The most extraordinary flavor and aroma come from Pear Tart with Frangipane, a most delectable tart. Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream for a perfect end to the meal.
- 1 (9-inch) pre-baked tart shell
- 1 1/2 Cups sugar
- 1 2-inch piece of vanilla bean; split open
- 2 strips of lemon zest; (1 x 2 each)
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 large ripe pears; (Bosc, if possible)
- 1/2 Cup whole blanched almonds
- 2 Cups whole milk
- 1 2-inch piece of vanilla bean
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 Cup sugar
- 1 Cup all-purpose flour
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter; in 1/2-inch bits
- 1/2 Cup dry or stale macaroons; pulverized
- 1/2 Cup Kirsch
- 1 1/2 Cups apricot jam
- 1/4 Cup Kirsch
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped pistachios; (blanched)
- IN A MEDIUM-SIZE, NON-REACTIVE saucepan, combine the 1 1/2 cups sugar, the split vanilla bean, lemon zest, lemon juice and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear.
- Peel the pears, cut in half lengthwise, seed, core and stem. Shape 1/2 of 1 pear into a peach-like round by cutting off the stem end. Poach the pear halves in the sugar syrup until tender. Drain on a rack.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- On a baking sheet, toast the almonds to golden brown, cool and pulverize in a food processor. Heat the milk with the remaining 2-inch piece of vanilla bean. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, yolks and 3/4 cup sugar until thick and lemon colored, then add the flour. When the flour is absorbed, add the milk, return to the heat, stirring, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until nicely thickened.
- Pour pastry cream into a bowl and stir in the 6 tablespoons of butter.
- Add the almond powder, macaroons, and 1/2 cup kirsch. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill.
- Heat the apricot jam, then rub through a fine sieve and add the 1/4 cup kirsch. Heat again and stir constantly until clear.
- Spread a thin layer of apricot glaze on bottom of the baked and cooled pastry shell. Spoon in the frangipane (almond pastry cream) and smooth it out.
- Set the pear round in the center and arrange around it the pear halves, stem end facing center. Press pears gently into the frangipane.
- Brush the apricot glaze over the pears; mix the pistachios and sprinkle over the pears.
- Refrigerate until 15 minutes before serving. (Can be made 1 day in advance.)
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