Pear & Almond Tart
This tart is so light and delicate. It's a wonderful pud to serve in the evening after a big meal as it doesn't overpower and stuff you. The trick is keeping the pastry as short and as thin as possible. It should just melt in your mouth and the frangipane should be not too sweet and the Marsala really adds a wonderful alcoholic flavour. Delish!
120g plain flour, sifted
60g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
2 free-range egg yolks
(or shop bought sweet pastry – try to buy the all butter version)
Almond Filling - Frangipane
125g unsalted butter
125g golden caster sugar
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
250g ground almonds
A good gulg of Marsala - up to you how boozy you want it...
x 6 beautifully ripe pears (my favourites are either comice or anjou pears)
To make the pastry, set the oven to 190-200c, Gas 5.
Put the butter, sugar and egg yolks into a food processor and blitz quickly. Add the sifted flour and blend the mix into a paste. A ball of dough should be formed. When it is ready wrap the pastry in cling film and chill it in the fridge for at least half an hour. When you are ready to bake the pastry, roll it out on a floured surface as thin as you can get it and then line an 8inch tart tin with the pastry. Cut a circle out of greaseproof paper and place it over the pastry and then cover the paper with baking beans and shake them out so they are all level. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Now take the pastry out, remove the paper and prick the base of the tart with a fork to let out trapped air. Return the tart to the oven for 5 – 10 minutes until the base begins to crisp.
While the pastry is baking, make the franipane.
Again, in the food processor, put the butter and sugar and blitz well until they are fully blended. Now add the eggs and mix well. Now add the flour, ground almonds and Marsala. Mix well. Check the taste (if you like marzipane you'll love this raw!) and add more Marsala is you want it with more bite. You could also add some lemon zest if you wanted.
When the pastry case is cool, pour the fragipane into the base. Peel, core and quarter the pears. Place them on top of the fraginpane in a neat, circular pattern. Push the pears down into the frangipane.
Now pop the tart back into the oven and cook at 180c for about 25 minutes or until the frangipane has risen slightly and the pears are cooked.
NOTE: if you can't find really ripe pears, poach them first. Skin them, but keep them whole, pop them in a roomy pan filled with water and some sugar to sweeten. They should poach in about 30 - 40 minutes depending on how hard they are.