Following on one of the notes from yesterday, we are expecting friends over tonight. Natasha is in her element in the kitchen, and here is a dessert she made:
Pear and Almond Cream Tart (serves 6).
- 3 firm pears
- lemon juice
- 3/4 pound shortcrust or sweet shortcrust pastry
- 1 tbsp peach brandy or water
- 4 tbsp peach jam, strained
- 3/4 cup blanched whole almonds
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar
- 5 tbsp butter
- 1 egg, plus 1 egg white
- few drops almond extract
- Roll out pastry thinly and use to line a 9 inch pie pan. Chill the pastry case while you make the filling. Put the almonds and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until finely ground; they should not be pasty. Add the butter and process until creamy, then add the egg, egg white and almond extract and mix well.
- Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 375F. Peel the pears, halve them, remove the cores and rub with lemon juice. Put the pear halves cut side down on a board and slice thinly crosswise, keeping the slices together.
- Pour the almond cream filling into the pastry shell. Slide a spatula under one pear half and press the top with your fingers to fan out the slices. Transfer to the tart, placing the fruit on the filling like spokes of a wheel. If you like, remove a few slices from each half before arranging and use to fill any gaps in the center.
- Place the tart on the hot baking sheet and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the filling is set and well browned. Cool on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, heat the brandy or water and the jam in a small saucepan, then brush over the top of the hot tart to glaze. Serve the tart at room temperature.
The tart should be equally successful made with other kinds of fruit, such as nectarines, peaches, apricots or apples.
As a bonus for those who don’t necessarily look forward to dessert in a meal, here is something else we’ll be eating: