I’ve been making this tart for many years in countless iterations. It all started way back when with Julia Child’s version of a red wine-poached pear tart filled with frangipane. A gorgeous masterpiece.
Over the years, I simplified my version significantly, although it does still take a bit of work for all the different components. The nice thing is is that you can make the tart dough ahead of time (up to 1 day in the fridge or 1 month in the freezer), line the tart pan with the dough and freeze it (for up to 1 month in advance, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap), and poach the pears up to 3 days in advance (just store them in an airtight container in the fridge).
I poach my pears in a simple syrup flavored with orange zest and vanilla bean. The fragrance is simply incredible and will fill your house with the smell of the holidays. The buttery crust is reminiscent of pie dough meets a crisp cookie, and the smooth custard holds it all together. Topped with a shower of toasted almonds and a sprinkle of sugar for crunch, this is a definite every year on my Thanksgiving table.
Recipe: Pear Almond Custard Tart
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the tart dough:
For the poached pears:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 ripe but firm pears, preferably Bartlett, peeled, quartered, and cored
- Zest of 1 orange, removed with a vegetable peeler
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
For the filling:
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup sugar plus 2 tbsp
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- To make the tart dough, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract. In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and confectioners’ sugar. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse until the butter is broken up into pieces about the size of small peas. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture, then process until the mixture comes together. Dump the dough into a large ziploc bag and press together into a flat disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day before using, or freeze for up to 1 month.