I enjoy baking especially around the holidays. It is such a great time of the year and it’s the perfect weather to turn your oven on and allow the aroma of baked goods to scent your home!
If you follow my blog, which I hope you do, I usually bake with fruit or chocolate ingredients. That is what I love and that is the type of dessert I remember as a child. European desserts include many fruits and chocolate. My grandmother was an unbelievable pastry chef! She would make the most decadent desserts without any recipe! My uncle was a world renowned chef so I have to say I was pretty fortunate in the culinary experience as a child.
Upon arriving to the States, my mom really had to learn how to cook. She never had to with those two around! But I have to give her credit, she must have had it in her genes because everything she made was perfect! I wished that I had learned more from her but I hope to visit my aunt soon and learn some more classic Czech dishes from her.
As much as my mom was a fabulous cook she never baked. We had a great bakery not far from home and that’s where we would go for our special occasion desserts. So I basically learned how to bake from cookbooks and practice.
Even though I am not much on desserts, I do enjoy baking. It’s almost therapeutic and brings back many wonderful memories. When my daughter was little and even now we enjoy baking together. It is a great way to have fun and have a sweet treat to enjoy afterwards.
With the holiday season here and today’s first snowfall in NYC I wanted to make a pretty dessert to enjoy with my friend coming over for dinner tomorrow.
I hope you all have a very safe, happy and healthy holiday with some sweetness mixed in. Enjoy!
Pear & Almond Tart with Fig Glaze
For the crust:
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
For the Glaze:
- 3/4 cup fig preserves, heated and strained
- 2 1/2 tablespoons water
For the Pear Filling:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons water, divided
- 5 semi-firm pears, I used Bartlett and D’Anjou
- Sifted powdered sugar
For the dough:
With a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar until softened. Add in 1 large egg and the orange zest. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to incorporate the ingredients. Next, gradually add in the sifted flour and salt. Incorporate. Make sure all the flour is mixed in. Flatten into a round disc and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 45-60 minutes.
Remove the dough and place on a floured surface. You may either roll out the dough to 12-13-inch circle or do as I did and roll it out a bit and place into the pan covering the sides and bottom evenly, pressing into the sides. Make sure you so not pull the dough, or it will shrink. Make the dough even with the top of the pan. Prick the bottom of the pan with the tines of a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees C) Place the prepared pan onto a baking sheet and remove the plastic wrap. Place a lightly greased sheet of parchment paper on top and cover with pie weights, dry rice or dry beans to fill the pan. This will prevent the dough from puffing while baking. Place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and reset the oven to 350 degrees F or 176.67 degrees C. Carefully remove the weights and the parchment paper and place the pan back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes to cook the base of the dough. Remove and allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Keep the tart on the baking sheet.
While the dough is baking, in a small saucepan, heat the fig preserves with the water over a low heat. Remove and strain to get rid of any lumps. Once the dough is slightly cooled brush the entire pastry with the fig glaze. This will add flavor to the tart and seal the pastry. Evenly sprinkle the dough with half of the sliced almonds. Set aside.
Wash, pat dry and cut the pears in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds using either a teaspoon or melon baller. Slice the pears on the shorter side into 1/2 inch slices. In a large skillet melt the butter, add in 1 tablespoon water and then add in the 1/2 of the sliced pears. Cover. Cook over low medium/low heat until the pears become soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Remove and allow them to cool in a large bowl until cool enough to handle. Using the same large skillet repeat with the remaining pears.
Place the pears over the almonds in concentric circles, making sure to overlap the slices for a beautiful presentation. Place the tart that is still on the baking sheet into the preheated 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes, until the pears are fork tender. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Then brush with the remaining fig glaze. Once it has cooled, place the tart over a large inverted even topped bowl and slide the side of the tart pan down to remove. This is just an easier way of removing the side of the tart pan. Place on a serving dish. You may sprinkle with some powdered sugar sifted directly over the tart. Enjoy!