Wow! This is by far one of the most beautiful and - being a sucker for any pastry that contains almond filling - one of the most delicious things I have ever made. I could really die. It is, I'm afraid also one of the most time consuming. Between the pastry, the pears, and the filling, it takes a day to make. (Although you can used canned pears, and many people do and I hear it is just as good). Also you can make each part of the recipe (the pears, tart pastry and filling) 2 days ahead and just assemble and bake on the day of.
I think I would say this tart is worth the time and effort for a special occasion. Or if you really just want to bake some day and make something beautiful... probably not the best potluck food I must say... it gets a little lost in the assortment and is very rich.
This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetite February 2005.
4 cups water
1-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 T fresh lemon juice
3 medium firm but ripe Bosc pears
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/4 tsp. salt
9 T. (1 stick plus 1 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 T all purpose flour
7 T sugar
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
Combine 4 cups water, sugar and lemon juice to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes.
Cool pears in syrup. (Can be made two days ahead. Cover and refrigerate).
Add to food processor 1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
and 1/4 tsp salt
Blend until nuts are finely ground
Add 9 T. butter and blend until smooth:
Mix in 1 egg yoke:
Add 1-1/4 cup flour:
Using on/off turns, blend until dough comes together in clumps.
Gather dough into a ball, flatten into disk.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours (can be made 2 days ahead. keep refrigerated).
Add 2/3 cup slivered almonds to food processor
and 1 T. flour
Blend until almonds are finely ground.
Add 7 T sugar, then 6 T unsalted butter and blend until smooth
Mix in 1 large egg
Transfer filling to bowl and chill at least 3 hours (can be made 2 days ahead. keep chilled).
OK I could eat that with a spoon!
Position rack in center of oven and preheat it to 375. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free it from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into a 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhand to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 10 minutes.
Bake crust until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake crust until sides are golden and bottom is set, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 10 minutes longer. Cool crust in pan on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Spread almond filling evenly in crust.
Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into think slices. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of wheel with narrow ends in center.
Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan.
Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.