Pear and almond tart
Makes one 9-inch tart (8 servings)
This elegant dessert takes just minutes to prepare and then bakes on its own, filling your kitchen with an enticing aroma. To serve warm, pop the tart into the oven just as you and your guests sit down for dinner. Muscat or Sauternes makes a lovely pairing, should you wish to serve wine with dessert.
For variety, substitute hazelnut-flavored liqueur for the almond-flavored liqueur and hazelnuts (skins removed) for the almonds.
For the Cookie Crust
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
¾ cup all-purpose flour
For the filling
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond-flavored liqueur, such as Amaretto
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 fresh pears (ripe but not soft), peeled, cored, and halved, each half cut into about six ½-inch thick wedges
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
To make the crust, use an electric mixer to cream the butter in a small bowl. Add the sugar and egg yolk; beat until smooth. Using a fork, stir in the flour until it is well blended and forms fine crumbs. Or, prepare the crust in a food processor, using an on-and-off motion. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Crust will not be slightly firm but not browned. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, whisk together the cream, sugar, flour, liqueur, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl until smooth.
Arrange the pears, pinwheel style (thickest portions to the outside edge), on the prepared crust. Save 2 pear wedges, cut them in half horizontally, and arrange in the center. Pour the cream mixture evenly over the pears. Sprinkle with the almonds.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the sauce is not runny. It will be like custard and not firm. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.