Pear Frangipane Tart
This classic French poached pear tart is made with a sweet tart dough and filled with poached pears and frangipane (almond cream). Serve over the holiday season for a special treat!
I’m so excited to partner with Harry & David once again to bring you one of my favorite classic dessert recipes!
This classic pear frangipane tart uses my all-time favorite Harry & David product: their famous Southern Oregon grown Royal Riviera pears.
My family has been ordering Royal Riviera pears over the holiday season for as long as I can remember. It has become a long-standing tradition and one we look forward to each year.
They make for a wonderful holiday gift to send to friends and family too. I’m all about edible gifts at this time of year.
Ingredient Breakdown: Royal Riviera Pears
Hand picked at peak maturity, Royal Riviera pears are buttery, sweet, and incredibly juicy. Like, so juicy that you’ll have to stand over a sink while you eat them. They’re incredible, always arrive in perfect condition, and never ever disappoint.
So you can imagine my excitement when two boxes of my favorite pears arrived on my doorstep, and I was asked to create a fun new pear recipe for you.
I brainstormed a few ideas, but kept coming back to one of my favorite desserts of all-time: pear frangipane tart. Otherwise known as la tarte bourdaloue.
A classic French tart made with pate brisee (sweet tart dough), poached pears, and frangipane (almond cream).
How to Poach Pears
In keeping with tradition, this pear tart uses poached pears for the filling. While it’s tempting to just enjoy them on their own, Royal Riviera pears are fabulous for baking, as they have a very buttery texture and maintain their shape extremely well.
For this tart recipe, we’ll be poaching whole cored pears in a simple syrup infused with cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, and vanilla bean.
One important thing to keep in mind when poaching is to always use firm, just barely ripe pears. You do not want to allow the pears to fully ripen or they will break down during the poaching process.
What is Frangipane?
Pronounced fran-juh-pan, frangipane is a dessert filling made from ground almonds, butter, eggs, sugar, and small amount of unbleached all-purpose flour. It is sometimes referred to as almond cream.
I fully came to appreciate frangipane in culinary school. We used it constantly for various applications and its ability to transform desserts never ceased to amaze me. It rises as it bakes, and has a wonderful texture and almond flavor that beautifully compliments pears.
Frangipane is made from finely ground almonds, aka. almond flour. While you can flavor frangipane any number of ways, the frangipane filling for this tart is kept fairly traditional.
I like to add fresh lemon zest, a touch of dark rum (optional), and pure vanilla extract.
Blind-Baking the Tart Crust
As is the case with many tart recipes, this pear frangipane tart requires you to blind-bake the tart dough prior to adding the filling.
Blind baking adds another step to this recipe, but is very important for the final result.
It ensures that the tart dough is cooked through completely, gains a deep golden color (aka. flavor!), and ensures a crisp, buttery texture that balances the softer pear frangipane filling.
How to Make It Ahead:
While this dessert does involve several components and steps, there are ways to prep it in advance and make the process more time-friendly.
- Sweet Tart Dough – prepare and refrigerate the tart dough several days in advance (or freeze up to a month ahead and allow to thaw in the refrigerator before rolling out)
- Poached Pears – pears can be poached several days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Frangipane Filling – frangipane comes together quickly and stores extremely well. Make it several days in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. It also freezes well, just be sure to transfer it to the refrigerator in advance and allow it to thaw completely before using.
How to Serve Pear Frangipane Tart:
Once baked, you’ll want to allow the tart to cool almost completely before serving. I like to garnish it with a simple dusting of sugar. You can also brush the top with a simple apricot glaze for shine if you desire.
The tart is best served on it’s own or with a simple dollop of whipped cream. This would make an excellent dessert for Thanksgiving or enjoyed over the rest of the holiday season.
Pear Frangipane Tart
- 2 cups (240 g) unbleached all-purpose flour fluffed, spooned, and leveled
- ⅓ cup (70 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 11 tablespoons (155 g; 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter cubed
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 cups (1.4 L) cold water
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise pod
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 2 strips lemon peel without the pith, plus half a lemon
- 3 Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears firm yet slightly ripe
- 8 tablespoons (4 oz; 115 grams) unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (115 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (115 g) almond flour
- 3 large whole eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon dark rum optional
- powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- lightly sweetened whipped cream optional
- Prepare the Tart Dough: Lightly grease a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse until well mixed. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse repeatedly until the butter is well distributed into the flour. You shouldn't be able to see any distinguishable pieces. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and pulse continuously until the dough just starts to clump together. Note: It might appear very dry at first, but if you continue to pulse and process, it will come together. Be patient.
