Festive Cranberry & Pear Tart For the Holidays
You may never spy a partridge in a pear tree.
But in Darina Allen’s newest cookbook, “Grow Cook Nourish: A Kitchen Garden Companion in 500 Recipes” (Kyle), you’ll learn not only how to grow pear trees and how to keep alert to pests and diseases, but how the fruit is a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. What’s more, you’ll find a selection of delectable recipes to make the most of your harvest.
Allen, who runs the renowned cooking school at Ballymaloe in County Cork, Ireland that has its own 100-acre farm, offers up similar wisdom for a roster of other fruits, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, and foraged finds in this 640-page book.
It makes a great resource for anyone who enjoys cooking, gardening or both. You’ll learn about oca, a tender green originally from South America that stars in “Oca, Chorizo, Scallion & Radish Salad.” Everyday potatoes turn special in “Burmese Pork & Potato Curry.” And easy-to-grow thyme gets a sweet turn in “Buttermilk Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Thyme Leaves.”
With the holidays upon us, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at the “Festive Cranberry & Pear Tart” from the book, of which I received a review copy.
It’s a pretty thing to be sure. It also boasts layers of flavors, starting with an superbly crisp crust, a layer of heavenly frangipane full of almond flavor, and finally a pile of juicy pears strewn with bright cranberries. A glaze of apricot jam gives it a final sweet touch.
Almonds are ground to make the frangipane, then mixed with butter, eggs, sugar, and a splash of Kirsch or Calvados. I had Cointreau at home, so that’s what I used instead. The orange liqueur married quite well, too, with the natural sweetness of the almonds.
Since pears come in varying sizes, you might end up with an extra one after fitting the rest into the pan, which is what happened to me. Just save it to enjoy another time.
After cooking the pears, you will be left with the poaching liquid. It’s tasty enough, with plenty of sweetness and pear flavor, that you could save it for cocktails or to sweeten tea, if you like.
Like the best holiday desserts, this one will provide not only a satisfying finale, but also quite the treat for breakfast the next day. And you know, you’re all about that.
Festive Cranberry & Pear Tart
(Serves 8 to 10)
For the shortcrust pastry dough:
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cold
1 organic egg yolk
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
For the poached pears:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups water
A couple strips of lemon peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
For the frangipane:
7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 organic egg, beaten
1 organic egg yolk
1 cup whole blanched almonds, ground
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons kirsch, Calvados or Cointreau
Approximately 1 cup cranberries
For the apricot glaze:
6 ounces apricot jam
Juice of 1/4 to 1/2 lemon
Softly whipped cream
First make the shortcrust pastry dough: Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes, and rub into the flour with your fingertips. When the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs, stop. Whisk the egg yolk and add the water to it.
Take a fork or knife and add just enough liquid to bring the dough together, then discard the fork and collect the dough into a ball with your hands. This way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. The drier and more difficult-to-handle dough will give a crisper crust. Pat dough into a thick circle, cover it with plastic wrap, and transfer to the fridge to rest for at least 15 minutes or 30 minutes if possible. This will make the dough much less elastic and easier to roll.
Next poach the pears: Bring the sugar and water to a boil with the strips of lemon peel in a nonreactive (stainless-steel) saucepan.
Meanwhile, peel the pears thinly, cut in half, and core carefully with a melon baller or a teaspoon, keeping a good shape. Put the pear halves into the syrup, cut-side up, add the lemon juice, cover with a parchment-paper lid, and the lid of the saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the pears are just soft. Let cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough, line a 9-inch diameter tart pan with a removable bottom, prick lightly with a fork, flute the edges, and chill for about 10 minutes, until firm. Bake blind for 15 to 20 minutes.
Next make the frangipane: Cream the butter, gradually beat in the sugar, and continue beating until the mixture is light and soft. Gradually add the egg and egg yolk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the almonds and flour and then add the Kirsch or Calvados or Cointreau. Pour the frangipane into the crust, spreading it evenly. Drain the pears well and when they are cold, cut them crosswise into very thin slices, then arrange the sliced pears around the tart on the frangipane pointed ends toward the center. Fill in all the spaces with the cranberries.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake the tart for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough is beginning to brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the frangipane is set in the center and nicely golden.
Meanwhile, make the apricot glaze. In a small saucepan (not aluminum), melt the apricot jam with the lemon juice and enough water to make a glaze that can be poured or brushed on. Push the hot jam through a nylon strainer and store in an airtight jar. Reheat the glaze to melt it before using.
