Sweet Talk: February Is Great American Pie Month

February 2, 2015

When pondering how to ring in Great American Pie Month, making an apple pie certainly crossed our minds. But then we thought, why not sidestep the expected? So we enlisted Top Chef finalist and cohost of The Chew Carla Hall, who had a show-stopper up her sleeve: a Pear-Ginger Frangipane Tart. Tarts just scream elegance, and they’re no more difficult to make than pie, explains Carla of their no-fuss crust. I was prepared to use anything that was in season. When I walked into the store, there were three huge displays of pears. I stopped looking after that. And we’re glad she did. At once dainty and decadent, classic and cheeky, this ginger-spiced beauty is a little slice of heaven.


Carla in the Amour Pullover and Cutwork Wide-Legs. When I think tart, I think French, she tells us. The writing was on the wallI mean, sweater!

For the crust
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup confectioners sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ sticks cold butter, cut into ½” pieces

For the frangipane filling
1 cup blanched, slivered almonds
½ cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup crystallized ginger, minced
1 large egg
1 large egg white
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and softened to room temperature

For the pear topping
6-8 ripe, but firm, pears (Bosc, Anjou or Bartlett work well)
¼ cup granulated sugar, or to taste
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons Riesling wine
2 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste
Pinch of salt

For the glaze
¼ cup ginger, apricot or apple jelly
2 tablespoons reserved juices from pears


First, assemble the crust.
Whisk together yolk, cream and vanilla in a small bowl. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt with 4 one-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces and cut butter into flour. With machine running, add egg mixture and process until dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6″ disk. Roll dough out between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper or plastic wrap. Transfer dough to a 10″ tart pan or pie plate and trim excess, leaving at least 1″ hanging over the pan. Fold excess dough under, press into the pan and crimp to create a design (or just trim). Wrap the entire pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours (alternately, you can freeze for up to 2 weeks). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove crust from the fridge and line the crust with foil. Fill foil-lined crust with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust for 20 minutes, remove the beans and foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and increase the temperature to 375 degrees.

Now, make the frangipane filling.
Pulse almonds, sugar and salt in food processor until finely ground, about 25 two-second pulses; process until the mixture is as finely ground as possible. Add crystallized ginger; pulse another 25 two-second pulses. Add egg, egg white, almond and vanilla extracts; process until combined, about 10 seconds. Add butter and process until no lumps remain, about 10 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula and process to combine thoroughly, about 10 seconds longer. Pour into the baked pie shell.

Next, prepare the pears.
Peel pears, cut into quarters and gently spoon out the seeds. In large bowl or plastic bag, toss the pears with the sugar, ginger, wine, lemon juice and salt; let macerate for at least 15 minutes. Closely arrange the pear quarters near the edge of the tart shell. Fill the center of the pie by thinly slicing the remaining pear quarters lengthwise; make a rose shape by shingling the pear slices until the center is filled. Reserve the leftover juices.

Bake the assembled tart for 45-50 minutes in the 375 degree oven, until golden brown. As soon as the tart comes out of the oven, generously brush it with a glaze made from combining the jelly and reserved juices. Let cool, then serve with whipped cream or crĬme fraĨche.


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