Pear Custard Tart with Toasted Almonds

Makes one 10-inch tart

From Kim Laidlaw

A custard tart layered with poached pears and toasted almonds. Influenced by Julia Child’s French custard apple tart.

1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄4 tsp kosher salt
1⁄2 tsp sugar
7 tbsp very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
5 tbsp ice water, plus more if needed

3⁄4 cup sugar
3 ripe but firm pears, preferably Bosc, peeled, quartered, and cored
Peel of 1 orange, removed in strips
1⁄2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg
1⁄4 cup sugar plus 1 tbsp
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or 2 tbsp brandy
Pinch of kosher salt
1⁄4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

In a food processor, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar. Sprinkle the cubed butter over the flour mixture. Pulse for a few seconds, or until the butter is slightly broken up into the flour. Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture, and process just until the mixture starts to come together.

On a floured counter, press dough together into a flat disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 1 day. You can also freeze the dough for up to 1 month.

Cut a circle of parchment paper that will fit in a medium saucepan. Make a small hole in the middle of the parchment. Boil 3 cups of water and ¾ cups sugar to boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add pears and orange peel. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the back of a paring knife. Add vanilla pod and seeds to the saucepan. Submerge the pears by laying the prepared parchment paper on top. Lower heat to a gentle simmer and poach the pears until just tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool in the liquid.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer dough to a 10-inch tart pan or shallow pie plate. Trim away any excess dough. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is dried out and just starting to color a bit, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Let cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).

Cut each pear quarter lengthwise into 4 slices, then lay most of the pear slices in the crust in an overlapping circle close to the rim. Use the remaining slices to fill the middle.

Beat together the egg and 1⁄4 cup sugar until thick and pale. Beat in the flour and then the cream, vanilla (or brandy), and salt. Pour custard evenly over the pears. Bake until the custard starts to puff up, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle toasted almonds and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over the top of the tart. Continue to bake until the custard is set and lightly browned, 15–20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until warm or room temperature before slicing and serving.

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