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full steam ahead

Recipe: pear frangipane tart

Last Friday was the first day of March. And even though the first day of March has everyone running around shouting “Spring! Spring!” that date means a couple of things to me: a) March is typically when Colorado gets her biggest snow storm tracks (HELL YES!) and b) Jeremy and I have to calculate how many years we’ve been married. Sixteen years. How is it that I remember our first date – an afternoon stroll through Old Pasadena – as vividly as I remember yesterday, and yet it feels like Jeremy has been a part of my entire life? Maybe we’re just getting old… I could not have dreamed of a better companion.

14 years ago (kaweah at 11 weeks)

summer hikes in the rockies

hikes in the snow

we love the snow

my best pals

here is to the journey before us

I’m not in denial about spring. I love Colorado spring! Everyone knows (or should know) how awesome spring skiing can be. The arrival of March jolts me out of my winter food mindset too. I set about “spring cleaning” my archives from the last season to make room for new recipes with fresh spring produce. So let’s wave good-bye to February with a pear frangipane tart. Despite the use of a winter fruit, this tart is delightfully bright and cheery any time of year. You can substitute peaches, plums, apples, as you like.

red d’anjou pears

start with the pâte sucrée: butter, vanilla, egg yolk, cream, flour, confectioner’s sugar, salt

pulse the butter and dry ingredients together

If you’ve never made pâte sucrée before, it looks like it will never come together into a ball of pastry dough. Have faith and press it together… it will become a ball of dough, albeit a crumbly ball of dough. I find it easiest to press it together in a bowl as much as you can, set it on a sheet of plastic wrap, and then use the plastic to help press all the crumbs and pieces into one ball.

blend in the yolk and cream

it should look like wet sand and will hold shape when you press it between your fingers

wrap the dough in plastic and chill

While the dough is chilling, prepare the fruit. I don’t know if it is necessary to boil the fruit if you choose to use peaches or berries or plums. I figured it would be best to do so for the pears. It’s just a quick boil with some cinnamon and ginger tossed into the water. I wanted lengthwise cross-sections of my pears, but you can slice them into wedges, half moons, whatever you like.

pears, ground cinnamon, ginger, water

slice the pears

place it all in a saucepan and simmer for a few minutes.

After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator, roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. Line a 9-inch tart pan with a removable base with the pâte sucrée, then freeze for 30 minutes. Whenever I bake with my removable-base tart pans, I place them on a baking sheet. These crusts always release melted butter during the baking process and the butter usually leaks out the bottom causing a terrible mess. So that’s just a heads up. You will bake the pastry first, to prevent a soggy and undercooked crust. While that’s baking, make the frangipane filling.

crust is ready to bake after sitting in the freezer for 30 minutes

frangipane: almond paste, lemon zest, butter, ground almonds, flour, confectioner’s sugar, egg whites

mix it together

The crust should be ready when it is golden in color and puffy. It may shrink during baking, but don’t worry – the tart should be fine. Spread the filling over the crust evenly. Mine went to the edge of the pastry, but the frangipane behaves nicely and doesn’t overflow or run in the oven. It’s all good.

spread the frangipane filling on the baked crust

arrange the fruit on top of the frangipane

ready to bake

As I mentioned before, I always place my tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any grease leakage. The tart was done when the filling set and no longer jiggled. I pulled it out of the oven and saw a little pool of melted butter glistening on the baking sheet. It’s much easier to clean that up than to scrub burnt grease off the bottom of the oven. The original recipe glazes the tart with jelly, but I decided a simple sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar would be nicer.

out of the oven


This is a lovely pastry to serve for dessert, breakfast, or for afternoon tea. If you want to make it ahead, the crust can be baked and stored the day before. Switch the pears out for whatever seasonal fruit you’d prefer. Glaze the tart or dust with powdered sugar. The frangipane is sweet enough that you could also get away without adding some form of sugar on top. Serve the slices plain or with ice cream or whipped cream. It’s a tart for all seasons.

simply delightful pear frangipane tart

Pear Frangipane Tart
[print recipe]
from Harrison House Suites

pâte sucrée
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
8 tbsps unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp whipping cream

Make the pâte sucrée: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and whipping cream to the dry ingredients. Pulse until it resembles wet sand. Place the dough (it may be totally crumbly) onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the plastic, gather the dough into a ball and press it together into a disc. Wrap with the plastic and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface. Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place the tart pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry turns golden brown. Let it cool until ready to use.

pear filling
4 large pears, sliced (peeling is optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 cup water

Prepared the fruit: Heat the water, cinnamon, and ginger together in a medium saucepan until the water boils. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the pears. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until the fruit is soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

frangipane filling
8 tbsps butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup almond paste
2 tsps lemon zest, fresh
1/4 cup ground almonds
2 egg whites, beaten foamy

Make the frangipane filling: With a paddle attachment, beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar, flour, almond paste, lemon zest, and ground almonds in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the egg whites.