When the tart is fully cooked, paint generously with the apricot glaze, remove from the pan, and serve warm or cold with a bowl of softly whipped cream.
Adapted from “Grow Cook Nourish” by Darina Allen
More Holiday-Worthy Desserts: Apple Snacking Spice Cake by Joanne Chang
And: Babette Friedman’s Apple Cake
And: Cranberry and Apple Kuchen with Hot Cream Sauce
And: Ginger Molasses Cake
And: Gingerbread with Warm Apples and Cider Sabayon
And: Kabocha Squash Cheesecake with Walnut Crust
And: Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting
And: Butterscotch Pudding by Bradley Ogden
And: Almond Tart with Mirabelle Cream
And: Apple Custard Tart
And: Custard Tart with Wine-Poached Grapes
And: Frozen Maple Mousse Pie with Candied Cranberries
And: Open-Faced Apple Galette with Quince Paste
And: Pumpkin Swirl Ice-Cream Pie with Chocolate-Almond Bark and Toffee Sauce
What kind of pears do you recommend? Looks delicious!
Eileen: Bosc pears are great to use because they keep their shape well even after cooking. Hope you enjoy the tart. Happy holidays!
delicious combination! i feel like pears are always unjustly upstaged by apples, and i’m happy to see them get some attention!
So beautiful. I bet you’re making this again instead of pumpkin pie, am I right? 😉
Ben: You know it! LOL
Wandered over to your place (as I am wont to do when in need of culinary inspiration) in search of something special for the upcoming holiday dessert, and here it is! I shall report back, but am expecting to yet again leave rave reviews. I’ll also be making the almond cookies. Enjoy your own festivities, Carolyn, and thanks in abundance for all you have contributed to mine over the years 🙂
Hi Carroll: Enjoy the cranberry & pear tart. It’s such a pretty dessert, too. So perfect for a special occasion. Happy holidays to you and your family. And thank you, as always, for all the support and kindness over the years. 😉
Progress report: Decided I could safely poach the pears ahead of time, but presume this will be best if I make the rest of it tomorrow. After peeling the pears (mine were extremely firm) I could tell that the coring was not going to go well. Hmm…why not poach first and core after they soften, I wondered. Might there be a risk of bitterness from leaving some of the seeds in? Figuring it was worth a try, I flicked out all of the visible seeds, decided to chance it, and am so glad I did. When they cooled a bit, it was extremely easy to just scoop out the core (I used a serrated grapefruit spoon) with virtually no waste and leaving the shape perfectly intact. No hint of bitterness in the delicious syrup which remained, and I am now pondering what amazing concoction I can come up with to put that to good use. Pear mimosas, perhaps? Actually, I have it on good authority that Santa will be leaving a small bottle of pear vodka in one of the stockings, so possibilities abound! Stay tuned for the final verdict 🙂
Hi Carroll: Pear mimosas for sure! You could even probably make pear granita with the leftover syrup. Enjoy! And happy holidays to you and your family. 😉
And, the verdict is in! While it looked absolutely lovely, and was highly complimented upon presentation, thanks to my very unpredictable oven, the bottom of the tart did not turn out to be as crispy as I think it should have been. No one complained about the flavor, but by then people were pretty full so we had a lot left over, and by next day, it was definitely on the soggy side. However, I could not bear to throw it out, so ingenuity kicked in big time. I ended up whizzing it in the food processor, along with the remains of our traditional Danish Almond Kringle breakfast pastry, and about ten crispy snickerdoodle sugar cookies, plus a couple of eggs. The resulting “cookie dough” turned out to yield absolutely **delicious** (and very unique) drop cookies. I only baked four to be sure the concept would work (because, yeah, we really need more cookies in the house right now!) and the rest went into the freezer to slice and bake-on-demand once we have worked off at least some of the holiday excess. I am pretty stoked about this commitment to “waste not want not” & “reduce, reuse, recycle”, and now I have a good stash of “Cranberry Pear Almond” cookie dough on hand for use as needed on down the road. The pear flavor was very much in evidence in the baked cookies & hopefully will hold through the freezing process too. So, likely not what you ever expected this recipe to yield, but I’m calling it a definite win!
Hi Carroll: You are a genius for saving the day — and the remnants — by turning everything into delicious cookies. As for the crust, I’m wondering if because of your finicky oven, it might be worthwhile to blind-bake the crust for a few minutes longer before adding in the filling? In any event, sounds like you had a wonderful gathering with family. And that’s what a sweet holiday is all about. 😉