Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I have already eaten a record amount of pies for the year. Pumpkin, apple, and pecan are amazing, but I wanted to try something new this year, something that incorporated Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients.
We don’t have a lot of pies in the Middle East, but we do have a lot of almonds, and a lot of pears, and I’ve found a wonderful pear, almond, and chocolate tart that is absolutely delicious. It is not a very difficult tart. The pastry used is a regular piecrust that you can buy from the store or make from scratch. The tart shell is filled with a delicious frangipane and then topped with pears and chocolate, and baked. This recipe is good for a 9 inch fluted tart pan. If you’re using a pie dish, you might need to increase the recipe by multiplying the ingredients by 1.5. I hope you enjoy it!
For the pastry, you will need:
1 ¼ cups of flour
½ cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2-4 tbsp. ice water
½ tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
For the almond filling, you will need:
9 ½ tbsp. ground almonds
7 tbsp. butter at room temperature
7 tbsp. sugar
(If you have a scale, the ingredients are simply 100 g each of almonds, butter, and sugar, and 2 eggs).
For the toppings, you will need two pears, cored and cut in half, and about 2 tbsp. of chocolate chips, but the amount of chocolate really is to taste. An optional topping is apricot jam that you can use to glaze the top of the tart.
To make the pastry, first cut your butter into small pieces and return to the fridge to stay cold. Then whisk flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives until you see course crumbs. Add two tablespoons of the ice water, and gently combine, continue adding water in ½ tablespoon increments, until the dough stays together when pressed between two fingers. Try not to go over 4 tablespoons. The less water you put in, the flakier and crispier your dough is! Once you’ve added enough water, turn your dough out on a sheet of plastic wrap, and using the edges of the wrap, press the dough together into a disk. Wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
At this point, you can also preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, make the filling by creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the eggs, followed by the ground almonds. You can use store-bought almond meal or process 100 grams (9 ½ tbsp.) of blanched almonds in a food processor, be careful not to over-process though, because the ground almonds tend to lump together if processed for too long. If you’d like to accentuate the flavor of the almonds, you can add just a drop of almond extract. Alternatively if you want to have more of a pear flavor with a bit of a kick, you can add a little bit of pear brandy.
After the pastry is properly chilled, roll it out and gently insert it into your tart pan. To make it easier for myself to roll the dough out, I always put it between two sheets of parchment paper. I never to use extra flour, and I never have a problem with the dough sticking to the surface.
Add the filling, and arrange the pears cut-side down. Distribute the chocolate chips evenly, then bake the tart for about an hour, or until the top of the frangipane becomes golden brown.
A couple of minutes before the tart comes out, heat a few tablespoons of apricot jam in the microwave. Once the tart comes out, brush it with the jam while it’s still hot. Apricot jam doesn’t really affect the flavor of the tart, but it gives it a beautiful glaze, and prevents the fruit from turning brown.