Directions

  1. Make the Crust:

    Place flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add cut up chilled butter and egg. Using a pastry blender and working quickly so the butter doesn’t soften, mix the ingredients until it has a dry, oatmeal-like texture. (If it feels like it’s getting too soft, put the bowl in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes, then resume.) 

  2. Transfer dough to a work surface and gather it all together. Knead the dough, pushing down and away with the heel of your hand, as if you were tearing the dough. Do this only enough incorporate any loose pieces, turning the dough as you work. You want the dough to get pliable but not soft. (At this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic, chill up to 5 days and roll it out later; or continue with the recipe as follows.) 

  3. Transfer the dough to the tart pan and quickly press it evenly over the bottom and up the sides. Don’t overwork the dough here; it should stick together but still have a crumbly texture. Refrigerate crust until ready to use.

  4. Make the Tart:

    Heat oven to 375 degrees. To poach the pears, combine 1/2 cup of sugar, wine, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla bean or extract in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the pears to the poaching liquid. The pears should be fully immersed, so add water if necessary. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the pears can be pierced with a fork but are still firm. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid. Continue simmering the syrup for 20 minutes, or until reduced to 1 cup. Cool to room temperature.

  5. Cream the butter and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, ground almonds, rum, almond extract and flour. Beat until smooth. Spread the mixture in the chilled tart shell. 

  6. Cut the pears in half and completely pull out the stems and cores. With the cut side down, slice the pear into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal, keeping the slices in the pear shape. With a spatula, lift the pear halves intact and place them around the edge of the tart with the narrow tip toward the center, pinwheel fashion.

  7. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the tart shell is golden brown and the almond filling has puffed and is lightly browned. With a pastry brush, gently coat the tart with the syrup. Serve at room temperature.

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View of the pear tart on a raised serving tray and with a large slice removed.