1/2 cup apple jelly or confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Assemble the tart: Preheat oven to 350°F. Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread the frangipane filling evenly over the baked crust, smoothing the top. Arrange the fruit slices on the frangipane. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the frangipane is bubbling and the filling is more or less set (it shouldn’t be overly jiggly). If you want to glaze the tart, heat a 1/2 cup of apple jelly until melted, then brush the glaze over the tart. Alternatively, you can opt to dust with confectioner’s sugar when the tart has cooled or just leave the tart as is. Serves 8-12.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

apple tarte tatin bakewell tart chocolate pistachio almond tartlets lemon tart

24 nibbles at “full steam ahead”

  1. Kristin says:

    Gorgeous tart. Happy anniversary to you & Jeremy! Was listening to NPR last week & heard someone who I thought was probably from his department. My ears perked up, but it wasn’t Jeremy, though it was an interesting discussion.

  2. Christine says:

    I’d like to vote for more Kaweah puppy pictures!! Thanks for the dose of “Awwww” on a Monday morning.

  3. Cindi says:

    That is absolutely beautiful.

  4. Cindi says:

    Oh and Kaweah as a puppy! Omysweetgoodness!!!

  5. John says:

    Congratulations on 16 years together, and best wishes for many happy years ahead!

  6. hungry dog says:

    Happy anniversary! And yes…more puppy pictures. She is a lovely dog with the sweetest face.

  7. Tiffani T. says:

    This is an absolutely beautiful dish and although something this gorgeous would normally be really intimidating to me, you’ve made it so approachable. Thanks! I also love the pics of your puppy dog, reminds me of the black lab I used to have except mine was much, much, much fatter :D

  8. Lisa says:

    Congraatulations to you and Jeremy!! Kaweah’s puppy picture is so so cute. She is still a cute dog today. Even though I don’t care too much about sweets, this one looks beautiful, and I don’t mind to have a small piece for tasting.

  9. Jill says:

    Hi Jen,

    I read often and rarely comment, but I just want to say that I am always touched by the way you talk about your relationship with Jeremy. You both seem like such lovely people and you seem so happy together and like you have really figured out how to live well together. I really hope for a relationship like that someday! Happy anniversary, may you have many many more years together! I’ve also got my fingers cross for a nice snowy spring for you down in Colorado and me in Alberta!

  10. Louise says:

    Like Jill, I read often but never comment….. What wonderful words & photos & comments today! Happy anniversary and yes, please post more puppy photos|!

  11. Laning says:

    Congratulation !! How is it that you managed to write the most romantic posting and yet not at all soppy sounding ?
    love your posting =always
    Here’s wishing you more wedding bliss in the years to come

  12. robin says:

    Beautiful pictures! I especially love the portrait of Jeremy and Kaweah. Charming retrospective. Thank you for sharing the sweet life.

  13. Maho says:

    Jenny, reading your posts usually make me either really, really hungry or fill my heart with happiness. Today’s post did both. I’m starting my day with a big smile on my face.
    Wishing you, Jeremy and Kaweah many more years of joy together.

  14. marissa says:

    For a food blog that was an amazing beginning and end. Many blessings to you and Jeremy as you continue through your journey. The tart is one of my all time favorites, also divine w a little raspberry jam on the bottom and apricots on top.
    All the best M

  15. Shari says:

    Happy anniversary to you both! The tart looks awesome! Love the dog pictures.

  16. farmerpam says:

    Happy Anniversary, love the puppy pictures, awwww! Your recipes always rock, never fail.

  17. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    Happy Anniversary! That tart is the prettiest thing I’ve seen in a long time…

  18. Chef Veronica says:

    Happy Anniversary for Kaweah as well, that face is just adorable. Tart looks great, reminds me of being in culinary school all over again! Yummalicious Jen.

  19. jenyu says:

    Kristin – yes! That was someone in LASP which is the planetary branch :) Ha ha, we both listen to ToTN/Sci Fri! xoxo

    Christine – oh, I wish I had a lot more puppy pics. She was so stinking cute and I was just transitioning to digital!

    Cindi – thanks :)

    John – thank you! xo

    hungry dog – awww, you’re very sweet.

    Tiffani – ha ha, we definitely keep her trim because she’s on the small side. Hope you try the recipe!

    Lisa – thanks, Mom :) I’ll make one for you this summer with peaches.

    Jill – that is incredibly kind of you to say. I think communication and respect (in addition to love) are critical for any good relationship, but we both consider ourselves fortunate to have one another. Being so observant, I don’t doubt you’ll find a great relationship in someone some day! xo

    Louise – ha ha, I’ll try to dig some up!

    Laning – oh, I wouldn’t call that romantic! ;) Thank you xo

    robin – thank you xo

    Maho – you’re so sweet, thanks!

    marissa – mmm, raspberry jam sounds great! Thank you!

    Shari – thanks! xo

    farmerpam – thanks, dear.

    Rocky Mountain Woman – :)

    Chef Veronica – thanks!

  20. Adrian says:

    Such beautiful photography and what a gorgeous looking tart! I shall be stalking all your other posts from now on. I’m definitely going to give this and your chinese dumpling recipe a go as soon as I finish my assignment! May I ask, having mostly used the metric system in the UK (where everyone is a scientist and weighs their ingredients :D ), when your recipe says 1 cup does it mean one cup of ‘poured’ flour or one cup of flour scooped out from the jar?

    Hope to hear from you soon and thank you for providing me with a new source of procrastination.

    Adrian K

  21. jenyu says:

    adrian – I would “pour” the flour, but to make sure it isn’t too dense, I scoop it and shake it back into the container, then scoop again and level it off.

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