vanilla-whiskey custard, and thought it paired together really nicely.
I would definitely make this tart again and was exceedingly happy with how it looked, as I always have some trouble making pastry that comes out just the way I wanted it to, in both taste and appearance.
This is a two-day process, so I’ll split the recipe up to reflect this.
Pear or apple whiskey frangipane tart with vanilla-whiskey custard
Recipe for the tart adapted from Baked Explorations, and recipe for the almond paste from Food.com
Poach the apples or pears:
250g / 8.8 oz caster sugar
180g / 6.4 oz brown sugar
260 ml / 8.8 fl ounce water
Juice from 1 lemon
A few strips of lemon rind
½ Tbs vanilla paste
4-6 apples or pears, depending on size
2 Tbs whiskey
- Wash, peel and core the fruit, then slice in half and set aside.
- Add all ingredients (except fruit and whiskey) to a medium-large pot and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugars. Once syrupy, add another 1.5-2 cups of water and the apples or pears.
- Reduce the heat to low and make sure that the fruit is covered in poaching liquid. If it is not, add as much water as required to cover all the fruit. Place a piece of baking paper over the fruit to keep it immersed and poach for 10-15 minutes.
- The fruit is done when a knife is inserted easily but before the fruit has started to disintegrate and turn to mush. Once done, remove the fruit and place in a bowl. Allow to cool, then drizzle over whiskey, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Refrigerate the poaching liquid, as it will be required later on. If you want to poach another batch of fruit, you can use this syrup again, as it will be fine in the fridge for a week or so.
Make the almond paste:
Note: this will make double the required amount for the tart, so either halve it or keep the rest refrigerated for up to a month or frozen for up to three months)
250 g / 8.8 oz blanched almonds
250 g /8.8 oz powdered/icing/confectioners sugar
1 egg white
½ tsp almond essence
- Grind the almonds until they are very fine, then add the powdered sugar and pulse until well combined. Add the egg white and almond essence and pulse until smooth.
- Dump the paste onto some cling wrap and form a log. Wrap and refrigerate until use.
Make the pastry dough:
Note: all measurements are from the original American recipe, but I used Australian measuring cups, and the pastry turned out perfectly, so either way you should be fine.
¼ C sugar
1 ½ C all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ C (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 large egg, beaten
- Combine sugar, flour and salt in a food processor (it doesn’t need to be washed from making the almond paste) and pulse a few times.
- Sprinkle over the butter and pulse until sandy (6-10 times), then add the egg and pulse until the dough just starts to come together. There will still be small crumbly bits that do not stick together but that is fine.
- Tip the dough onto a large piece of cling wrap and form a disk. Wrap well and refrigerate overnight.
Take the dough out of the fridge (and the almond paste) and allow it to sit for around 20 minutes on the counter (shorter if it is summer, longer if it’s a freezing cold day like mine was). Once it is workable, flour a clean bench top and roll the dough out to fit a 14 inch long rectangular tart pan or an 11 inch diameter round pan. The dough is quite sticky so don’t be stingy with the flour. Make sure to move the dough around a bit as you roll it out otherwise when you go to pick it up it will be impossible.
Line your tart pan then roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to give the tart a clean edge. If you have extra dough like I did, make a few smaller tarts. Freeze the dough for 30 minutes, then line with aluminum foil and ceramic baking stones or dried rice/beans and bake for 15 minutes at 375F/180C. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are just turning blond. Allow to cool completely before filling.
Make the frangipane:
¼ C unsalted butter, cool
4.4 oz almond paste (I just used half of what was made above)
1 large egg
1 ½ Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs whiskey
- Beat the butter and almond paste until lightened in colour and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg until well combined, then sprinkle over the cornstarch and mix on low. Add the whiskey and beat again until smooth.
Assemble the tart:
Fill the pastry with the frangipane and slice the apples or pears into thin slices (around ¼ inch or ½ cm thick), then arrange them on top of the frangipane, pushing them down just a little. Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 375F/180C oven, or until the pastry has darkened and the frangipane has risen and turned golden.
Make the glaze:
1 C poaching liquid from day 1 and any remaining whiskey from the overnight soak
An additional ½ Tbs whiskey
¾ tsp cornstarch
- Boil the poaching liquid and leftover whiskey over a medium heat until reduced to about ¾ of a cup. Remove from the heat and whisk for a minute, then add the extra whiskey and cornstarch and whisk until combined.
- Return the pot to a medium-high heat and bring to a boil for about a minute, or until the glaze has thickened.
- Brush the glaze over the fruit and serve with custard.
Recipe adapted from Taste.com.au
250 ml / 8.5 fl ounces heavy cream (NOT double cream)
250 ml / 8.5 fl ounces milk
¼ (about 60 ml, 2 fl ounces) C sugar
4 egg yolks
1 heaped Tbs corn starch
1 tsp vanilla paste or 1 vanilla pod
- Heat the cream, milk and vanilla over medium until quite warm to the touch. You don’t want the mixture to boil, but you want it to be almost there. Meanwhile whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch in a heatproof bowl until slightly lightened.
- Remove the vanilla pod if using, scraping the seeds into the milk.
- SLOWLY pour the cream into the yolks, whisking CONSTANTLY (whisk while pouring if possible), then return the mixture to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Continue to stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard coats the back of the spoon. If you notice any clumps forming, whisk until the custard is smooth again. These clumps are just cornstarch (assuming you have not had the heat on too high and cooked the eggs), and will go away. If you like a thicker custard, continue to cook for a little longer. I never strain my custard and have never had any clumps in it, but if you are worried, strain the custard through a fine sieve.
- Remove from the heat and add whiskey to taste (I tend to add about 1 Tbs, and this gives a fairly punchy flavour, so taste as you go).