Pear and Frangipane Tart

Still drawing on my inspiration from the Great British Baking Show, I made this pear and frangipane tart for Christmas. Frangipane (say it with me: fran-gee-pan) is a fancy-sounding word for a delicious mixture of ground almonds, butter, eggs, sugar, and almond extract, which gets combined with any number of jams or fruits in various tarts.

I found this recipe at Williams Sonoma and adjusted it slightly to be alcohol-free; there was a bit of rum in their frangipane, but mine just uses water. I also kept my pears in halves, rather than quarters, to give the option of frangipane-only slices for those of us who don’t tend to like cooked fruit and skipped the part where you brush the baked tart with melted apricot jam to give it some shine. The next time I make this, I’ll chill my tart dough a bit longer; it turned out very well, but started to tear a bit as I worked with it and could have likely used another 30 minutes or so in the fridge.


For the tart shell

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

For the filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups raw unblanched whole almonds, finely ground*
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut in half

*You’re making almond flour here and can grind the nuts in a food processor until they’re very fine and powdery. You can use store-bought almond flour if you like, but as it’s made with blanched almonds, you’ll have a slightly different color and maybe a bit of a different flavor than if you make your own from whole, unblanched almonds. 


Prepare the tart shell: in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the egg mixture and beat just until the dough pulls together.

Turn dough onto a very lightly floured work surface and pat into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for about 30-60 minutes.

On a very lightly floured work surface, roll your dough to about 1/8 inch thickness; you’ll want to flatten the dough slightly before you start rolling and turn it every few rolls to keep it from sticking.

Fold the dough round in half and carefully transfer to a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Unfold and ease the round into the pan, without stretching it, and pat it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan; I use a small ball of excess dough to press it into the crevices in the sides so the dough doesn’t tear. Trim off any excess dough by gently running a rolling pin across the top of the pan. Press the dough into the sides to extend it slightly above the rim to offset any shrinkage during baking.

Refrigerate or freeze the tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.

Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil and fill with weights; I use dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes, then lift an edge of the foil. If the dough looks wet, continue to bake, checking every 5 minutes, until the dough is pale gold, for a total baking time of 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Leave the oven temperature at 375°F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

While the shell bakes, make the frangipane: melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to the touch.

In a medium bowl, stir together ground almonds, sugar, eggs, almond extract, vanilla extract, water, lemon zest, and melted butter. Spread evenly in the shell.

Slice pear halves crosswise into slices about 1/8 inch thick, keeping them together. Arrange core-side down with the stem end pointing toward the middle of the pan.

Bake until filling is firm to the touch and golden, about 40-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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