Jean-Georges Vongerichten has been making rustic fruit bruschetta (essentially, a fruit tart with a bread crust) in the pizza oven at New York's Mercer Kitchen for years. This pear bruschetta, with its layer of creamy hazelnut frangipane flavored with amaretto, is a comforting, late-winter incarnation.
Four 1/3-inch-thick slices of sourdough bread, 5-by-3-inches (6 ounces)
3/4 cup roasted, skinned and salted hazelnuts (3 ounces), chopped
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons amaretto liqueur
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, chilled
2 large, ripe Bartlett pears
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the bread slices on a large rimmed baking sheet and lightly toast for about 7 minutes.
In a food processor, finely grind 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts. Transfer to a bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar and butter and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the amaretto and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Spread the hazelnut cream on the toasts.
Peel, halve and core the pears. Slice each pear half lengthwise 1/4 inch thick; spread them into fans. Brush with lemon juice. Using a spatula, transfer the pear fans to the toasts. Dust the pears with confectioners' sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the hazelnut cream is set and nicely browned. Dust the toasts with confectioners' sugar and scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts over the top. Serve right away.