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Pear and Almond Tart

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Ingredients

Tart

¾ cup sugar

1 bottle red wine

½ vanilla bean, split

One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick

4 cloves

6 firm but almost-ripe Bartlett pears

½ lemon

8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

½ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 cup finely ground blanched almonds

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons Calvados or dark rum

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 10-inch tart shell, made with Pâte Brisée (see below), chilled

Tart Shell

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, diced

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions

For the Tart

  1. Combine the sugar, wine, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and cloves in a large nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the pears, cut them lengthwise in half, and remove the cores and rub with lemon.
  3. Place the pears in the simmering syrup and cook until tender, 15–20 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing one of the pears with a paring knife—it should offer very little resistance.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the poaching liquid, then discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. (The pears can be stored in the refrigerator in their cooking liquid for up to 3 days.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  6. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, add the egg, almonds, flour, Calvados, and almond extract and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour this mixture into the chilled tart shell and spread it evenly.
  7. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid, letting excess liquid drain off. Set 1 cup of the poaching liquid aside. Place the pears cut side down close together on the tart with the narrow ends facing in, until the entire surface of the tart is covered. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over high heat, bring the reserved pear poaching liquid to a boil and reduce to a glaze; there should be 2–3 tablespoons remaining. Set aside.
  9. As soon as the tart comes out of the oven, brush the pears with the reduced poaching liquid to give them a sheen. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For the Tart Shell

  1. Combine the flour, butter, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times, just until the mixture becomes crumbly.
  2. Add the egg and pulse a few more times, until the mixture resembles small peas; do not overprocess.
  3. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  4. Lightly grease a 9- or 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Dust a work surface and the disk of dough with flour and roll out the dough into round 12 inches in diameter for 10-inch tart. Fit into the tart pan, gently pressing the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Remove any excess dough with a roll of the rolling pin. Prick the bottom all over with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. To bake the tart shell, line the tart shell with parchment paper or foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake the tart shell for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and bake until thoroughly dry and golden, 5–8 minutes more. Let cool in the pan on a rack.
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