- Transfer the dough and any smaller pieces to a clean countertop, and knead - pressing the dough down with the heel of your hand - until it is completely smooth. It will resemble a sugar cookie dough in texture. Press the dough into the greased tart pan (with a removable bottom) - it should be just under ¼-inch thick, you should have some dough leftover - and chill in the fridge for a minimum of one hour, or freeze for at least 30 minutes. If you are preparing the dough ahead of time: press it into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 2 days. If following this method, take the dough out of the fridge at least 15 to 20 minutes before rolling, as it will be too hard to roll right from the fridge. Roll the dough out (between pieces of parchment or wax paper to prevent sticking), carefully pick up and transfer the dough to the tart pan, using fingers to push in dough and gently shape the tart. If it cracks, just simply patch or press the pieces back together. This is a forgiving tart dough. Make sure to press dough tightly inside corners and sides. The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance or frozen up to a month ahead.
- Poach the Pears: As the tart dough is chilling, poach the pears. Combine the cold water and granulated sugar in a medium pot (roughly 3-quart capacity). Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise pod, vanilla bean paste, and lemon peel.
- Peel the pears, leaving the stem on, and gently rub each pear with the lemon half to prevent the pears from oxidizing. Using melon baller or small paring knife, core the pears from the bottom end. Using a large spoon, gently lower the cored, whole pears into the poaching liquid. The poaching liquid should almost completely cover the pears.
- Return the poaching liquid to a low simmer, cover the surface of the pot with a parchment round, and simmer the pears, occasionally flipping them during the cooking process, for about 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Remember that you will be cooling the pears in the liquid, so do not overcook. You can test whether the pears are done by piercing the pear (through the bottom end) with a paring knife. The pears should be tender, yet not at all mushy.
- Cool the pears to room temperature in the poaching liquid. Serve or transfer the pears to a large container and refrigerate for up to one week. The poaching liquid can be kept, discarded, or used to store the poached pears. Try reusing the liquid for poaching other pears or as a simple syrup in cocktails, etc.
- Blind Bake the Tart Shell: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the center position. Lightly grease the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it, buttered side down, against the chilled tart dough. Fill the foil with baking weights, dried beans, or granulated sugar (all options work well). Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, and bake uncovered for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the shell is lightly golden and cooked through. Set tart pan on a wire rack to cool completely before adding the frangipane and poached pears.
- Make the Frangipane Filling: Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held mixer). Beat over medium speed until creamy. Over low speed, add the almond flour, alternating with egg until the ingredients are incorporated evenly. Add the flour and mix to combine. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and rum (if using) and mix until just combined. Use right away if the other tart components are ready, or transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Assemble the Tart: Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Fill the pre-baked tart shell with the frangipane filling and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Place the poached pears on a few paper towels to help soak up any excess poaching liquid (this will help prevent it from seeping into the frangipane). Cut the poached pears in half, removing the stem and any core that might remain. Slice the pear halves crosswise into thin slices. Using a spatula, carefully lift each sliced pear half and place on the frangipane, with the narrow end of the pear facing the center of the tart, fanning the slices apart slightly as you work. Repeat with the remaining pear halves, spacing them evenly around the tart.
- Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 40 to 55 minutes, or until the frangipane has risen substantially around the pears and is deep golden brown in color. Note: *If your oven runs hot, you may wish to reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. If the edges of the tart are gaining color too quickly, you can lightly cover them with a ring of foil - be sure to cook the filling through completely. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool until lukewarm or room temperature before removing the sides of the tart pan.
- Before serving, dust lightly with powdered sugar. Serve plain or with whipped cream. While you can prepare several components of this tart ahead, it is best served the day of baking. Any leftovers can be kept at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.
Tips for Success
- It is very important to use firm, just barely ripe pears, whenever you are poaching. Otherwise they will become mushy and overcooked.
- You can use uncooked pears for this recipe as well, however they won't have quite as much flavor as the poached pears. If following this method, use slightly riper pears (but make sure they are still fairly firm).
- For added flavor: Infuse the frangipane with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom.