- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup pastry flour
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds (1 1/4 ounces), finely ground
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 pears, preferably Bartlett or Comice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons blanched almonds, finely ground
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (about 2 ounces)
- In an electric mixer, beat the butter at moderate speed until softened. Add the 1/3 cup flour, the confectioners' sugar, ground almonds, egg, vanilla and salt. Beat until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and beat on low speed just until incorporated; do not overmix.
- Divide the dough in half; flatten each half into a disk, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Line 2 baking sheets without sides with parchment paper; dust very lightly with flour. Place 1 pastry disk on a prepared baking sheet; the dough will be sticky. Working quickly and using as little extra flour as possible, roll it out to an 11-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Repeat with the other pastry disk. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Flip 1 round of dough into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Peel off the parchment paper. Fit the dough into the pan, gently pressing into the bottom and against the sides of the pan. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork. Repeat with the other round of dough. Freeze the tart shells for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 week.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the tart shells for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.
- Using a small sharp knife, peel, quarter and core the pears. Slice them lengthwise 1/4 inch thick. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream with the eggs, granulated sugar and ground almonds. For each tart, arrange the pear slices in concentric circles, sprinkle the ginger over the pears and carefully pour the custard filling over the fruit.
- Bake the tarts for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the custard is firm and the crusts are browned. Transfer the tarts to a rack and let cool to room temperature before serving.
Contributed By Photo Published November 1993