The best desserts are made of three layers. And frangipane tarts definitely fit this category. I've been craving pears really badly recently (which is not a problem, really, considering that they are in season), and so I've decided to finally challenge this desserts, which is not only difficult to come by in North American pastry shops, but also seems very intimidating to master even for an enthusiastic baker like me.
I can't decide which layer I like the best - the almond cream or the fruit. For the sake of simplicity, let's begin with poaching the pears...
To poach the pear, take 3 ripe yet firm pears, peel them and cut into halves. Scoop out the core with a melon scoop. Cook in a wine and sugar and spice syrup.
4 red (Anjou or Bartlett) pears
2 cups red wine
4 cups water
1 cup sugar (which I honestly think should have been reduced by half)
Rind and the juice of one Meyer lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 whole star anise (which I think could have been reduced to only one)
- Bring the syrup to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the pears and reduce the heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Cool the pears while being immersed in the syrup. They can be served in any temperature in my opinion (room temperature, warm or cold), on their own, or with a dollop of whipped cream.
But if you want to turn this into a decadent and elegant pastry like pear & almond frangipane tart, proceed to making the crust... Which is reserved for the next post.
By the way - you will only need 2 pears for the tart; but it's good to have extra ones, in case a pear gets broken or mushy. Besides, the poached pears are so delicious that I guarantee you'll want to eat them on their own and 2 won't be enough!
Best served with an osmanthus oolong or a milky oolong.