So it’s January and I’m still posting my Thanksgiving recipes…..
Anyhow, this one was actually a last minute addition to the Thanksgiving menu. There was a total of 15 of us and I realized that one apple pie and one pumpkin cheesecake would be just enough for everyone, and, of course, just you don’t want just barely enough of anything you’re serving – you want to make sure there’s plenty to go around. I wasn’t quite sure what to make that would be Thanksgiving-y, and it occurred to me that I should use cranberries seeing as how they weren’t on the main menu.
The little wheels in my brain started turning and I came up with this, a tart that is decidedly autumnal with its combination of cranberries and pears. I am a huge fan of frangipane (a mixture of ground nuts, butter, sugar, and egg – how could that possibly be bad!) in tarts, so I had to include almond frangipane for an added layer of texture and flavor (and I’m also a huge fan of fruit-nut combinations).
Although there are a number of components for this tart, all of them are very simple to prepare, and all of them (except for the pears) can be made in advance and refrigerated for at least a few days. If you go the advance prep route, it takes maybe 20 minutes to assemble before baking and doesn’t require any special technique or skill to do so. The best part is that it comes out of the oven looking completely impressive when in fact it’s really easy to put together. But don’t tell anyone that.
Cranberry, Pear, and Almond Frangipane Tart
makes one 11” tart
For the Pate Sucree (Sweet pastry crust)
1 ½ cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled well
1 large egg
1 tablespoon ice water
For the cranberry jam
12 oz fresh cranberries
¾ cup water
6 tablespoons sugar
1” piece of ginger cut into 1/8” rounds
For the almond frangipane
1 cup almonds
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon flour
3 Bosc or Anjou pears
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons warm water
Make the pate sucree
Add the flour, sugar, salt, and butter to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal (some small chunks of butter should remain).
In a small bowl beat the egg and mix in the ice water. Add the egg mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times until the egg is just incorporated (the dough should be in a few clumps and not one large mass).
Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide it into 4 even pieces. Smear each piece forward with the heel of your hand to distribute the butter, then gather the pieces and form into a disk. (This technique is known as fraisage; it creates long, thin pieces of butter in the dough and makes for a very flaky crust.) Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. (Dough can be frozen up to 4 weeks; defrost in refrigerator 1 day before using.)
Make the cranberry jam
Add all ingredients to a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer the jam to a bowl and cool completely, the remove the ginger. (Jam can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.)
Make the almond frangipane
Add the almonds, sugar, and salt to a bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until the butter incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, and pulse to just combine. Add the flour and pulse to combine. (Frangipane can be made up to 5 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container; bring to room temperature before using.)
Make the tart
Heat oven to 375. Let the pate sucree sit at room temperature for ~15 minutes before rolling.
Roll the dough into a 13” circle. (This dough tends to be sticky because of the egg, and I don’t like to add a lot of flour, so I roll the dough between two large pieces of plastic wrap; wax paper would work fine, too.) Lightly sprinkle the surface with flour and fold in half. Sprinkle a little more flour on top and then fold in half again. Transfer the dough to an 11” tart pan so that the point touches the center of the pan, then unfold the dough. Gently press the dough into the edge and up the sides – do not stretch the dough, as it will shrink back when baking. Use a rolling pin to go over the edges of the pan to trim off the excess dough. Prick the dough with a fork and freeze for 15 minutes.
While the crust is chilling, prepare the pears. Slice each pear in half, then into quarters. Remove the core and seeds, and slice each quarter into ½” thick slices, slicing on an angle so that all the slices are uniform in size.
Add the honey and warm water to a small bowl and whisk well to combine.
Remove the tart shell from the freezer. Evenly spread the cranberry jam on the bottom of the crust. Spread all of the frangipane on top. Arrange the pears on top. Lightly brush the pears with the honey syrup.
Bake on the middle rack until the frangipane is golden and puffy, 45-50 minutes.