Serves 8 to 10
Pears are poached in mulled wine here, infusing the fruit with spices and giving the exteriors a deep crimson hue. When sliced and nestled into the rich frangipane filling, they create a glorious ombre effect. Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2018
3 to 4 firm, small pears, such as Forelle, Anjou, or Bartlett
2 cups dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Peeled zest of 1 orange, plus 1/3 cup fresh juice
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 recipe Test Kitchen’s Favorite Pate Brisee (below)
1 cup whole blanched almonds
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pears: Peel pears; transfer to a saucepan. Add wine, sugar, vanilla bean, orange juice and zest, cloves, and enough water to cover pears (2 to 3 cups). Top with a parchment round to keep pears submerged and bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pears are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl; cover with poaching liquid. Let cool completely.
Pie: On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out dough into a 13-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch tart pan. Trim dough flush with rim; lightly prick bottom with a fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in lower third. Arrange almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until golden and fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely. Transfer to a food processor; add flour and salt and process until finely ground.
Beat butter with sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Add almond mixture; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees. Line dough with parchment; fill with dried beans or rice. Bake until edges begin to turn golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove beans or rice and parchment; bake until bottom and sides are golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. (Crust can be made up to a day in advance and covered tightly in foil.)
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; place a foil-lined baking sheet below rack. Spread crust with almond mixture; smooth top with an offset spatula. Working with one pear at a time, remove from poaching liquid; pat dry with a paper towel, then slice in half lengthwise, remove stem, remove core with a measuring teaspoon or a melon baller, and cut crosswise on a slight bias into 1/8-inch slices. Fan pear slices in a random pattern to completely cover top of frangipane. (You may not use them all.)
Place tart pan directly on oven rack; bake until frangipane is golden, puffed, and just set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. (If crust is getting too dark, shield with a foil ring.) Transfer to wire rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours.
To shield the pie rim from darkening too fast, make a foil ring: Cut a 13-inch round of foil, then cut out the center to create a ring about two inches wide. Center it over the crust; gently fold the edges down to secure.
The pears can be poached up to three days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container, submerged in their liquid. (Their color will become deep red throughout; for more contrast — dark-red exteriors, beige interiors — use pears poached the day of baking.)
— — — — — — — — — —
Test Kitchen’s Favorite Pate Brisee
Yield: Enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie, or one 10 1/2-by-15 1/4-inch single-crust slab pie
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
7 to 8 tablespoons ice water
Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces remaining. Drizzle 5 tablespoons water over mixture; pulse several times to combine. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture holds together when pinched.
For a 9-inch pie, shape dough into two disks and wrap each in plastic. For a slab pie, shape dough into a rectangle and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, or freeze up to 3 months; thaw overnight in refrigerator before using.
Note: To avoid creating water pockets in your brisee (which will wreak havoc in your dough), make sure to strain the ice out of the water before drizzling it in and processing.