Sweet Almond Pastry: First, sift
the flour with the almond meal, confectioners sugar, baking powder,
and salt. Then place in the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted
with the paddle attachment. (Can also use a hand mixer). Add the
chunks of cold butter and beat on medium low speed until the mixture
is mealy (grainy with no visible pieces of butter). Add the cold egg
yolks and seeds from the vanilla bean (if using) and beat on low speed
until the dough comes together (pastry will be yellow in color).
the pastry onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the
pastry into 6 equal pieces (about 60 grams each). Wrap each piece of
pastry in plastic wrap.
Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least six hours (the pastry
can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for
up to three months). After the
pastry has chilled sufficiently, place on
a lightly floured surface, and roll each piece into a 5 1/2
inch (14 cm) round. (To
prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform
thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as
you roll.) Place
the rounds of pastry on a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator
for about 30 minutes (to firm up the pastry which makes it easier to
place in the tart rings). Then gently
place each round into a 4 x 3/4 inch (10 x 2 cm) tart ring
Never pull the pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by
too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the tart ring).
Gently lay in tart ring (or pan) and lightly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the
sides of the tart ring (pan). With a sharp knife cut excess pastry from top
of tart ring (pan). Then with a thumb up movement, again press dough into
creases of ring (pan). Place the tart rings (pans) on a parchment lined baking sheet,
and place in the refrigerator while you make the Frangipane.
the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or
with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and seeds from the vanilla bean, and beat until
incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as needed.
Then add the almond meal, flour, and salt and beat until combined. (If not using immediately, transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate
for up to three days.)
Place the seedless raspberry
preserves (jam) in a
small piping bag fitted with a small plain tip.
Prick the bottom of each tart shell with the tines of a fork. Next,
pipe thin concentric circles of the raspberry jam on the bottom of
each tart shell. Then fill the tart shells about 2/3 - 3/4 full with
the frangipane and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon or offset
spatula. Lastly, pat the pear halves dry with a paper towel. Slice each
pear half into thin slices and place one pear half in the center of each tart. Place
the baking sheet with the filled tarts in the refrigerator while you
preheat your oven.
your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Bake the tarts for
about 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown (the frangpipane will
puff up during baking). Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
In a small saucepan heat the apricot preserves until boiling. Remove from heat
and strain to get rid of lumps. Add the Cognac or water.
If desired, using a
hand held butane kitchen torch, brown the tips of the pear slices.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the tarts, both the
pears and frangipane, with the apricot glaze. Sprinkle the
edges of the tarts with pearl sugar or sliced almonds.
The Pear Frangipane
Tarts are at their best the day they're made. But you can cover and
refrigerate for about two days. The tarts can be frozen but the pastry
crust will not be as crisp. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Makes 6 - 4 inch (10
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