It’s fall and and there really aren’t that many fall fruits except for varieties of pears and apples. Autumn harvests are primarily rooted vegetables and squashes, which lend themselves to a wide range of uses. Contrary, it seems limited to only have pears and apples as the seasonal fruit. But, actually they’re super versatile in both savory and sweet dishes. As a baking blog, though, I’m gonna start off with this amazing Hazelnut Pear Tart, reminiscent of the common frangipane tart! Such as the summertime Blueberry Frangipane Tart or springtime Rhubarb Frangipane Tart.
This week, my friend dropped of a hefty bag of Asian pears, picked fresh from his front yard tree. Of course I ate some of them fresh and crispy, but how am I supposed to eat several pounds of pears over the course of a couple weeks? Well bake them of course!
Surprisingly the Asian pear is great for baking! It’s super crisp and retains much of its crispness while baking. This may be an uncommon opinion, but I’m not a huge fan of soft apples and soft pears, even in a pie. So I’m huge on not pre-cooking or over cooking normal apple/pear pies. Asian pears are much different and quite the game changer for me and maybe it’ll be for you too!
You can easily find Asian pears at an Asian grocery store, but they are also found in normal supermarkets when in season. My friends pears were a bit smaller than normal pears you might find at the store, but honestly just fit as many pear slices on the tart as you can!
What’s the difference between a tart and a pie?
This is actually a common question! Honestly the idea of a tart and pie are the same – there’s a crust in usually a circular pan with some sort of filling inside. However with pies, some may add a top crust layer (think lattice pies like a peach pie or fully covered apple pie. One of the biggest differences is the crusts are made slightly different. For tarts, you generally want a drier, crumbly crust, whereas pie crusts are typically flakier. And pie pans have a sloped side whereas tarts have a straight edge that’s also fluted. And most tart pans have a removable bottom so you can present the tart without the pan itself. Pretty neat, right?
In terms of filling, most tarts have a sort of dairy-based (egg or cream or both!) layer topped with something like fruit slices that are placed in a decorative pattern. Pies are one giant filling and you can’t really arrange the filling pretty so you add designs to the crust instead! But all in all, the term for tarts and pies are quite similar.
Instead of my normal almond frangipane, I took a different twist to uplift the pear flavor and all the fall vibes too. For this tart, a hazelnut frangipane with a good mix of cinnamon and cardamom bring out the warmth of fall and round out the crispy light flavors of the Asian pear.
Ground hazelnut is much harder to find than almond flour/meal. So here I’ll go through the steps of making your own hazelnut meal. To blanch hazelnuts (take off the skins), boil them in water with baking soda in the mix for a couple minutes. Then quickly drain and rinse under cold or ice water. This helps the peeling process. The skins should then be easy to remove. Dry them out on the pan again for a little toast for added flavor and then food process to grind it up. Alternatively you could smash it – in college I would use a hammer in lieu of a food processor and the people below weren’t too happy. Oh well!
And just like the almond frangipane, the hazelnut frangipane is super easy to make! Just mix in all the ingredients and voila! I would save slicing the pears till the end so they don’t oxide too much. But if you’re afraid you’re working too slow, dunking them in water helps prevent oxidation! Happy fall and happy baking!
Hazelnut Pear Tart
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
- 1 medium egg
- 2 cups whole hazelnuts, blanched and peeled
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups sliced and peeled Asian pears (about 5 small or 3 large)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- For the crust, mix the flours, sugar and salt in a bowl. Then using a pastry cutter or your fingers, blend in the butter until a crumbly mixture results. Add in the egg and mix until a dough forms. If too dry add 1 tsp of cold water at a time, if too sticky add 1 Tbsp of flour at a time.
- Form dough into a ball and refrigerate for 30 min.
- Remove dough from fridge and either roll out the dough to a 12 in diameter or pat the dough out to fill the entire tart pan evenly. Make sure the edges go up the pan completely. Refrigerate again until use.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- To make the filling, start by blanching the hazelnuts and removing the skins if you haven't (see note below). With a food processor, grind the nuts till they are the size of large sand.
- Add the butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs to the food processor and blend until the mixture comes together. The consistency should be the same throughout.
- Remove the tart crust from the fridge again. Fill the tart with the hazelnut filling and set aside.
- If you haven't yet, slice the pears. Arrange the pear slices evenly around the tart, fanning the slices for a neat look.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the crust becomes golden brown. Brush the tart with a mixture of 1 Tbsp honey and 1 Tbsp water.
- To blanch hazelnuts, boil about 4 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda, then add hazelnuts and boil for a few minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Rub off the hazelnut skins. Dry out the hazelnuts by toasting them in the pan for 2 minutes on medium
- Almond meal can sub for almond flour, if needed
- I used the smallest egg in a carton of "large" eggs as a medium sized egg, if the dough is too sticky, add 1 Tbsp of flour at a time
- If you can't find Asian pears, you could substitute it with something like Bartlett or Bosc, or any hard pears
Did you make this recipe?
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