The City Magazine Since 1975

Pear & Cranberry Frangipane Tart

From Ellen Gansen Bakst {Yields one 11-inch tart, serves 8 to 10}  
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For the crust:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
8 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4-6 Tbs. ice water

For the frangipane:
1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs. brandy
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1½ tsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch salt

For the topping:
1½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup, plus 2 tsp. water, divided
4-5 large Bartlett pears, about 3 lbs.
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup apricot preserves
2 tsp. water



For the crust:

Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Scatter the cold butter cubes over the flour and pulse seven to 10 times, until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Turn the mixture out into a large bowl. Sprinkle three tablespoons of ice water over mixture. Using a large fork, gently work the water into the flour mixture until it clings together and forms a dough. Add additional tablespoons of water one at a time as needed, being careful not to overwork. The dough should be cool and moist, but not sticky. Gently form the dough into a ball. Pat it out into a five-inch disk. Sprinkle the disk with flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes.  

For the frangipane:

Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Cream them on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. On low speed, mix in the egg yolk, brandy, almond extract, flour, and salt. Add the almonds and stir to combine.  

For the topping:

Rinse the cranberries and remove any stems. Combine a quarter cup of the sugar and a half cup of the water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the cranberries. Reduce the heat to low. Cook until the cranberries are softened but still whole, about three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cranberries to a plate in a single layer. Set aside to cool. Discard the poaching liquid.

Preheat oven to 425°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough to a circle 13 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Tuck the excess dough in around the sides. Gently press dough into rimmed sides of tart pan, forming a consistent edge. Spread the frangipane over the bottom of tart pan, using an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing the pears.

Peel the pears and slice in half from stem end down. Use a melon baller to remove the core. Slice the pears into quarter-inch slices. Put them in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine the remaining half cup of sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the pear slices and toss gently to combine, being careful not to break the slices.  

Remove the chilled tart shell from refrigerator. Arrange the pear slices, slightly overlapping, on top of frangipane around perimeter of pan. Sprinkle with half of the cranberries. Repeat with an inside row of pear slices. Tuck smaller pieces of pear in as needed to fill the tart shell. You may not need all of the pear slices; the tart should be full but not overloaded with fruit. Pour the remaining sugar mixture from the pears over the top of the tart. Dot with the butter cubes.

Bake the tart for 45 to 55 minutes, until juices bubble around the edges and in the center of the tart and the crust is golden brown. To prevent the cranberries from browning too quickly, cover the top of the tart loosely with a piece of aluminum foil during the last half of baking.

When the tart has almost finished baking, combine the apricot preserves and the remaining two teaspoons of water in a small saucepan. Cook over gentle heat until the preserves are warm and have loosened up. Strain the preserves into a small bowl to remove any large pieces of fruit. Using a pastry brush, gently glaze top of the warm tart with the warm preserves.

Cool the tart completely before serving.